- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

CHICAGO — Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has offered up a lengthy list of alleged errors and biases at his recently concluded corruption retrial in asking a federal judge to set aside his multiple convictions and grant him yet another trial.

In a 158-page motion, considered voluminous even by legal standards, Blagojevich’s attorneys lambasted prosecutors and the presiding judge for a lack of evenhandedness, which, they argue, led a jury last month to convict the former governor on 17 of 20 charges.

“It is a case of overwhelming bias against the defense in which the playing field was so unlevel that Blagojevich never stood a chance at a fair trial,” according to the motion filed late Monday in federal court.

Jurors found Blagojevich, 54, guilty on the majority of counts against him, including fraud and attempted extortion for trying to sell or trade President Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat in exchange for campaign donations or a high-paying job.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, Randall Samborn, declined to comment on the motion. The government could respond at a status hearing set for next week.

Post-trial motions by the defense are common as a way to lay down arguments attorneys can draw from when they appeal to a higher court. Blagojevich’s lawyers had to ask for permission, though, for the longer-than-usual filing.

The motion argues that the trial began going awry from the start as Judge James Zagel allowed jurors with heavy biases to stay in the jury pool. When there were objections during testimony, it says, Judge Zagel almost invariably sided with prosecutors.

“There was a thumb on the scale of justice which resulted in the unconstitutional convictions in this case,” the motion says. It also points directly at Judge Zagel, saying, “This court stacked the deck against Blagojevich.”

No sentencing date for Blagojevich has been set. Most legal experts say Judge Zagel is likely to sentence him to around 10 years in prison on the recent convictions and his sole conviction at his first trial last year, for lying to the FBI. The initial trial ended in a deadlock, forcing the retrial.



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