Blagojevich 2011: New Year, New Trial?August 25, 2010 - 4:59 PM | by: Ruth Ravve
UPDATE: Government prosecutors have dropped all charges against Blago’s brother Robert Blagojevich. He was facing 4 counts in connection with former governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial. So Robert’s legal drama is over. ”I told him ‘you’re done and you’re free’. His wife is hysterically crying…he was screaming. What he’s been through and what he thought he was going to go through again…and then out of nowhere they dismiss the charges” says Robert’s smiling defense attorney Michael Ettinger.
As for Rod…its like deja vu all over again. Blagojevich’s lawyers were back before Judge James Zagel Thursday morning trying to hammer out a date for his retrial. ”The government should now play a little bit fairer with us, and tell us what they are going to do on the second trial. Are they going to call (Stuart) Levine? Are they going to call (Tony) Rezko? Are they going to call Valerie Jarrett? And call Rahm Emanuel? All those things they didn’t do the first time…they ought to tell us” says Blago’s defense attorney Sam Adam. Apparently attorneys are looking at starting after the new year, in order to have enough time to find a jury, etc. ”The date when the retrial gets scheduled will be determined by who represents Blagojevich. If its the same attorneys he’s been using all along, it could be January. If its brand new attorneys who need to learn the case, it could be 8 months to a year before it begins” says former prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer, of Kroll Associates. Since Blago is broke, according to his attorneys, the cost of defending him is expected to fall on taxpayers. In that case, the judge will likely limit the number of defense attorneys to one or two.
Prosecutors want another shot at convicting Blago on 23 of 24 counts they filed against him. In his first trial, Blago was only found guilty of one charge; lying to federal agents. The finely coifed former governor likely won’t be sentenced on that charge until after the retrial.
The biggest challenge for a retrial could be finding jurors who either haven’t heard of the highly publicized Blagojevich, or haven’t formed an opinion on the case. ”Certainly potential jurors have now heard some of the evidence through the media. The only question is, can they be fair. Some will say yes, some will say no, but in the end I do believe they will be able to get a fair jury. There are other examples of high profile cases that have had retrials where juries have been selected the second time around” says Cramer.
Meantime…that auction the other day of Blago’s things from an unpaid storage locker, may have netted one purchaser more than what was expected. Apparently Blago’s confidential attorney-client paperwork was in one of the bins purchased by Northwestern University. NU says it does not intend to make the paperwork public.