Wiretaps to be included in Blagojevich appeal
CHICAGO — An appellate court in Chicago ruled on Tuesday that transcripts of FBI wiretaps not played at Rod Blagojevich's corruption trials would be part of the appellate record but would remain sealed, at least for now.
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling as it continued to mull its decision on the imprisoned former Illinois governor's 100-page appeal, which was filed in July and asks the three-judge appellate panel to toss his multiple convictions.
The 57-year-old Chicago Democrat is in a Colorado prison serving a 14-year sentence, including for seeking to exchange an appointment to President Obama's old Senate seat for campaign cash or a job.
The wiretaps in question are among those U.S. District Judge James Zagel barred the defense from playing to jurors. The appeal argues Blagojevich engaged in legal political horse-trading regarding the seat and that FBI recordings supported that contention.
The same order also confirmed the court would include the tapes not played as a part of the appellate record judges can go through. They were submitted late by defense attorneys after realizing they weren't in an initial batch of documents, raising questions about whether the panel would put them in the record.
Appellate courts typically unseal documents shortly after they are submitted along with an appeal. But prosecutors later asked that the transcripts not entered into evidence stay under seal, citing the privacy of some subjects on the wiretaps and other concerns.
Blagojevich's attorneys wanted them promptly opened, arguing transparency is “an important safeguard” against violations of a defendant's rights.
While it agreed to the government's request to keep the records sealed, the brief appellate order does say that if the court concurs the trial judge erred by not admitting them, they will then be unsealed.
One of Blagojevich's lawyers, Sheldon Sorosky, said the defense asked for the transcripts to be unsealed on principle. But he said the decision not to open them shouldn't affect the court's deliberations on the appeal itself.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Calif. oil slick expected to dissipate
- Clinton to testify before House committee on Benghazi in October
- House approves bill targeting VA staffers
- University of New Hampshire language guide panned
- Compromise keeps highway accounts funded
- Planned Parenthood requests expert study
- 911 dispatcher hung up on caller before wounded teen’s death in June
- Undocumented alien released, suspected in crime spree
- Cruz switches targets, takes exception with IRS practices
- Defense memo reveals plan to protect transgender troops
- Mich. high court strikes down mandatory fees for state employees in unions