Blago says Supreme Court has ‘unquestioned’ power to hear case

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is shown in March 2012 as he departs his Chicago home to begin his 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges. | Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers insist the U.S. Supreme Court has “unquestioned” power to review his case even as he waits to be resentenced.

The imprisoned Democrat’s legal team made the argument Tuesday as it continues to urge the high court to hear his appeal. The U.S. Solicitor General’s office argued last month that, because the work of lower courts is not complete, Blagojevich’s bid for a hearing should be denied.

But appellate lawyer Leonard Goodman pointed out in a new court filing obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times that Blagojevich has been locked up for nearly four years, “serving a lengthy sentence for convictions that have a fair chance of being reversed if the court grants review.”

Goodman also asked the court to consider at least holding on to Blagojevich’s petition until after a resentencing hearing — to speed along any further appeals.

Blagojevich, 59, is serving a 14-year sentence. He was convicted of 18 counts over two trials, including that he attempted to trade his power to appoint someone to a U.S. Senate seat in exchange for personal benefits. A three-judge appellate panel tossed five of his 18 criminal convictions last year and ordered him to be resentenced. However, that panel also pointed out that “it is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes.”

U.S. District Judge James Zagel has not scheduled a hearing since the three-judge panel called for the resentencing in July.

Blagojevich’s lawyers contend there is confusion among lower courts when it comes to public corruption prosecutions and the solicitation of campaign contributions. They have urged the Supreme Court to intervene, calling the Blagojevich case an “ideal vehicle.”

“Unlike many political corruption extortion cases that involve both campaign contributions and other non-contribution payments, this is a pure campaign contributions case; Blagojevich was never accused of taking a penny out of his campaign fund for personal use or accepting cash or other gifts,” Goodman wrote.

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