SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The federal appeals court in Chicago said Monday it would not hear again from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, meaning the imprisoned Democrat is quickly running out of legal options nearly a year after his 14-year prison sentence was reinstated, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
The decision was not unexpected. And it set Blagojevich’s attorneys up to make one last pitch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Blagojevich, 60, is not expected to get out of prison until May 2024.
If his lawyers fail at the Supreme Court, Blagojevich’s only hope for an early release may be his pending commutation petition before President Donald Trump. The two men met when Trump was a reality TV show host on the set of “Celebrity Apprentice.”
It took a three-judge panel from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just three days this spring to affirm Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence. Blagojevich’s attorneys then sought an opportunity to argue before all active 7th Circuit judges, but they were denied in an order filed Monday.
Known as a petition for an “en banc” rehearing, such requests are typically only granted to deal with conflicting court opinions or questions of “exceptional importance.”
Two years ago, the same three-judge panel from the 7th Circuit overturned five of Blagojevich’s original 18 criminal convictions. That triggered a resentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge James Zagel last August, but the judge dashed any hope of an early release by handing Blagojevich the same sentence he had been handed in 2011.
Meanwhile, Blagojevich has already tried once to take his case to the Supreme Court. It refused to hear from him early last year. His lawyers are now likely to make another pitch.