Rod Blagojevich (D)
CHICAGO (Legal Newsline)-Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's federal corruption trial will begin as planned on June 3, a judge ruled Wednesday, rejecting the defense's request for postponement.
Blagojevich's legal team had requested a continuance until November in light of a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision that could change the way honest services statutes are written. Of the 24 counts against Blagojevich, about half allege violations of the honest services statute.
U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel in the Northern District of Illinois said the defense's argument based on the pending decision amounts to a red herring.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to racketeering, conspiracy and other corruption charges. Federal prosecutors allege the former Democratic governor attempted to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat in exchange for political favors.
On Wednesday, Zagel also said he is likely to allow Blagojevich to play secret FBI recordings favorable to the former governor's defense if he agrees to take the stand.
For their part, federal prosecutors have opposed any delay in the trial. They say the ousted governor, who made his debut on the NBC television show "The Celebrity Apprentice" on Sunday, has had time to prepare for trial since his indictment last year.
Zagel was nominated to the federal court in 1987 by Republican President Ronald Reagan. He is a former Cook County prosecutor and director of the state Department of Revenue.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.