Reporting by WBEZ’s Robert Wildeboer used in this report.
Within the next few weeks, attorneys for ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will be asking Judge James Zagel for a mistrial. That’s unlikely to succeed, which means they’ll move on to a higher court. Still, Blagojevich’s testimony could cause problems for an appeal.
Attorney Joel Bertocchi has spent much of his career specializing in appeals, and he said two things must happen in order to win. One, you must convince the appeals court that the trial judge made an error, and two, that the error made a difference in the outcome.
“A lot of judges on appeals courts are trial judges and they know what trial judges and trial lawyers know about criminal cases, which is that when a defendant testifies, that’s really thought of as being kind of the ballgame,” Bertocchi said.
Bertocchi said even if the court finds Judge Zagel made an error, they probably won’t grant an appeal.
They’d consider Blagojevich’s testimony more important than most judicial errors.
Blagojevich was convicted of 17 out of 20 counts, including attempting to sell or trade Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.