Former governor Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday won a round in the appellate court.
The three judges hearing Blagojevich’s appeal will consider dozens of undercover recordings, which were never admitted as evidence at either of the former governor’s trials. But it was a mixed decision for the former governor’s team, as the court ordered that the transcripts of the tapes would remain secret, while the appeal is considered, and may in fact never be revealed.
Judge James Zagel refused to allow those tapes to be played in court, overruling the arguments of the Blagojevich defense team that the recordings painted Blagojevich in a more favorable light than those used by the prosecution.
In their appeal, the former governor’s lawyers argued that the tapes in question bolstered their arguments, that he always wanted his appointment filling the Barack Obama senate seat to be “good for the people”. Plus, they contended that the tapes proved that he actively considered giving the Senate seat to Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Blagojevich had argued that his intention all along was to strike a deal to put Madigan in the seat, in exchange for cooperation from her father, the House Speaker, on legislation the governor favored. Prosecutors insisted that the Madigan gambit was a red herring, but the Blagojevich lawyers argued that the unplayed tapes proved otherwise.
The other aspect of today’s order will disappoint court-watchers who were hoping to read a treasure trove of new Blagojevich disclosures.
The court ruled that even though they are considering the unplayed tapes as part of the appeal, they will remain under seal. The transcripts will only be made public if, in a final ruling, the judges determine that Zagel erred in not permitting them to be used during the governor’s two trials.
Saturday marks the second anniversary of Blagojevich’s surrender at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. He is serving a 14-year sentence.