Imprisoned Ex-Gov. Blagojevich's Lawyers File Appeal Before Midnight Deadline

Lawyers for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a long-awaited appeal of his conviction and 14-year sentence late Monday, arguing that U.S. District Judge James Zagel's "one-sided evidentiary rulings" favored prosecutors and that the stiff sentence he imposed was based on vague and speculative evidence.
July 16, 2013
 

Lawyers for disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich filed a long-awaited appeal of his conviction and 14-year sentence late Monday, arguing that U.S. District Judge James Zagel's "one-sided evidentiary rulings" favored prosecutors and that the stiff sentence he imposed was based on vague and speculative evidence.

The 91-page appeal, filed about an hour before a midnight deadline set by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, maintained that Zagel kept Blagojevich's attorneys from rebutting cooperating government witnesses and pointing out potential biases in their testimony.

Jurors were also wrongly instructed about bribery and fraud laws and how they pertained to "political deal-making," the appeal argued.

The lower court "misled the jury by failing to explain the legal distinction between campaign contributions and bribes," the lawyers wrote.

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