Supreme Court ruling helps Blagojevich's appeal, his lawyers say

Written By Kim Janssen Posted: 07/17/2014, 12:55am

A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court supports Rod Blagojevich’s claim that he committed no crime and should be freed from federal prison, the disgraced former governor’s lawyers argue in new court filing.

Attorney Leonard Goodman — who is representing Blagojevich in his case before the 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals — believes the wording of the Supreme Court’s decision in April to strike down political campaign donation limits bolsters Blagojevich’s appeal.

On Wednesday, he filed a two-page addition to the weighty 100-page appeal that Blagojevich’s legal team originally filed in September in an attempt to get Blaojevich out from under his 14-year prison sentence and 18 public corruption convictions, including one for attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat in return for campaign contributions.

The filing urges appeals court judges to read the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of McCutcheon vs. the Federal Election Commission, which struck down limits on individual campaign contributions and states that the government’s interest “in preventing the appearance of corruption is equally confined to the appearance of quid pro quo corruption, the Government may not seek to limit the appearance of mere influence or access.”

Goodman argues that language supports Blagojevich’s claim that U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who oversaw both of Blagojevich’s trials, didn’t hold prosecutors to a high enough standard.

Blagojevich denies there ever was any quid pro quo for the Senate seat and argues that ”where a criminal prosecution is based upon attempts to solicit campaign contributions, the government must prove a quid pro quo or explicit promise,” rather than the lower standard Zagel required prosecutors to prove, Goodman wrote.

Prosecutors have yet to respond to Goodman’s filing.

The 7th Circuit heard oral arguments on the appeal in December. Judges at that hearing reserved their toughest questions for prosecutors, asking them to clarify what distinguished Blagojevich’s actions from normal political horse-trading.

The court is expected to rule this year.

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