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Monday, March 14, 2011

Blagojevich Asks Judge to Cancel Retrial, Sentence Him for Lying

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is asking a federal judge to cancel his upcoming retrial and sentence him for lying to an FBI agent, the one count he was convicted on in his previous trial.

Blagojevich Asks Judge to Cancel Retrial, Sentence Him for Lying

In an unexpected move, the highly entertaining and often unpredictable former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked a federal judge to cancel his retrial and sentence him on the sole conviction in his first trial: lying to an FBI agent.

Blagojevich insisted that he is still innocent but said he was making the request in the interest of justice and saving taxpayers money, according to a motion filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago. He was convicted in the first trial on one of 24 counts, and the government is slated to retry him April 20.

He has been given court-appointed attorneys paid by the government. However, the attorneys have yet to be paid.

"The federal budget is being drastically cut," Blagojevich attorney Lauren Kaeseberg wrote in the five-page motion. "Specifically, the funds for lawyers to defend indigent defendants have been suspended.

"A second prosecution of this case is an irresponsible use of taxpayer funds in light of the current economic crisis ... the government could, in turn, focus its financial resources on new investigations that have come to their attention," the motion said.

The motion noted that at the first trial, the ex-governor's attorneys were paid by the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund, not by taxpayers. But even then, the fund ran dry and the attorneys were paid only one-fifth of their fees for the last month of trial in July.
The motion stated that to date, the defense has been working on the Blagojevich case for almost nine months without pay.

"This has caused a significant hardship and has deprived Blagojevich of his right to effective assistance of counsel as required by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution," the motion stated. "The financial hardship this has caused defense counsel has created a vast inequity in this case between the government and the defense. ... The defense is stymied in its ability to prepare for trial."

Consequently, the attorney writes that the defense won't be ready for trial April 20.

Kim Nerheim, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago, said the office had no comment. 

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