Blagojevich sentencing delayed indefinitely

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] on Monday indefinitely delayed the sentencing of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [personal website; JURIST news archive]. Blagojevich was scheduled to be sentenced on October 6 after he was convicted [JURIST report] in June on multiple counts of corruption. US District Court Judge James Zagel gave no reason for the delay, but the date of sentencing was set to coincide with the start of the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini. The Cellini case is the last major trial stemming from investigations into the former governor’s administration. According to Blagojevich’s attorney, Blagojevich has no objection to the delay, and it is likely he will be sentenced in mid-October or early November. Blagojevich can appeal his conviction to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website].

Blagojevich was previously found guilty [JURIST report] last year of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on 23 additional charges. The prosecutors dropped some of the charges [JURIST report] to simplify the case for retrial including charges for racketeering. Last September, lawyers for Blagojevich asked the judge to throw out the sole conviction [JURIST report], stating that the government failed to meet its required burden of proof and that cross-examinations by the defense were plagued by “obstructionist” objections [Chicago Tribune report], which the court continuously sustained. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008.

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