There's good news and bad news for Rod Blagojevich in federal court Wednesday.
The good news is that prosecutors announced their intention to drop the racketeering counts against the former governor, as well as a single wire fraud count. The bad news is the move could make the case less confusing, possibly increasing the chances of conviction when he is retried in April.
Specifically, prosecutors dropped counts 1, 2 and 4, and a single forfeiture count. Prosecutors said they did it because the counts were “duplicative” of other charges, and this will help streamline the case.
In doing so, they essentially answered the complaints of some jurors from Blagojevich's first trial, who complained they found the jury instructions associated with racketeering especially confusing.
All of the alleged wrongdoing in the thrown-out counts is covered in other charges. But the Blagoevich legal team seized the opportunity to declare at least a partial victory.
“You have counts one, two and four dismissed,” said defense attorney Aaron Goldstein. “You don’t dismiss counts just for the heck of it.”
Lead counsel Sheldon Sorosky took the victory declaration one step further.
“I’m thankful,” Sorosky said. “I think it’s good, and I think it shows that the government thinks Blagojevich is innocent of those charges.”
The Blagojevich legal team still held out the possibility that their client might take the stand in his second trial, which is scheduled to begin in late April. He did not testify in the first trial, after repeatedly declaring his intention to do so.
Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel was slated as a potential witness in the first trial but was never called. The former governor’s attorneys said the possibility exists he could be called the second time around.
“But I want you to know our legal team was evenly divided voting for, and against, the new mayor,” Sorosky said. And he quickly added, “There has never been any allegation that mayor Emanuel, or mayor-elect Emanuel, has ever done anything wrong!”