CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — A new early-morning motion was filed Thursday by attorneys for deposed Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Julie Mann reports, the latest motion asks a federal judge to lift a court-ordered seal on all evidence, including hundreds of hours of secret FBI wiretap recordings.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Julie Mann reports
The seven-page motion filed at the U.S. District Court in Chicago early Thursday — two months before Blagojevich’s corruption retrial is slated to start — argues the two-year-old order barring the public release of evidence hurts Blagojevich lawyers’ more than prosecutors.
“It is a fundamentally unfair playing field,” the motion says.
Of hundreds wiretap recordings, only a small percentage were played at the first trial. The rest are barred from release by the seal order, including recordings of conversations between Blagojevich or his aides with prominent public figures not accused of any wrongdoing in the case.
Thursday’s filing also accuses the government of selectively releasing out-of-context excerpts before the first trial that “poisoned the jury pool,” arguing that the seal — called a protective order — makes it impossible for the defense to respond.
“The protective order has only served to permit the government to present half-truths and distortions and has handicapped Blagojevich’s ability to fight back against false government allegations and set the record straight,” the motion says.
In the most notorious wiretap outtake released by prosecutors before the first trial, Blagojevich is heard saying about Obama’s vacated seat: “I’ve got this thing and it’s (bleepin’) golden. . . . I’m just not giving it up for (bleepin’) nothing.”
A message seeking comment left Thursday morning for the U.S. Attorney’s office was not immediately returned.
This is the latest in several pre-trial motions by Blagojevich’s defense team, seeking the release of evidence for the jurors. Presiding Judge James Zagel had set Feb. 15 as a deadline to file all pretrial motions, but the defense this week asked for another few days. The next status hearing is Feb. 22, during which Zagel could accept or reject those motions.
The Monday motion said the tapes from before Blagojevich’s 2008 arrest show he tried to cut a legal political deal to name Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Also, a 34-page motion filed last Tuesday by Blagojevich similarly attempted to bolster the contention that a Madigan deal was being seriously considered on the very eve of his arrest.
The latest motion is the third within two weeks.
Blagojevich will face a retrial in April on 23 charges, including allegations he sought to sell or trade an appointment to Obama’s seat. At his first trial, jurors deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the FBI.
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