Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blagojevich legal request not unusual, but also not likely to be granted

During the just over a quarter-of-a-century that I have been a reporter-type person and have covered legal proceedings, I have come to the realization that judges bear a strong resemblance to King Louis XVI.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yet another legal appeal
Or at least the version of the French king that was portrayed by Mel Brooks in “History of the World, Part I.”

THE GUY WHO behaved in whatever a manner his whim felt appropriate, constantly telling us, “It’s good to be the king.”

Judges base their decisions on the law, but are given the authority to make their interpretations based on what they think the law means. That is the Democratic way – they serve as a check on political people who exceed their authority.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the nine justices who comprise the Court of Appeals in Chicago (who oversee cases throughout the Midwestern U.S.) probably won’t be all that enthused about the request made this week by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

A three-judge panel recently rejected many of the grounds upon which Blagojevich was challenging his criminal convictions on multiple charges – the ones that got him nearly a 14-year prison term out in Colorado.

BLAGOJEVICH ASKED FOR the entire appeals court to reconsider that ruling. Which makes sense from Blagojevich’s point of view – he wants out of prison sooner rather than later.

He’s following the legal procedure, give the Court of Appeals a chance to reconsider before he takes the matter to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Which is probably less likely to take this case seriously than the Court of Appeals.

If judges are like Mel Brooks' King Louis XVI,...
Judges usually want to respect the actions of their judicial counterparts. They would prefer to think that all legal people have an appreciation for the law. But they will take actions to alter them if they feel it absolutely necessary.

SO WHAT’S LIKELY to happen with Blagojevich’s request for a rehearing?

Blagojevich is taking the viewpoint that the rules under which he was found guilty are so strict that no political person could avoid conviction – unless they manage to avoid the glare of a prosecutorial type.
... does that make Blagojevich just like Brooks' piss boy?
“The jury instructions used to convict me in my case are not the law. It makes the standard so low that any politician can be jailed at the whim of an ambitious prosecutor,” Blagojevich wrote, in a statement published by a public relations firm that is working toward his eventual release from prison.

Of course, there are some people whose view of electoral politics is such that they probably like the idea of everybody being put away behind bars – they’re usually the type who can’t stand the idea of anybody’s ideas other than their own being represented.

NOT THAT I’M convinced Blagojevich’s appeal is going anywhere. Because judges by nature have that “It’s good to be the King” mentality to them.

They’re not required to rule on the merits of Blagojevich’s request. They could just as easily issue a brief statement saying “no” and leave it at that. They certainly don’t have to explain why they don’t think this case is worth reconsidering.

And the chance that Blagojevich can convince a majority of the full Court of Appeals? It’s a long-shot. I don’t know that the bulk of the justices are willing to suddenly think that Milorod is a victim – when the reality is that the bulk of society is more than willing to wish that Blagojevich get the harshest of penalties possible (and is upset that the judicial panel went so far as to strike down five of the charges for which he was found guilty).

But then again, the best stories are the ones that come totally out of left field – so unexpected that everyone’s initial reaction is silence! Then shock, and anger. Furious anger!


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