Court Swiftly Rejects Blagojevich’s Latest Appeal Of 14-Year Sentence

CHICAGO (CBS) — Only three days after hearing former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s latest request for a reduced sentence or a new trial, a federal appeals court has upheld his 14-year prison term.

On Tuesday, Blagojevich’s defense team appeared before a panel of judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking them to release the disgraced governor early, or at least grant him a third trial.

Attorney Len Goodman said circumstances have changed since Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011.

“There is new facts, there is new law from the Supreme Court that I think warrants the court to take another look at this case, and certainly the sentence,” he said Tuesday.

In an unusually swift decision, the judges turned away Blagojevich’s appeal on Friday.

The jury at Blagovevich’s second trial convicted him on 17 counts, including allegations that he tried to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by then-President Barack Obama. Five of those convictions were later thrown out, and the 7th Circuit ordered a new sentencing hearing, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave Blagojevich the same 14-year sentence he originally faced.

The former governor’s lawyers argued Zagel erred by not reducing Blagojevich’s sentence, claiming their client’s good deeds in prison were never truly considered at his resentencing hearing.

However, the appeals court said Zagel considered Blagojevich’s behavior in prison, but ruled “it did not justify a lower sentence, in large part because
none of the other inmates had known Blagojevich while he held office and therefore could not show that he had fundamentally changed his attitude toward corrupt dealing.”

They also noted that, even after they vacated five of the convictions Blagojevich faced, they said his 14-year sentence was not “unlawfully high.”

The 7th Circuit’s ruling sets up the possibility for Blagojevich to again take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, although the nation’s highest court declined to consider his appeal last year.

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