Story Summary

Blagojevich found guilty of corruption, lawyers seek appeal

Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence for official corruption during his tenure as the governor of Illinois

His lawyers filed an appeal just one hour before a midnight deadline set by the appellate court.

The 91-page appeal claims Judge James Zagel made rulings on evidence that favored the prosecution during the trial.


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During his corruption trial, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pleaded the court, to “Play all the tapes.”

He was referring to the stockpile of secretly recorded phone conversations that federal prosecutors used to convict him of misusing his office.

Blagojevich said the jury would acquit him if they heard all the recordings in their complete context.

That didn’t happen, and Blagojevich is now entering his second year in prison in Colorado, while his attorneys seek a new trial.

That fight landed a victory in the Appellate Court.

The judges are allowing transcripts of all the recordings, including the ones that were not played in court.

The transcripts can be used as evidence to show that Judge Zagel was wrong to exclude tapes during the trial.

If the appelate court rules that Zagel made a mistake, those transcripts will be un-sealed and part of the public record.

FULL AUDIO: Oral Arguments – USA v. Rod Blagojevich 

Lawyers for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich returned to a federal courtroom Friday to appeal his corruption convictions.

Attorney Leonard Goodman asked the three-judge panel to overturn his convictions and grant him a new trial.

Rod Blagojevich is serving a 14-year sentence for trying to sell President Obama’s old senate seat and other offenses.

The defense claims restricted wiretapped conversations will show Blagojevich did not intend to profit personally from his official actions.

The judges peppered both defense lawyers and prosecutors with question during the appeal.

Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, attended the hearing.  She said her family has confidence in the court and is putting its trust and faith in God.

The court is not expected to release its decisions for weeks.

What happens today in a federal courtroom will determine whether Rod Blagojevich comes home from prison next year, or 13 years from now.

The ex-governor’s attorneys will ask an appeals court to overturn Blagojevich’s corruption convictions, and grant him a whole new trial.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers will have 30 minutes each to make their cases.

The defense claims that restricted wiretapped conversations will show, Blagojevich did not intend to profit personally from his official actions.

Michael Ettinger represented the governor’s brother Robert in the original trial.

Legal experts say the Blagojevich team would be smarter to accept the convictions, and ask only for a reduction in their client’s prison sentence.

Two trials, a 14 year sentence and already almost two years behind bars but on Friday, attorneys for ex-governor Rod Blagojevich will stand before a three judge panel to see if they can convince the justices to either reverse his conviction, give the inmate a retrial or at least reduce his sentence.

The crux of the argument comes down to audio tapes. Endless hours of audio taped conversations capture the then governor, a jury found, trying to sell the senate seat for something in return for himself. His defense attorneys say if all the relevant tapes had been played, Blagojevich would not have been convicted. They also say the judge didn’t allow the defendant back in 2011 to testify to things on the stand that he had been promised he could. They also claim some jury instructions were bad.

Each party will get 30 minutes before the 7th Circuit Court of appeals and they will be peppered with questions throughout the hearing.

Justices have been briefed and have read the filings. Tomorrow is their chance to hear how lawyers defend their positions.

Rod Blagojevich will not be present.  He remains at a Colorado federal prison, but his wife Patti will be there.

Blagojevich’s brother Rob, once a co-defendant in the same case, says while he has little faith in the justice system, he hopes his brother gets a fair hearing and at the very least a reduced sentence.

Oral arguments begin at 9:30am at the Dirksen Federal Building.

Five years after Rod Blagojevich was arrested for official corruption, his lawyers are preparing to present a case to get him out of prison.

It was December 9, 2008, when the governor awoke to an early morning phone call, saying he was under arrest.

He was ultimately sentenced to 14-years in prison, for trying to exploit a Senate appointment for his personal benefit.

A federal appeals court begins hearing his appeal Friday.

Oral arguments could begin next week.

Blagojevich wants his convictions thrown out.

Some experts say he would do better, asking for a reduced sentence.

Lawyers for former governor Rod Blagojevich have made their last filings in hopes to get him a new trial.

Blagojevich is serving 14 years in prison for shakedowns, including trying to sell a Senate seat.

The new filing claims it was political horse-trading and that Judge James Zagel was biased.

Legal experts say Blagojevich might win a reduced prison term.

It’s the second-longest sentence ever given for corruption in Illinois.

A three-judge panel will hear the appeal on December 13.

WGN Legal Analyst Terry Sullivan joins WGN Midday News to talk about Federal prosecutors asking a U.S. Court of Appeals to leave Rod Blagojevich in prison.

Federal prosecutors are asking a U.S. Court of Appeals to leave Rod Blagojevich in prison.

The ex-governor is appealing his multiple convictions for official corruption and his 14-year prison sentence.

Tuesday,  the U.S. Attorney’s office filed a 169-page response to the Blagojevich appeal; it asked the appeals court to reject Blagojevich’s request for a new trial.

Oral arguments on the appeal will now be scheduled; no timetable has been set yet, but it’s likely any appeals court ruling will take months.

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is appealing in conviction on political corruption charges.

His wife Patti said on her Facebook page she hopes people will take the time to read the 91-page appeal, calling it a “relief to finally get the truth out.”

Among the claims Blagojevich claims makes in his appeal is that federal Judge James Zagel made rulings favoring prosecutors.

He also claims jurors were wrongly instructed about bribery and fraud laws and how they pertained to “political deal-making.”


Blagojevich has already served a little more than a year of his sentence on political corruption charges.


Lawyers for convicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich filed a long-awaited appeal of his conviction late Monday night, an hour before a midnight deadline set by the appellate court.

The 91-page appeal claims Judge James Zagel made rulings on evidence that favored the prosecution during the trial.


BlagojevichIt also says Zagel’s instructions to the jury improperly explained how bribery and fraud laws relate to political dealings.

Blagojevich was sentenced to 14-years.

Federal prosecutors have until August 14 to file a response.