Blago Trial Delay Denied

Defense asked for five month delay

By Phil Rogers
|  Wednesday, Mar 17, 2010  |  Updated 12:00 PM CDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Blago Makes His "Celebrity" Debut

Getty Images

Hold on now. Rod Blagojevich is a riot.

advertisement
Photos and Videos
More Photos and Videos

It’ll be the Summer of Blago afterall.

U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel refused his defense team’s request to delay the corruption trial for the former governor and current b-list television star.

Blagojevich's attorneys had asked Zagel to postpone the trial, which is scheduled to begin June 3, by five months  – ostensibly so they could lobby to have all the federal wire tap tapes played.

But prosecutors urged Zagel to turn down ousted the request, saying public interest in the case warrants a speedy resolution.

Prosecutors told Zagel in a brief filed last week that Blagojevich "has repeatedly and publicly challenged the legitimacy of the charges against him," -- he did again Sunday night on the Apprentice.

"As a result, the public has a strong interest in the expeditious resolution of the charges — an interest that would not be served by an unnecessary delay of five months in the start of his trial," prosecutors said.

They also reminded Zagel that by June 3, Blagojevich will have had more than a year to prepare with a number of lawyers working on his behalf.

Blagojevich is charged with racketeering conspiracy and other offenses that include allegations he schemed to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and illegally pressured people doing business with the state for campaign contributions. He has pleaded not guilty.

His attorneys have asked that the start of the trial be delayed until Nov. 3, saying they must review an overwhelming number of documents and there is no way they can have the job done by June.

Defense attorneys also noted the current U.S. Supreme Court review of the federal honest services fraud law, which makes it a crime for officials to withhold from taxpayers their intangible right to officials' honest services. Critics say the law is so vague, it is hard to know exactly what is illegal and what isn't.

The honest services fraud law was a major part of Blagojevich's original indictment, which has since been modified to include other charges.

Prosecutors argued that if the Supreme Court does hold the honest services law unconstitutional, some of the charges against Blagojevich will be wiped out and he could actually find himself in a better legal position. They also said Blagojevich's attorneys have plenty of time to sort through documents between now and June 3.

"Neither argument is persuasive or justifies moving the trial date, particularly in light of the strong public interest in resolving this case as expeditiously as possible," they said.
 

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Get Our Weather App
Stay ahead of the storm with the NBC... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out