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Supreme Court denies request to hear Rod Blagojevich appeal

ABC 7 News Chicago

Monday, April 16, 2018  |  Article  |  By Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel

Blagojevich, Rod , Courts (27)
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday morning decided NOT to hear the appeal of defrocked Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption case. The court's refusal to hear Blagojevich's

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday morning decided NOT to hear the appeal of defrocked Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption case. The court's refusal to hear Blagojevich's appeal effectively puts an end to his conventional legal options.

The only possibility for relief now would be presidential intervention-a pardon from President Donald Trump. Blagojevich has a standing request with the White House for clemency. It was filed under President Barack Obama, who's U.S. senate seat Blagojevich was accused of trying to secretly auction to the highest bidder. Prior to leaving office President Obama declined to act on the clemency request.

Justices had discussed Blagojevich's appeal request last Friday at their weekly conference. He was trying to convince them that the law he was convicted of violating is not evenly enforced-or interpreted-across the U.S. The ex-governor believes that what is legal political horse-trading in some states is an illegal quid pro quo in others-and was asking the Supreme Court to straighten out the confusion.

Blagojevich requested his appeal be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court-as he had done and been denied once before-claiming he is innocent and that he never made explicit promises in exchange for campaign contributions.

In January, 2009 he was impeached and convicted by the Illinois General Assembly for corruption after he solicited bribes for political appointments, including Barack Obama's Senate seat. Six years into a scandalous period of Blagojevich reign, the Illinois senate voted unanimously to remove the governor from office. He had made an 11th hour plea for his job but when senators respond with a no vote, Blagojevich walked out of the chamber in silence. His former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, was sworn in as the state's 41st governor a short time later.

For the Land of Lincoln though, the legal ringer had barely begun cranking. Images would fester for years-and to this day-of perp walks outside federal court, explosive legal hearings, another governor behind bars and Illinois' entrenchment as a state of corruption.

Blagojevich has now served more than five years of a 14-year sentence in a Colorado prison. His wife Patti has said that the appeal which led to today's decision would be her husband's last.

The odds were stacked against Blagojevich even getting his appeal heard by the Supreme Court. The justices on Monday decided to hear none of the cases on their current weekly list-and denied dozens. Annually 8000 appeals are requested of the court and on average only 80 are approved. That is a 1% success ratio-a ratio that Illinois' former governor on Monday did not make.

Blagojevich's attorney Leonard Goodman said that he would publicly respond only in victory and did not reply to immediate requests for comment from the ABC7 I-Team. There is also no immediate word from the White House on whether President Trump might offer relief to Blagojevich, whom he knows from the Celebrity Apprentice TV show in 2010. Prior to being elected president, Trump had been quoted as saying he felt bad for Blagojevich and his family.

"We would obviously make that appeal to the president for a commutation. Rod has a relationship with him from when he was on 'The Apprentice,'" said wife Patti Blagojevich. "President Trump has said numerous times and made public statements astonished at the length of the sentence and in support of Rod. I think he has a favorable opinion of him. So, God forbid we don't have success here, that obviously would be our next step."