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Miller: Blagojevich Has A Shot At Appealing Sentence

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Rod Blagojevich

Deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich gives his final speech before going to prison. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller says Rod Blagojevich likely stands a chance at appealing his lengthy 14-year sentence.

But Miller says he was surprised that Blagojevich seemed once again to be arguing that he was innocent when he addressed reporters and supporters on Wednesday, and the speech is not likely to help him in the appeals process.

“The statements yesterday were a little bit different from the statements he made before Judge (James B.) Zagel on his day of sentencing, when he really did apologize and said he did wrong,” Miller said. “Now he’s back to the tours Rod Blagojevich when he was making the tours on all the TV shows and talking about his innocence. He’s back to that again. So I was kind of surprised that he kind of changed his tune a little bit yesterday.”

On Dec. 7 of last year before he was sentenced, Blagojevich was thoroughly contrite as he admitted to “terrible mistakes.”

“I’m here convicted of crimes. The jury decided that I was guilty, and I am accepting of it, and I acknowledge it, and I am unbelievably sorry for it,” he said at the time. He said he never set out to break the law and was ignorant that he had done anything illegal, but still admitted that he had done so.

But on Wednesday, he seemed to be back to arguing that he was in the right.

“We have great trust and faith in the appeal, and while my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America, this is a country that is governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail, that right makes might, and that this, as bad as it is, is the beginning of another part of our long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but that this is not over,” he said.

Blagojevich’ self-assured statement likely won’t bode well for him during the appeals process, Miller said.

“I guarantee that the judges that are hearing his appeal were watching that yesterday. It’s not going to help him going back to that old criterion that: ‘I’m just a guy. I’m wrongly convicted. I’m not the bad guy; it was the judge and the prosecutors. That’s not exactly the way you want to when you’ve got an appeal pending,” Miller said.

Blagojevich doesn’t stand much of a chance at this point when it comes to getting a new trial, Miller said.

“He’s trying to get the 7th Circuit or Judge Zagel to give him a brand new trial. The problem with that is if he gets a new trial, they’re going to use what he said before Judge Zagel at the sentencing hearing, you know, ‘I was wrong, I did wrong,’ at the trial. ” Miller said. “So he’s not going too far, even if he gets a new trial.”

But Miller says Blagojevich has a good shot at appealing his 14-year sentence.

“Fourteen years is a really stiff sentence. When you look at George Ryan – 6 1/2 years – does he really deserve more than double what George Ryan got?” Miller said. “So I think his best shot on appeal is hope that he will cut his time, give him a new sentencing hearing, and allow him some relief that way.”

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