August 25, 2015 Practice Points

Seventh Circuit Affirms Some Blagojevich Convictions, Reverses Others

The court concluded that the jury instructions failed to distinguish between the defendant’s proposal to trade one public act for another (legal) as opposed to his attempt to swap an official act for a private payment (illegal).

By Alexander S. Vesselinovitch – August 25, 2015

On July 21, 2015, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed five of eighteen convictions of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but it affirmed his convictions on the other counts. The court concluded that the jury instructions failed to distinguish between the defendant’s proposal to trade one public act for another (legal) as opposed to his attempt to swap an official act for a private payment (illegal). As a result, convictions under the Hobbs Act and for wire fraud and bribery were reversed because they could have been based on routine “logrolling,” which is a promise to trade one political favor for another. The government is free to retry the Blagojevich on the reversed counts, but he must be resentenced in any event. The case is U.S. v. Blagojevich, No. 11-3853 (7th Cir. July 21, 2015).

Alexander S. Vesselinovitch, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Chicago, IL


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