For Blago bros, no brotherly love in court case

April 16, 2010 5:21:54 AM PDT
Trying to avoid the backwash from his brother's alleged misconduct as governor, Robert Blagojevich has asked for a separate trial.

"Robert Blagojevich's alleged involvement translates into approximately 5% of the 84-month conspiracy" states the motion filed by attorney Michael Ettinger.

"The overwhelming evidence presented at trial will be against Robert Blagojevich's brother, Rod. The 'spill over' effect at a joint trial, where the jury will hear a great deal of evidence that would not be admissible against Robert Blagojevich if he were tried alone. This poses a danger that the jury may be prevented from making a reliable judgment about Robert Blagojevich's guilt or innocence."

Robert "Rob" Blagojevich was the chairman of the Friends of Blagojevich campaign committee during the tail end of the alleged conspiracy, according to the filing. The governor's brother should not have to "sit through" the beginning stages of the trial when it doesn't pertain to him, states the motion.

Also, the "publicity and media exposure" concerning former Gov. Rod Blagojevich would distract the jury's focus from the defense of his brother Rob, states the filing.

"United States Attorney Peter Fitzgerald made extremely inflammatory and prejudicial statements concerning Rod Blagojevich at the press conference announcing the filing of criminal charges in this case, which remain in the mind of the public and prospective jurors" contends Robert Blagojevich's attorney.

That apparently refers to Mr. Fitzgerald's comment on the day of the arrest that Blagojevich's "conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave."

The motion filed Thursday in federal court also states that the Blagojevich trial "will take approximately 5 months" and that Rob Blagojevich's 500-mile commute from his home in Nashville, Tennessee would be an unfair hardship. The filing states that a trial for Robert Blagojevich alone would take no more than one month.

A separate motion filed by Robert Blagojevich asks that Judge James Zagel reconsider delaying the start of the corruption trial, still scheduled for June 3. Judge Zagel previously denied an identical motion that asked for postponement until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether the "honest services" charge that Blagojevich originally faced, is constitutional.