Blagojevich's Criminal Defense Lawyer Quits

Rod Blagojevich's criminal defense attorney, well-known criminal defense attorney Ed Genson, said today he will withdraw from representing Blagojevich.

"I never require a client to do what I say," said Genson, who was accompanied by fellow Blagojevich lawyer Sheldon Sorosky. "But I do require them to at least listen."

"I wish the governor good luck and Godspeed," he added.

It sounds like Genson has not been kept in the loop, particularly with respect to a threatened civil suit Blago's other attorney, Sam Adams, said would be filed within a few days. [More...]

Defense attorney Samuel E. Adam told The Associated Press Thursday that a lawsuit could be filed with the Illinois Supreme Court within days, pending a final decision. But Genson told the Sun-Times no lawsuit would be filed.

There was a court hearing today in the criminal case. U.S. Attorney Patric k Fitzgerald received court approval to tender the tapes of four intercepted calls to the investigations unit of the legislature. Even though the House Report has been released, the investigation is ongoing.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald is allowing an FBI special agent to testify at Gov. Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial, though his testimony about the profanity-laced covert recordings obtained of the governor will be sharply limited, documents filed in the legislature this afternoon show.

David Ellis, the House prosecutor for the Senate impeachment trial, today notified senators that Fitzgerald will allow FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain to testify as to the accuracy of the secret recordings which federal authorities used to file criminal charges and arrest Blagojevich at his home on Dec. 9.

According to the court order issued today, available on PACER, the four calls pertain to paragraph 68(e) of the criminal complaint and are conversations of Blagojevich and other interceptees. It seems pretty clear from the pleadings filed to date, one of those interceptees is Blago's brother and another is "Lobbyist 1."

"Lobbyist 1" refers to himself as ""Unindicted, Unidentified Interceptee." His lawyer is John Collins. Although Blago and the others were provided the opportunity to object, and at one time indicated they would, they ended up filing statements saying they weren't going to file motions to suppress the tapes at this time. They thought the matter was moot since the House report was out and said it's not feasible to file a motion to suppress when they haven't been given all the tapes or papers supporting the wiretap.

The Court defined the question as:

The primary question is whether the Special Investigative Committee is qualified to receive disclosure of, and thereafter to use, the copies of the four redacted recordings pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2517(1) and (2). For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that the members of the Special Investigative Committee are and remain investigative officers to whom the government may disclose copies of the four redacted recordings of the electronically ntercepted communications.

The Court notes:

Ordinarily recordings of communications intercepted by the government are not disclosed before an indictment is returned against a criminal defendant. This case, however, is exceptional and comes before me in this pre-indictment setting, as the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, pursuant to my authority to hear "[a]ll requests for authorization for interceptions of wire and oral communications or other investigatory matters arising under Chapter 119 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code." N.D. Ill. L. Cr. R.50.2(2).

The Judge rules:

The Special Investigative Committee is Qualified to Receive Redacted Copies of the Intercepted Communications.

The question of whether telephonic communications of a sitting state governor, electronically intercepted by the government, may be disclosed during the post-complaint, pre-indictment stage of a federal criminal proceeding to a state legislative committee convened to investigate the governor and make a recommendation on the governor's impeachment is unprecedented.

....because the members of the Special Investigative Committee are and remain authorized by law to conduct investigations into the misconduct of defendant Blagojevich in connection with his impeachment, including conduct that violated the criminal laws of the United States, the members of the Special Investigative Committee are investigative officers as defined by section 2510(7) and thus are qualified to receive disclosures under section 2517(1) for use in the performance of their official duties.

He finds no merit in Blago's position that the House report ended the investigation and makes the request moot.

The government's motion is not moot because the Special Investigative Committee's authority to investigate defendant Blagojevich's alleged misconduct is ongoing. Specifically, the 96th Illinois General Assembly has explicitly recognized the need for the members of the Special Investigative Committee to continue their investigation and has authorized them to take further evidence as necessary.

As for the wiretaps themselves:

As I have stated before, I scrutinized the government’s conduct regarding the electronic surveillance employed in this investigation during the course of this investigation. As Chief Judge, I am entrusted with the duty in connection with all government investigations, where the evaluation of an independent judicial officer is required, to protect the rights of all persons and entities under investigation against improper government conduct. I take that obligation seriously in every matter over which I preside, and have done so here.

Consequently, I am well aware of the procedures followed by the government in this investigation. Based upon that, I firmly believe there has been compliance with the law.

From a Fitz filing:

These calls bear on a discrete episode of criminal conduct alleged in the complaint affidavit, specifically at Paragraph 68(e), and the calls are evidence of a criminal offense that the government was authorized to monitor under the wiretap order.

.... If disclosure to the Special Investigative Committee is ultimately approved, the four calls will likely be viewed together as relating to one alleged criminal episode, and it may thus be appropriate for the interceptees on any one call to receive copies of all four redacted calls in order to respond to this motion.

This doesn't bode well for Blagojevich: losing his most experienced and capable attorney and the judge defending his own actions in granting the wiretaps.

Blago, of course, is going to hit the airwaives, making his case to the public next week, on Good Morning America and The View. As if that would help him. His best bet is to get another attorney of the caliber of Genson. Blago should be worried more about going to prison than losing his job as Governor. As Genson has said, it's a foregone conclusion the Senate will impeach him when the trial ends.

The trial begins Monday. Blago's other lawyer, Sam Adams, has said he may not even attend.

Message to Blago: Freedom is a commodity far more precious than any political position. The View and GMA can't help you avoid a conviction in the criminal case. Trials still take place in courtrooms, not living rooms, no matter how much the media makes it seem otherwise.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Does Blago have a good point (none / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Fri Jan 23, 2009 at 10:53:42 PM EST
    on the fact that he will not be allowed to call any witnesses in his defense at the impeachment trial?  Therefore why should he be present at the senate trial if he sees it as a kangaroo court.

    Is this practice by the Il senate kosher? Or is it different Senate Trial vs Criminial Trial?

    In the movie Inherit the Wind, Spencer Tracy acting as Clarence Darrell was not allowed one witness on behalf of his client Scope but they were wrong.

    Blago's claim that he (none / 0) (#2)
    by caseyOR on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 12:28:14 AM EST
    cannot present witnesses is wrong. My understanding is he at one time wanted to have other governors testify on his behalf, but he never asked anyone.

    Were talking about the Fitz witnesses (none / 0) (#4)
    by Saul on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 09:00:13 AM EST
    Blago wants to call the very people that are included in the Fitz investigation in the Senate trial but Fitz told the Senate that Blago could not call these witnesses. Witnesses like Rahm Emanuel, JJJr. etc. This is what he is complaining about.

    Is Blago mentally defective? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jacob Freeze on Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 11:12:39 AM EST
    What can Blago possibly be thinking? He would have to be drooling to fit the profile of a defendant "unable to assist with his own defense" any more perfectly!