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CHICAGO (CBS) – Rod Blagojevich’s defense attorneys have officially taken the first step toward an appeal of the former governor’s conviction on 18 corruption counts.
In a filing Tuesday evening, defense attorneys notified the U.S. Court of Appeals that the intend to appeal Blagojevich’s conviction and 14-year prison sentence.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports
The filing is only the first step in a lengthy process and does not go into detail about the basis for the appeal. After filing such a notice, defense attorneys will file a lengthy formal appeal detailing any errors they believe led to a conviction. They typically also have trial transcripts, evidence and other documents transferred to the appeals court before a full hearing can be held.
Blagojevich was convicted this summer on 17 conviction counts after a second trial, including allegations he tried to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in 2008. Blagojevich’s first trial resulted in only one conviction, lying to the FBI, as jurors were deadlocked on all other counts against him.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced Blagojevich to 14 years in prison.
The former governor’s lawyers have been laying the groundwork for an appeal since the early stages of the first trial, filing multiple requests for a mistrial or new trial, arguing Zagel’s rulings were biased and deprived Blagojevich of a fair trial.
For example, the defense has argued the judge prevented Blagojevich from playing tapes of FBI wiretap recordings that would have proved his innocence and prevented him from being able to adequately testify in his own defense at his retrial.
The former governor is scheduled to report to prison on March 15. Although he could seek to stay free on an appeal bond while he takes his case to a higher court, legal analysts have said it’s unlikely such a request would be granted.