Key arguments in Blagojevich appeal

AP News
Posted: Dec 13, 2013 1:06 AM

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawyer for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich steps before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Friday to argue in favor of overturning his corruption convictions. Short of that, his defense team wants the three-judge panel to agree to reduce Blagojevich's stiff, 14-year prison term. Among their arguments, first laid out in a 100-page court filing in July:

— Blagojevich had engaged in legal, run-of-the-mill "political horse-trading" as he sought a Cabinet seat, an ambassadorship or some other high-paying job for himself in exchange for appointing someone the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president.

— Trial Judge James Zagel wrongly added years to Blagojevich's sentence as a result of $1.5 million in campaign contributions that supporters of then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. allegedly offered if Blagojevich named Jackson to Obama's seat. The appeal says there's no proof such an offer was "accepted, negotiated or even entertained by Blagojevich."

— Zagel allowed one juror — referred to only as Juror No. 174 — to remain on the panel during Blagojevich's second, decisive trial, even after he said about Blagojevich during jury selection that, "I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty."

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— Zagel erred by not allowing Blagojevich to argue at his trial that, whether or not he broke the law, he acted in good faith and always thought his actions were legal.