August 21, 2010

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF GOVERNING:

Horse-trading is no crime, Blagojevich says (LA Times, 8/21/10)

Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday accused prosecutors of trying to criminalize political horse-trading and said that he would not accept any plea deal. [...]

Blagojevich continued to insist he had done nothing wrong, saying prosecutors had captured him on tape discussing only "possibilities" with lawyers and political advisors. "Political horse-trading … this is what they are trying to criminalize," he said.

He accused prosecutors of hypocrisy, saying they frequently make deals with convicted felons. "The very thing they charge me with, they should charge themselves with," he said.

He said political horse-trading was a necessity in American politics and asserted that a congressman who voted for President Obama's healthcare package was rewarded by having his brother nominated to a federal judgeship.


Jurors Fault Complexity of the Blagojevich Trial (MONICA DAVEY and SUSAN SAULNY, 8/18/10, NY Times)
As the jurors in the corruption case against Rod R. Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor, entered a 25th-floor conference room here, one problem was instantly clear: They were overwhelmed.

The judge had handed them instructions that ran to more than a hundred pages. The verdict sheet was as elaborate as some income tax forms. And many of the 24 counts they were being asked to consider came in multiple parts and were highly technical and interconnected.

“It was like, ‘Here’s a manual, go fly the space shuttle,” Steve Wlodek, one of the jurors, said Wednesday. [...]

It also became clear early on that some jurors believed that much of Mr. Blagojevich’s crass political talk — captured in hours of secretly recorded phone calls — amounted to dreamy thoughts of what he might gain, not criminal demands. [...]

After initial frustration and confusion upon arriving in the deliberation room with little sense of what to do next, the jurors laid out a plan.

On large sheets of paper, they wrote down crimes Mr. Blagojevich was accused of committing, and taped each one on the walls around the room. On the sheets: a claim that he had sought political contributions in exchange for legislation to help a local pediatric hospital; another that he had sought a political fund-raising event in exchange for state financing for a school; another that he had sought payments for a law that would benefit the horse racing industry; and so on.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2010 8:00 AM
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