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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

ANDY MARTIN: Blagojevich case backfires on the federal government

Law professor Andy Martin says the political prosecution and persecution of Rod Blagojevich will become an increasing embarrassment for federal prosecutors and the Obama administration.

Internet powerhouse Andy Martin says the Blagojevich verdict is a big win for the former governor

Marin says the Blago prosecution backfired because it was blatantly political
“The Internet Powerhouse”
Andy Martin
Executive Editor

“Factually Correct, Not Politically Correct”


ATTENTION: Assignment Editors: Andy is available for interviews

Andy Martin says Blagojevich is the victim of a corrupt political persecution that blew up in the government’s face

Andy Martin says the “ancient” Illinois “writ” of “fixicatus” is about to descend on the U. S. Attorney’s office

Andy asks “Why is the U. S. Attorney’s office is persecuting Blagojevich? Who’s got the action on this?”

(CHICAGO)(August 17, 2010) When Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested in 2008 I expressed the opinion that federal prosecutors had overreached. I wrote a second column during the trial expressing skepticism about the prosecution’s case.

Today the case blew up in the prosecutors’ faces. There is now no doubt the former Illinois governor is the target of a bitter political vendetta. The jury’s verdict also shows what happens when ordinary jurors see the awesome power of the federal government being misused: they punted. Instead of retrying the Blagojevich case, prosecutors should dismiss the 23 counts that resulted in a deadlock.

I don’t know what “lie” Blago has been convicted of telling federal investigators, but I also know the lying-to-the-feds statute is the most abused and overused criminal law in the country. You can always find some answer that’s self-serving and call it a lie and get a grand jury to indict.

If I were the U. S. Attorney, I would be embarrassed. He staged a massive publicity parade in 2008, and made a charge that most competent lawyers knew could not stick: Blago was selling a senate seat. It was a sexy accusation and like most things sexy there was not much behind it.

BS’ing in a private office is not a crime. Spinning out extreme and even offensive scenarios in private is not a crime, even if they are caught on federal wiretaps. People have a right to privacy in their own offices. Big Brother can't create a crime by listening in on your home or office and criminalizing your idle chatter. Blago’s associates were also as sleazy as they come.

Dragging in Blago's brother was a despicable act. It boomeranged with the jury.

The sad fact is that Blagojevich may be guiltily of some crime, but the feds in their obsession with validating the “selling the senate seat” arrest botched the real criminal case and allowed the political prosecution to predominate. That’s a misuse of federal prosecutorial discretion.

Ironically, in retrospect Blagojevich probably would have been acquitted if he had taken the stand and mounted a defense. The jury was favorably disposed. His “conviction” on one count was probably a compromise verdict by people that were tired after two weeks of being in seclusion and may have been starting to wear on each other.

Blago’s lawyers did an excellent job of securing a hung jury. But their strategy could not result in an acquittal. On retrial, they should fight for an acquittal and not a hung jury.

The lead prosecutor’s immediate demand for a retrial is indicative that he has developed an obsession, lost all perspective, and should be replaced by a cooler head.

My guess, Blago will not spend any time in jail when the entire circus is over. He might spend a short stint, but the time he spends in jail will not have been worth the federal prosecutorial and investigative resources that were devoted to convicting him if it takes two or three trials.

Although prosecutors always have the edge, the judge in this case is going face all kinds of growing problems. Is he going to have to appoint public defenders for Blago and his brother? That would be a major embarrassment for the federal government. They are trying to destroy someone financially with endless prosecutions but with a minimum of real evidence.

In my opinion, the odds in Blago’s favor will improve with each additional trial. This is a case that s going to get weaker, not stronger, as it progresses.

The fact is, Blago didn’t even put on a defense and got a hung jury. What if he had mounted a real defense and subpoenaed Obama administration officials? He would have been acquitted. The Blagojevich case is going to become an increasing embarrassment for President Obama and his Chicago-based associates.

As the case unfolded, I was astounded at the amount of evidence that was strongly in Blago's favor that was never exploited because Blago did not mount a full defense. You can sometimes put in most of a defense through cross-examination, but Blago’s defense called for witnesses. My advice to Blago: next time, call witnesses and take the stand. You’ll win.

I would not be surprised to see a “senior management” decision to end the case. As we jocularly call it in Chicago courts, it’s the ancient Illinois writ of “fixicatus.” Trust me, the writ of fixicatus is in the offing. The fix will be in. Soon.

There is an old expression, “it’s better to be lucky than be smart.” Prosecutors proved Blago was not smart. Today he was lucky.

U. S. Attorney Fitzgerald: it’s time to fold’em. You took your best shot and blew it. Now move on.

P.S. I have no links, not even the remotest, to Blago or his lawyers. No inside information. These views are my independent observations based on over 40 years experience in the U. S. Courthouse in Chicago.

P.P.S. I have to be in federal court Thursday morning. Wish me luck.

ABOUT ANDY: Andy Martin is the legendary New York and Chicago-based muckraker, author, Internet columnist, radio talk show host, broadcaster and media critic. He has over forty years of background in radio and television and is the dean of Illinois media and communications. He promotes his best-selling book, “Obama: The Man Behind The Mask” and his Internet movie "Obama: The Hawai'i years." Martin has been a leading corruption fighter in Illinois for over forty years. He is currently sponsoring
Andy is the Executive Editor and publisher of the “Internet Powerhouse,” He comments on regional, national and world events with more than four decades of investigative and overseas experience. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and is a former adjunct professor of law at the City University of New York (LaGuardia CC, Bronx CC).

UPDATES: Andy's columns are also posted at;[NOTE: We try to correct any typographical errors in this story on our blogs; find our latest edition there.]

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