A federal judge on Monday denied Rod Blagojevich's quest to play up to 180 previously unaired recordings at his sentencing hearing next week in a strongly-worded order that rips the defense for the last-minute bid.
"The filing of this particular motion at this late date is simply wrongful," U.S. District Judge James Zagel wrote. "What this motion requests is my blind approval of the use of whatever excerpts it decides are relevant to "lack of ill intent" and admissible under the loosened standards of hearsay at sentencing. That request is
Zagel said Blagojevich's Thanksgiving Day filing requesting to play parts of 180 different tapes was inappropriate, given that the defense has had the information for so long.
"I have effectively been presented with a motion on which I cannot make an informed ruling," Zagel wrote. "I have no way of knowing or anything upon which to base a judgment except the assertion of one party that whatever it might be, it is critical."
However, Zagel did grant the defense request to be heard on a separate matter, involving what Blagojevich's lawyers call "new information" regarding government witness John Wyma. Zagel set a Friday hearing to discuss the matter.
Prosecutors earlier Monday urged that the request to play previously un-aired tapes at trial be denied in part because they say the ex-governor is trying to dispute an already resolved question: that he's guilty.
"To the extent the defendant intends to use the sentencing hearing to attempt to continue prove his innocence of the charges that the jury found him guilty, the defendant's use of the calls is inappropriate because (a) the calls do not support his innocence and (b) the issue of guilt has already been resolved," prosecutors wrote.