Rod Blagojevich will again try to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case after a federal appeals court in Chicago refused Monday to listen to further arguments, his lawyer said.
The imprisoned Democrat’s latest defeat was not unexpected. But it means he is quickly running out of legal options nearly a year after his 14-year prison sentence was reinstated.
If his lawyers fail at 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.”
It took a three-judge panel from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just three days this spring to affirm Blagojevich’s sentence. His attorneys then sought an opportunity to argue before all active 7th Circuit judges, but they were denied in an order filed Monday.
Blagojevich lawyer Leonard Goodman acknowledged in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times that such requests are rarely granted. However, he said Blagojevich’s case is “extraordinary.” He said the appellate court has twice declined to even discuss jury instructions Goodman said “were so critical to this case.”
“We will be asking the Supreme Court to take a look at this case,” Goodman said. “The issues here are important not just for Mr. Blagojevich and his family, who never used his office to enrich themselves and yet he is serving one of the longest sentences ever handed out to a governor, but also to every elected official who is not independently wealthy and has to raise campaign funds.”
It has now been nearly two years since a three-judge appellate panel — the same who heard his argument this spring — overturned five of Blagojevich’s original 18 criminal convictions. That triggered a resentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James Zagel last August. The judge dashed Blagojevich’s hopes by handing him the same sentence he had been handed in 2011.
Blagojevich, 60, has already tried once to take his case to the Supreme Court. It refused to hear from him early last year. He is not due to get out of prison until May 2024.