Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [personal website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday went on trial [criminal complaint] for a second time on corruption charges, including one that he tried to sell President Barack Obama's vacant US Senate seat. Blagojevich tried to avoid the trial last month, but a federal judge declined to formally rule on his request to cancel the trial [JURIST reports], saying that the motion was neither serious, nor did it raise a legal question. Blagojevich's lawyers had submitted a motion [text] to cancel the ex-governor's retrial and sentence him only on the single charge on which he was originally convicted.
Blagojevich was found guilty [JURIST report] last year of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on 23 additional charges. His attorneys, who had worked without pay, argued that a retrial was an economic hardship and an unnecessary drain on taxpayer funds. Beyond suggesting that the request was made primarily to arouse public attention, the judge clarified the motion was improperly presented and, therefore, could not be ruled upon. Blagojevich's defense team was granted additional time to file a proper motion, even though the court predicts the issue will dissipate with time. If convicted of making false statements to the FBI, Blagojevich faces a maximum five-year prison sentence.