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Court tosses Ex-Gov. Blagojevich conviction over Obama’s Senate seat


Federal judges vacated five of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) convictions in a unanimous ruling that will prompt a retrial.

Blagojevich has been in prison since 2012 on a 14-year sentence for a slew of convictions, including corruption charges related to the Senate seat that became vacant when President Obama won the 2008 presidential election. A jury found that Blagojevich tried to trade the seat for either a cabinet appointment from Obama or other concessions, including money.

But the decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals questioned whether his proposal to trade a cabinet appointment in exchange for appointing top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat is actually a crime.

{mosads}The judges said that trading official acts is “a form of logrolling,” which may be ”legally different” from a bribe for. The judges write that exchanging official acts is a “common exercise” and that they could not find any examples of convictions for it in the past.

“It would be more than a little surprising to Members of Congress if the judiciary found in the Hobbs Act, or the mail fraud statute, a rule making everyday politics criminal,” Judge Frank Easterbook wrote for the court, referring to a law that deals with extortion.

The decision also notes that some historians believe that Earl Warren became the Supreme Court’s chief justice by helping President Eisenhower win California at the 1952 Republican convention.

But the judges affirmed the rest of the charges against Blagojevich and while they ordered a retrial on the vacated convictions, it may not lessen the former governor’s sentence.

The decision shot down Blagojevich’s argument that his sentence was too high and argued that “any error in the [sentencing] calculation went in Blagojevich’s favor.”

Since he is still guilty on the majority of counts and the judges didn’t believe that he was sentenced harshly, the former governor will remain in jail during the retrial. 

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