Q&A on Blagojevich: What's next after request for rehearing

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Posted: Aug 05, 2015 1:43 AM
Q&A on Blagojevich: What's next after request for rehearing

CHICAGO (AP) — Imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear his appeal. A three-judge panel of the court in July threw out five of 18 corruption counts and ordered that the Chicago Democrat be resentenced. But if the full court rehears the case and tosses more counts, Blagojevich's chances of shaving significant time off his 14-year prison term would improve.

Here's a look at the request made Tuesday and what happens next:

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ON WHAT GROUNDS WAS THE REQUEST MADE?

Among the arguments defense attorneys made for a full-court rehearing is that some findings by the panel contradict U.S. Supreme Court rulings. They also argued that the Blagojevich case is so unique that it justifies scrutiny by the entire court. In its ruling, the panel threw out convictions linked to Blagojevich's attempt to land a post in President Barack Obama's Cabinet in exchange for appointing an Obama adviser to the president's old U.S. Senate seat.

HOW LIKELY IS A REHEARING?

Such requests are rarely granted. Out of dozens of requests a year, the 7th Circuit typically ends up hearing just a few. Sometimes, it happens just once a year.

HOW MANY JUDGES TAKE PART?

Nine active judges on the 7th Circuit hear such full-court sessions, known as "en banc" rehearings. And only those nine judges vote on whether to authorize such a rehearing, with a majority needed to approve it. Five senior judges on the court don't take part.

WHY DO JUDGES AGREE TO REHEARINGS?

Judges rehear an appeal if they believe the initial ruling contradicts rulings in other cases or if they feel there's a uniquely important legal question involved. Blagojevich's attorneys say that unique question is about where the line is between legal and illegal political horse-trading.

WHAT'S THE TIMETABLE?

Now that the request for a rehearing is filed, judges are supposed to decide within two weeks whether grant it. If they agree, all the active 7th Circuit judges would have to rehear oral arguments.

WHAT IF THE COURT REFUSES TO REHEAR THE CASE?

If the judges turn down the request, he has one option left: Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Regardless of whether Blagojevich does that, the 7th Circuit will set the timeline for his resentencing in Chicago by a trial judge. That could happen later this year or in early 2016.

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Source: AP, published 7th Circuit rules of procedure.