Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Blagojevich trial: U.S. Supreme Court limits "honest services" law

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In a much anticipated decision, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a ruling this morning that limits the use of an "honest services fraud" law, a move that could affect the charges against Rod Blagojevich.

First thing this morning, Blago's legal team reacted, asking Judge James Zagel to put the trial on hold until Monday or Tuesday so they could "digest" the decision. Zagel denied their request.

The charges against Blagojevich include several counts of honest services fraud. The law is based around the idea that citizens have an "intangible" right to the honest services of their politicians and others.

Here's the AP story:

ASSOCIATED PRESS and STAFF REPORTS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has sided with former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling in limiting the use of a federal fraud law that has been a favorite of white-collar crime prosecutors.

The court said Thursday that the "honest services" law could not be used in convicting Skilling for his role in the collapse of Enron. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her majority opinion that the ruling does not necessarily require Skilling's conviction to be overturned.

Former governor Rod Blagojevich was originally charged under the 'honest services' fraud law but was re-indicted in anticipation of the Supreme Court limiting use of the law.

During arguments on this case last December, several justices seemed inclined to limit prosecutors' use of this law, which critics have said is vague and has been used to make a crime out of mistakes and minor transgressions in the business and political world.

The court, at the same time, rejected Skilling's claim that he did not get a fair trial in Houston because of harshly critical publicity that surrounded the case in Enron's hometown.

The court in this ruling also sided with former newspaper magnate Conrad Black, setting aside a federal appeals court decision that had upheld Black's honest services fraud conviction. But as in Skilling's case, the justices left the ultimate resolution of the case to the appeals court.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on June 24, 2010 9:49 AM.

Blagojevich trial: Day 14 -- and recap was the previous entry in this blog.

Blagojevich's honest services charges could get tossed -- but trial will go on is the next entry in this blog.

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