One of the federal government’s top lawyers on Friday urged the Supreme Court not to hear Rod Blagojevich’s case, ripping the disgraced ex-governor’s latest Hail-Mary appeal effort as “unwarranted” and “without merit”
Solicitor General Noel John Francisco filed a 34-page brief shooting down last November’s appeal, in which Blagojevich’s attorneys argued the nation’s top court should settle questions over whether prosecutors must prove a public official made an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for campaign contributions.
Francisco asserted that wasn’t an issue because it “does not conflict with any decision of this Court or of any other court of appeals.”
“Thus, petitioner has identified no appellate holding of the sort he requests here — namely, one that invalidates an extortion instruction for failing to require proof of an ‘explicit’ quid pro quo,” Francisco wrote, adding that Blagojevich’s case “would be a poor case to address the argument in any event.”
Blagojevich has served more than five years of his 14-year sentence for soliciting bribes for political appointments, namely auctioning off then-President elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. The Supreme Court has already refused to hear his case once before.
In 2015, 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, who refused to lower his prison term despite tearful pleas from Blagojevich’s daughters. That sentence was affirmed earlier last year by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The long-shot petition is among the few options left for the imprisoned Democrat, who is scheduled for release in May 2024. In December, 19 high-profile Illinois Democrats went to bat for Blagojevich in an amicus brief asking the court to take the case.
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, whom Blagojevich met on the set of the realty TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Blagojevich’s lawyer, Leonard Goodman, is a member of the investor group that recently purchased the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader.