Supreme Court denies request to hear Rod Blagojevich appeal

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Supreme Court denies request to hear Rod Blagojevich appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday morning decided not to hear the appeal of defrocked Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption case.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday morning decided NOT to hear the appeal of defrocked Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption case. The court's refusal to hear Blagojevich's appeal effectively puts an end to his conventional legal options.

"Rod, Amy, Annie and I could not be more disappointed in the decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court" said Blagojevich's Patti in a written statement released late Monday morning. "From the beginning we've had faith in the system and have felt the court would bring Rod back to us. Now, with the judiciary no longer an option, we'll have to put our faith elsewhere and find another way."

Chuck Goudie and the ABC7 I-Team report on the chance that President Trump will now offer former governor Rod Blagojevich a mercy-release from his 14 year prison sentence.

The only possibility for relief now would be presidential intervention: a pardon from President Donald Trump. Blagojevich has a standing request with the White House for clemency. It was filed under President Barack Obama, who's U.S. senate seat Blagojevich was accused of trying to secretly auction to the highest bidder. Prior to leaving office President Obama declined to act on the clemency request.

Through a spokesperson, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago that originally prosecuted Blagojevich said the office would have no comment on Monday's Supreme Court decision.

Justices had discussed Blagojevich's appeal request last Friday at their weekly conference. He was trying to convince them that the law he was convicted of violating is not evenly enforced, or interpreted, across the U.S. The ex-governor believes that what is legal political horse-trading in some states is an illegal quid pro quo in others, and was asking the Supreme Court to straighten out the confusion.

Blagojevich requested his appeal be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, as he had done and been denied once before, claiming he is innocent and that he never made explicit promises in exchange for campaign contributions.

In January, 2009 he was impeached and convicted by the Illinois General Assembly for corruption after he solicited bribes for political appointments, including Barack Obama's Senate seat. Six years into a scandalous period of Blagojevich reign, the Illinois senate voted unanimously to remove the governor from office. He had made an 11th hour plea for his job but when senators respond with a no vote, Blagojevich walked out of the chamber in silence. His former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, was sworn in as the state's 41st governor a short time later.

For the Land of Lincoln though, the legal ringer had barely begun cranking. Images would fester for years, and to this day, of perp walks outside federal court, explosive legal hearings, another governor behind bars and Illinois' entrenchment as a state of corruption.

Blagojevich has now served more than 2220 days at the Federal Correctional Center-Englewood in Littleton, Colorado, nearly half of the sentence that he is to serve in prison. He will hit the exact middle-mark of his expected time behind bars later this week. His wife Patti has said that the appeal which led to Monday's decision would be her husband's last.

The odds were stacked against Blagojevich even getting his appeal heard by the Supreme Court. The justices on Monday decided to hear none of the cases on their current weekly list, and denied dozens. Annually 8000 appeals are requested of the court and on average only 80 are approved. That is a 1 percent success ratio; a ratio that Illinois' former governor on Monday did not make.

"Throughout this grueling saga we've maintained hope that Rod will come back home where he belongs" said Patti Blagojevich. "Although we are disheartened by this decision, we are thankful for the outpouring of support we've received along the way. We will continue to push forward and work towards the day when our family can be whole again."

Following the Supreme Court decision, Mrs. Blagojevich early Monday declined interview requests. A spokesperson for a public relations firm retained by the Blagojevich family asked that news organizations "respect her privacy." Then on Monday night, she showed up live on a Fox News national show to lobby President Trump, a regular Fox viewer, for her husband's freedom.

The ex-governor's attorney Leonard Goodman said early Monday that he would publicly respond only in victory and did not reply to immediate requests for comment from the ABC7 I-Team. There is also no immediate word from the White House on whether President Trump might offer relief to Blagojevich, whom he knows from the Celebrity Apprentice TV show in 2010. Prior to being elected president, Trump had been quoted as saying he felt bad for Blagojevich and his family.

WATCH: ABC7's Rob Elgas reports on Patti Blagojevich's appearance on Fox News to plead for presidential pardon

Patti Blagojevich appeared on Fox News Monday night to make a plea to President Trump to pardon her husband, ex-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.