CHICAGO (CBS) — Three months after he returned home from prison, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has lost his license to practice law, after the Illinois Supreme Court officially disbarred him on Monday.
Blagojevich’s law license had been suspended since his 2011 conviction on corruption charges. In March, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission on Tuesday recommended he be forbidden from ever practicing law again in Illinois.
The former governor was released from prison on Feb. 18, after President Donald Trump commuted his sentence. He had served just shy of eight years out of a sentence of 14.
Despite his conviction on multiple corruption charges, the ARDC couldn’t move forward on disbarring him until all of his appeals had been exhausted. Months after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case in 2018, the ARDC began that process.
Blagojevich, 63, did not attend the hearing on his license in Feburary, but his longtime defense attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, appeared on his behalf.
The ARDC noted that Blagojevich was convicted of committing “numerous” crimes while governor. He also never complied with discovery requests, appeared for a deposition, or appeared at his hearing before the ARDC that resulted in his law license being suspended, the ARDC said.
“As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and elected official, Respondent was well aware of his obligation to uphold the law, and, as governor, he took an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office of governor to the best of his ability. Instead of doing so, he sought to further his own interests by engaging in a pattern of dishonest and deceptive conduct,” the ARDC wrote.
For his own part, Blagojevich has indicated that he does not much care about being disbarred. In an interview with CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov in February, he said, “Frankly, I’m not really that interested.”
The former governor said he never even considered fighting to keep his law license. Blagojevich said he hasn’t practiced law in 25 years, and compared trying to do so now to flying on a plane with a pilot in a similar situation.
“How would you like to get onto a plane with a pilot who hasn’t flown a plane for 25 years? I don’t want to hurt anybody. It’s been a long, long time. So, whatever happens will happen. I’m certain that whatever they end up doing will not put me in a position to ever again handle a legal case in that building over there,” he said, referring to the Daley Center courthouse.
In 2011, a federal jury convicted Blagojevich of, among other things, trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama before he was elected president in 2008. A federal jury also convicted him of charges he tried to shake down a racetrack owner, a tollway construction company executive, and the CEO of a children’s hospital; and for lying to the feds to cover it all up.
In addition to the loss of his law license, Blagojevich is barred from holding elected office in Illinois again. When the Illinois Senate unanimously voted to remove him as governor in 2009, they also voted to disqualify him from holding elected office again in Illinois.