Lawyers suggest brother may be dropped but Patti could be targeted

 
 
Posted8/18/2010 12:01 AM

Legal experts diverged on whether Tuesday's one-count conviction of Rod Blagojevich is good or bad news for the disgraced former governor, his wife and brother.

Jurors found Blagojevich guilty of making false statements to the FBI but couldn't agree on the remaining 23 counts or on allegations against his brother, Robert.

 

"It's a huge surprise, anytime the federal government doesn't really get a conviction in this building," former prosecutor Terry Sullivan said, adding the false statements Blagojevich made to the FBI were "pretty milquetoast," and, therefore, defense lawyers could have a good chance of winning an appeal.

But DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said, "If I were (U.S. Attorney) Patrick Fitzgerald, I would play hardball and consider charging Patti Blagojevich.

"Clearly they (the defense) used her and the children as a vehicle to get sympathy," he added. "Their PR tour was designed and planned to put him in the best light possible. He's now a convicted felon. So, it won't work the second time around."

Defense attorney Terry Ekl, who represented Blagojevich chief-of-staff John Harris, said he was surprised Blagojevich wasn't found guilty on all counts. "What the defense did was really jury nullification. It was not about following the law," Ekl said. "They said, 'Well, it was just talk. He's broke.' But, that's what conspiracy is. Even if he just intended to get something, he's guilty. You probably had two or three jurors who didn't understand that even just talking is still a crime."

Regarding Robert Blagojevich, Sullivan said he wasn't convinced federal prosecutors would retry him. "That might be considered as piling on," he said.

Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer Christy Gutowski contributed to this report.