Supreme Court justice considers Blago delay

Ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrives at his home after pleading not guilty in federal court in Chicago, Tuesday, April 14, 2009. (Paul Beaty)

July 21, 2010 8:40:30 AM PDT
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wants to hear arguments from both sides in the corruption trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich has been asking for a trial delay and on Friday Justice Stevens, who oversees request from the Chicago area, said he wants to hear both sides before deciding on the request.

Blagojevich's trial is scheduled to begin in June. But Blagojevich's defense asked for a delay because the Supreme Court is considering another case regarding 'honest services,' a charge Blagojevich also faces.

Prosecutors have been using the notion that a politician can be held criminally responsible for depriving citizens of their "honest services" and the Supreme Court is deciding whether that passes constitutional muster.

Blagojevich's lawyers say there's no point in starting the trial if the High Court is going to rule on whether one of the key charges is legal. Prosecutors argue it's not a problem because they've re-indicted the former governor on charges that would still regardless of the Supreme Court decision.

Prosecutors now have one week to respond to the ousted governor's request for a delay.

Other courts have already denied Blagojevich's request for a delay. But now it appears Justice Stevens will hear it, and make prosecutors defend the need to begin the trial two-and-a-half weeks from now.

The U.S. Attorney's Office did not comment on the development, but one of Blagojevich's lawyers told ABC7 it means the defense is "still in the game."

Justice Stevens is from Chicago. Arguing on behalf of prosecutors will be the United States solicitor general, who would've been Elena Kagan. However, since she's been nominated to replace Stevens on the bench, she's turned over her duties to a top deputy: Neal Katyal, who was born and raised in Chicago and studied at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.


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