Ill. gov's atty to resign from criminal case

January 23, 2009 8:27:01 PM PST
Rod Blagojevich's lead attorney said Friday he plans to resign from the governor's criminal case.The governor's lead attorney Ed Genson declines to say why he is leaving the case. Speculation ranges from whether it is an issue over compensation or a disagreement over strategy.

But it is a critical time in the case for this to happen and most experts suggest it's more bad news for the governor.

Genson has represented plenty of high profile clients over his four plus decades in law. From R&B star R. Kelly to media baron Conrad Black. He is highly regarded as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the country, an opinion his most recent client agreed with on Friday morning.

"I'm very fortunate in many ways. I think we have a great legal team led by the legendary defense lawyer Ed Genson who's considered widely to be the best defense lawyer in America. I call him Clarence Darrow," said Gov. Blagojevich.

The governor, however, apparently failed to follow his attorney's advice.

Genson represented Blagojevich in a hearing on Friday afternoon over the release of evidence for the impeachment trial. But it was the last time.

"I believe in this case it would be better off and I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case. I wish the governor good luck and Godspeed and I have nothing further to say," said Genson.

That still leaves the governor with representation by two attorneys but neither with the reputation of Genson.

"I'm on the case, absolutely," said Sheldon Sarosky, Blagojevich attorney.

Genson's decision comes on the same day the governor took his case to the people by holding a news conference and appearing on a couple of radio stations. Observers say it's far from the conventional strategy of saying little for a suspect facing serious criminal charges.

"We have an innocent client who knows how to communicate to the people. When you get those two, how could I tell a governor to sit down and be quiet," said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich attorney.

"We have an innocent client that knows how to communicate to the people. When you get those two how can I in good conscience tell a governor like this to sit down and be quiet," said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich attorney.

That's an opinion Ed Genson apparently may disagree with. But he's not saying it publicly.

"It is privilege what I say to him and what he says to me," said Genson.

As for Friday's hearing, the judge ordered four F.B.I. wire tapes to be released. They will presumely be played next week in the trial. The judge will allow an F.B.I. agent to testify in the proceeding. Neither the governor nor his two remaining attorneys are expected to take part in that trial.