Federal prosecutors this morning asked U.S. District Judge James Zagel to declare Rod Blagojevich's plea for a trial delay "frivolous" and assume the case is moving forward on its June 3rd trial date.
Their plea came after defense lawyers on Friday appealed to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking for a trial delay until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether it will hold up a law at issue in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Chang said the pending appeal to the 7th Circuit shouldn't bring matters in Zagel's court to a halt. Chang argued that business should continue as usual in Zagel's courtroom unless the appeals court acts.
"We now have a June 3rd trial date and we ought to get ready for it," Chang said.
Zagel said he would decide today or tomorrow whether matters should come to a stop.
One of Blagojevich's lawyers, Sam Adam, said the defense's request is reasonable: hold up the trial for three to four weeks until the U.S. Supreme Court has decided whether the disputed honest services statute is unconstitutional.
The court is likely to rule by the end of June.
Rod and Robert Blagojevich are both charged with violating the honest services statute, which says it's illegal to deprive taxpayers of an official's "honest services."
Zagel has already ruled that the underlying facts in the case remain the same with or without honest services in the case and that opening statements can move forward without a supreme court clarification.
The defense says if the high court strikes down the law, their positions at trial will change.
"Any defense lawyer worth anything will tell you that they should know what they're charged with before trial," Adam said. "Our strategy will change if it isn't honest services, no question about it."
Prosecutors to Blagojevich judge: rule trial delay request 'frivolous'
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