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Rod Blagojevich And Jury Nullification?

July 10, 2010

For the past few weeks there has been one story that I have followed religiously in the pages of the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times.  There is just nothing more sensational or bombastic than the trial for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  There are countless name dropping moments, spiteful and often curse-filled audio tapes, and of course the most curious comings and goings of the soon to be rightfully convicted pol.   The prosecution will end their side of the trial on Tuesday.  The judge has ordered the defense to be ready on Wednesday.

And then…….jury nullification via his (Rod Blagojevich) kinship with other working politicians?

I think not, but it makes for one heck of an idea this weekend as we wait for more theatrics next week.   So read on……

See, without the ability to redefine the tapes, the Blagojevich defense has to accept that the prosecution’s evidence is overwhelming and the jurors are going to find him guilty of breaking the law. But whether they convict him for it is another matter. Because by repeatedly invoking the powerful politicians who run the country — many of them from Illinois — his lawyers might just persuade the jury that Blagojevich’s crimes are the byproduct of a broken system. Placed under surveillance, any politician would be up on the same bevy of charges. The only just course, the defense could argue, is for the jury to nullify the charges by voting to acquit.prominent Chicago politicians we know? The governor was again heard venting about the strain of governing and how he needed to start making money. You sure that wiretap wasn’t meant for Wasilla? Another tape captured Blago’s discussion of filling a Senate or cabinet post while Patti could imitate Tom Daschle’s wife and get a job as a high-paid D.C. lobbyist. A witness said Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., was cognizant of Blago’s plot to exchange Obama’s Senate seat for $1 million in donations.which is possible) while convincing them that politicians they already revere do unpleasant things when they’re not looking.

The recent evidence shows more of what he has to work with. It was alleged that Tony Rezko sent prepackaged real estate commissions to gubernatorial spouse Patti in order to funnel money for Blagojevich family home renovations. Sound like any other

And that’s just the last two days.

Nullification would be the jury’s way of saying that while Blago violated the law, he did not violate the prevailing standards by which politicians conduct their business. And for that, it’d be wrong to send him to jail. One problem with jury nullification is that it’s selective justice. If Blagojevich can’t be convicted for these crimes, then what politician can? Are there twelve people on the jury who think that we punish our pols too lightly? Are there twelve people in the whole United States who think that?

Which is why Blagojevich’s appeal would have to be more of a personal approach. He’d have to do the double duty of becoming a highly sympathetic figure in the jury’s eyes (

Nullification is not a pretty strategy, and the defendant* seems to have too much pride to do it successfully. But unless they find some other way to counter the prosecution’s evidence or circumvent Zagel, they may be left with no other choice.

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