Harsh sentence for Rod Blagojevich: Did his fight reflexes cause him harm? (VIDEO)
Despite his apparent contrition in court, Rod Blagojevich wasted little time after sentencing before vowing 'to fight through adversity.' Legal experts suggest his boxer's instincts antagonized the judge.
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Legal experts say the severity of Blagojevich’s sentence – by comparison, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan received 6-1/2 years on corruption charges – is due in part to the continued adversarial approach he’s taken toward the legal system, and Judge Zagel in particular, since the start of the first of his two trials in 2010.Skip to next paragraph
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In the years that stretched between his arrest and sentencing this week, Blagojevich angrily defended himself through every means possible: a book, website, radio program, appearances on daytime, primetime and late-night television and even as a guest on Howard Stern. He positioned himself as a workingman’s populist who seemed to enjoy shaking hands with onlookers outside the courthouse and his home.
Late Wednesday afternoon, after learning he would spend 14 years behind bars, he was seen signing autographs outside his home. For Blagojevich, it appears that he is not yet down for the count.
“Rod always likes to say he’s an old boxer, but I see in Rod one of the habits of a bad boxer that every time you get hit you gotta hit back,” says Mr. Cotter.
“Better boxers realize that you hit when it is an advantage to hit, and when there’s not an advantage, you dance, you move, you use strategy. Rod has that bad habit of every time he got hit, he had to issue a press release or make a statement. It’s not a smart reflex…. It doesn’t seem to be really designed to persuade the judge, rather it appears to be designed for popular mass consumption.”
So what are Blagojevich’s options now?
According to Barry Pollack, a defense attorney in Washington who specializes in public corruption cases, Blagojevich has 14 days to file a notice of appeal, which sets in motion an appeals process that can ultimately make its way before a three-judge panel. The panel will ultimately hear oral arguments for and against his sentencing and then issue a written opinion.
While he is expected to report to prison Feb. 16, his defense can also ask for release from prison pending the appeal, the process of which can stretch over a year. Meaning that Blagojevich has the chance of remaining free well into next Christmas.
That, however, is not likely given the circumstances of this case.
“If I had to predict, I would say the judge will not allow him to stay out pending appeal,” Mr. Pollack says.
As it stands, Blagojevich faces serving at least 85 percent of his sentence, which means he may be released in January 2024, according to federal law.
At the same time the appeals process is set in motion, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will be making the decision on where Blagojevich will end up. The most likely choices are federal facilities in Oxford, Wis. and Terre Haute, Ind., where he will remain accessible to his nearby family.
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