Rod Blagojevich appeals corruption conviction

Lawyers for the former Illinois governor argued that the judge served as a "rubber stamp" for prosecutors

By Jillian Rayfield
Published July 16, 2013 1:28PM (EDT)

Disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is appealing his conviction for political corruption, arguing that the judge in the case was "one-sided" in his rulings, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Blagojevich, who was found guilty of trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. But his attorneys argue that U.S. District Judge James Zagel served as a "rubber stamp" for prosecutors.

From the Tribune:

The appeal also alleged that Zagel promised that Blagojevich would be able to play certain undercover recordings he wanted jurors to hear only if the former governor took the witness stand. Yet even though Blagojevich testified, Zagel denied all but a handful of the 33 recordings the defense wanted to air at trial, the appeal said. By comparison, prosecutors were allowed to play 70 recordings, according to the filing.

"While critical evidence for the defense was excluded, the court allowed the government to introduce almost any evidence no matter how irrelevant to paint the defendant in a negative light," Blagojevich's lawyers wrote.

A three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals will now hear the case, though, as the Tribune reports, it's rare for the appellate court to reverse a decision. Instead, Blagojevich could succeed in reducing his sentence.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2008 Elections Barack Obama Illinois Political Corruption Rod Blagojevich