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Imprisoned Blagojevich again asks U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (left) with his wife, Patti, speaks to reporters in December 2011 at the federal building in Chicago, after Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years on 18 corruption counts. | Associated Press

Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich has again appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, his lawyer confirmed Thursday.

The former governor’s bid to the high court is among the very few options the imprisoned Democrat has left. Blagojevich has tried to take his case to the Supreme Court once before. It refused to hear from him early last year, and his new petition is also considered a long-shot.

Blagojevich is not due out of prison until May 2024.

The new 133-page filing presents the Supreme Court with two questions: Whether prosecutors in a case like Blagojevich’s must prove a public official made an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for a campaign contribution, and whether more consideration should have been given to sentences handed down in similar cases.

“Our petition lays out a compelling case that the Supreme Court needs to settle the confusion among federal courts about the dividing line between campaign fundraising, something all elected officials are required to do (unless they are billionaires) and the federal crimes of extortion and bribery,” Leonard Goodman, Blagojevich’s attorney, said in a statement.

Goodman, a member of the investor group that recently purchased the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader, also complained that Blagojevich’s sentence “was more than twice as long as that given any other official convicted of corruption.”

If his lawyers fail before the Supreme Court, Blagojevich’s only hope for an early release may be his pending commutation petition before President Donald Trump. The two men met when Trump was a reality TV show host on the set of “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Two years have already passed since a three-judge appellate panel overturned five of Blagojevich’s original 18 criminal convictions. That triggered a new sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James Zagel in August 2016. However, the judge refused to lower Blagojevich’s 14-year prison term, despite tearful pleas from Blagojevich’s daughters.

That sentence was affirmed earlier this year by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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