Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BLAGOJEVICH VERDICT IN: Guilty of Single Minor Charge

After two weeks of deliberation, the jury has returned a verdict in the corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Although prosecutors charged Blagojevich with 24 counts, the jury only found him guilty of a single charge of lying to federal investigators. The jury deadlocked on the remaining charges. Prosecutors have announced that they will retry Blagojevich.

My Take
The federal prosecutors should be embarrassed. They described this trial as the case of the century. The charges cost Blagojevich his political office and resulted in a battle over his decision to name Roland Burris to the Senate.

After weeks of proceedings, multiple charges, and supposedly scandalous telephone recordings, the jury only convicted Blagojevich of one of the most minor charges. Furthermore, the charge of lying to investigators is clearly a "safety" charge. Prosecutors rely upon it when they cannot prove the primary accusations.

An insufficient number of jurors bought the prosecution's main case, but jurors agreed that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. Personally, I think this particular charge is bizarre for our legal system. The charge does not require that the lie occur during sworn testimony, and it seems to contradict the basic right not to speak with investigators at all.

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