CHICAGO | Former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s attorneys said Tuesday they are so determined to delay the start of his corruption trial that they will go to the Supreme Court if they can’t get a postponement elsewhere.
Attorney Sam Adam said he is hoping that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a ruling delaying the trial’s scheduled June 3 start, but added he is prepared to go to the nation’s highest court.
“If the ruling is adverse, and I do not anticipate that it will be, we will go to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Mr. Adam told reporters after a brief hearing Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel has twice refused to grant a delay.
Mr. Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to scheming to use his power as governor to sell or trade President Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. He also has pleaded not guilty to illegally pressuring potential campaign contributors.
His brother, Nashville businessman Robert Blagojevich, has also pleaded not guilty to scheming to shake down a potential campaign contributor and sell or trade the Senate seat.
Defense attorneys say Rod Blagojevich can’t get a fair trial if it begins June 3. They want to delay its start until the Supreme Court resolves challenges to a complex federal statute known as the honest services fraud law, which forms the basis for many of the charges Rod Blagojevich faces.
The Supreme Court is expected to resolve the issue in June.
The law makes it illegal for officials to deny taxpayers their honest services. Critics say it is unfairly vague.
Defense attorneys argue they can’t adequately present an opening statement until they know exactly which charges they have to fight, and that their strategy could change depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the honest services law.
They asked the appeals court to expedite their request, and they were at the court Friday awaiting a decision.
Prosecutors, who want the trial to start as scheduled, planned for the eventuality that the Supreme Court might overturn the honest services law by obtaining a fresh indictment against the brothers that adds charges that don’t pertain to that law.
Prosecutors say if the high court throws out the honest services law, they plan to proceed with the recently added charges.