Blagojevich Asks For New Trial, Cites Judicial Bias

Chicago Tribune on July 26, 2011 released the following:

“Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, convicted last month of wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion and conspiracy in his second federal public corruption trial, filed a motion late Monday for another retrial, citing numerous instances of alleged judicial bias and error that helped the prosecution “strip away the effective aspects of the defense case.”

“Virtually every error in this trial stemmed from the fact that this Court deprived Blagojevich of the presumption of innocence and exhibited bias against the defense,” the motion asserted. “The Court formed a closed mind to the evidence and made findings of fact.”

The motion said that “the government did not only benefit from the first trial, it used every opportunity to strip away the effective aspects of the defense case. … The Court rubber-stamped the government’s requests.”

The litany of criticisms in the 158-page document touched on everything from jury selection to Blagojevich’s attorneys’ long-held argument that more of the secretly-recorded phone calls that were at the heart of the government case should be played.

The motion also noted that U.S. District Judge James Zagel ruled against Blagojevich at nearly every turn.

His attorneys also zeroed in on Blagojevich’s decision to testify at the second trial — arguing that while Zagel had assured Blagojevich’s defense team that taking the stand would allow Blagojevich the chance to explain his behavior, his rulings during the testimony prevented that.

Blagojevich did not testify during his first trial last year in which a jury convicted him of one of 24 counts against him — that he lied to the FBI. The jury deadlocked on the rest of the charges, leading to the second trial and his sweeping conviction last month on an additional 17 counts.

As a part of the defense motion for a new trial filed Monday, his attorneys included an affidavit signed July 25 by Blagojevich in which he says that he decided to testify the second time around after conferring with his attorneys about statements Zagel made during a May 20 sidebar. According to the affidavit, Zagel said that Blagojevich would be allowed to testify to the fact that he didn’t think anything he was doing was illegal and that none of the people he spoke with told him differently.

In the motion filed Monday, though, Blagojevich’s attorneys said Zagel’s rulings during Blagojevich’s several days of testimony did not allow him to get that point across.

“The Court explicitly told defense counsel that the only path to acquittal was through Blagojevich’s testimony,” the filing reads. “Yet when Blagojevich finally took the stand, he was bamboozled by the Court’s rulings and assertions throughout the trial.”

The ruling noted that the government was allowed to address details of the calls “ad nauseum” with witnesses but that Blagojevich was not allowed to offer up explanations for certain aspects of the calls.

The government is expected to respond to the motion next month.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read The Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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