Posted tagged ‘Rod Blagojevich’

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Sent Packing

January 29, 2009

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office today without a single lawmaker rising in his defense, ending a nearly two-month crisis that erupted with his arrest on charges he tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

From the Associated Press:

Blagojevich becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.

After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him of abuse of power, automatically ousting the second-term Democrat. In a second, identical vote, lawmakers further barred Blagojevich from ever holding public office in the state again.

“He failed the test of character. He is beneath the dignity of the state of Illinois. He is no longer worthy to be our governor,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from suburban Chicago.

Blagojevich’s troubles are not over. Federal prosecutors are drawing up an indictment against him on corruption charges.

Outside his Chicago home Thursday night, Blagojevich vowed to “keep fighting to clear my name,” and added: “Give me a chance to show you that I haven’t let you down.”

“I love the people of Illinois today more than I ever have before,” he said.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, one of Blagojevich’s critics, was promptly sworn in as governor.

Blagojevich, 52, had boycotted the first three days of the impeachment trial, calling the proceedings a kangaroo court. But on Thursday, he went before the Senate to beg for his job, delivering a 47-minute plea that was, by turns, defiant, humble and sentimental.

He argued, again, that he did nothing wrong, and warned that his impeachment would set a “dangerous and chilling precedent.”

“You haven’t proved a crime, and you can’t because it didn’t happen,” Blagojevich (pronounced blah-GOY-uh-vich) told the lawmakers. “How can you throw a governor out of office with insufficient and incomplete evidence?”

The verdict brought to an end what one lawmaker branded “the freak show” in Illinois. Over the past few weeks, Blagojevich found himself isolated, with almost the entire political establishment lined up against him. The furor paralyzed state government and made Blagojevich and his helmet of lush, dark hair a punchline from coast to coast.

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Casey Anthony: Does Media Coverage Erase Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

January 25, 2009

Interesting article out of Canada today which discuss the belief that in the United States you are “innocent until proven guilty”. Examples of recent cases “tried in the media” are Casey Anthony, Rod Blagojevich and OJ Simpson.

What do you think? With the abundance of evidence against Casey, should she still be considered innocent until proven guilty? What is the media and blogospheres role in her trial? Thoughts?

From DigitalJournal.com:

With high profile cases, like that of Casey Anthony who is being held for trial on a charge of killing her two-year-old daughter in Florida, issues concerning presumption of innocence become part of the debate.

The press continues to bring out salient details on the Anthony case. The very idea of a mother killing her own child is such a cultural taboo that it stimulates curiosity. Some folks hearing what facts have been brought out in the media have already made up their minds that the mother, Casey Anthony, is guilty of killing her daughter, Caylee. Still the legal definitions and concerns about the case need focus at all times during the public assessment of any case.

O.J. Simpson, for example, was tried in the press repeatedly both before, during and after his high profile trial. Again that’s because of the unique nature of the crime for which he was being held responsible and his particular place as a famous person. That’s when the issues of presumption of innocence come up, just like in the case of Anthony, when there are high profile cases that pique public curiosity.

The legal definition on presumption of innocence is spelled out by the legal community as this:

The indictment or formal charge against any person is not evidence of guilt. Indeed, the person is presumed by the law to be innocent. The law does not require a person to prove his innocence or produce any evidence at all. The Government has the burden of proving a person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and if it fails to do so the person is (so far as the law is concerned) not guilty.

The establishment of presumption of innocence was underlined out in the courts with case law. This is what has been noted in some of the more liberal websites devoted to law and politics.

“It is better than 5, 10, 20, or 100 guilty men go free than for one innocent man to be put to death. This principle is embodied in the presumption of innocence. In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision in the case Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432; 15 S. Ct. 394, traced the presumption of innocence, past England, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, and, at least according to Greenleaf, to Deuteronomy.”

They go on to relate the key elements of the Coffin case as substantiating the presumption of innocence with a major court decision.

This statement looks clear enough on the surface, but there are divergent views about what presumption of innocence is and isn’t. One writer underlines the fact that presumption of innocence is not stated explicitly in the Constitution but is part of English common law and the Fourth and part of the Fifteenth Amendments. There it is said that a person is presumed by law to be innocent until proven guilty. The writer, Blaine Kinsey, maintains that this does not mean that there should be no public discourse. He states,

The presumption of innocence is not a mandate that is imposed on all social discourse. It is not logical to assert, as a statement of fact, that a person is innocent until he/she has been proven to be guilty because it is possible for an innocent person to be convicted of a crime and it is possible for a guilty person to be acquitted of a crime.”

Both the Rod Blagojevich and Casey Anthony cases have been used to discuss the presumption of innocence, which Kinsey declares can be part of public discourse and not violate the standards of innocence. He goes on to write “

A person should not be considered guilty in the court of public opinion just because he/she has been accused of, or indicted for, a crime, but it is permissible for people to form opinions based on the information that is available to the public. “

Kinsey admits to being a member of the ACLU and retired as a Social Security claims examiner, so he isn’t an attorney. He does, however, express an opinion that is often used to dialogue about criminal cases and reflects the point of view of some of those who do so. Using his notions, it would appear reasonable to discuss cases but not presume guilt, if one is part of the process of decision-making, in either criminal or civil cases.

One source reflects the importance of folks not making up their minds until all the facts are in, even though discussion of the case may be reasonable, if we take Kinsey as a standard for discussion. This source reminds us to remember the three Duke lacrosse team players who were indicated for rape during the spring of 2006 by Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong. Nancy Grace decided to make a firm statement about this on CNN proclaiming guilt of the young men before trial when she said, “I’m so glad they didn’t miss a lacrosse game over a little thing like gang rape.”

Illinois House Votes to Impeach Governor Blagojevich

January 9, 2009

It ended up being an overwhelming “Yes” vote this morning in Illinois.

The Illinois House has voted almost unanimously to impeach embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich. The final vote count was 14 yes, 1 no.

From the Associated Press:

The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly Friday to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, an unprecedented action that sets up a Senate trial on whether he should be thrown out for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Impeachment required just 60 votes. The final result was 114-1.

Legislators accused the second-term Democratic governor of letting down the people of Illinois by letting ego and ambition drive his decisions.

“It’s our duty to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that’s become Illinois government,” said Rep. Jack D. Franks, a Democrat.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges that include allegations he schemed to profit from his power to name Obama’s replacement in the Senate. The criminal complaint included an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit describing wiretaps that caught Blagojevich allegedly talking about what he could get for the seat, how to pressure people into making campaign contributions and more.

That arrest triggered impeachment hearings by a special House committee.

The committee on Thursday unanimously recommended impeachment based on the criminal charges but other allegations as well — that Blagojevich expanded a health care program without proper authority, that he circumvented hiring laws to give jobs to political allies, that he spent millions of dollars on foreign flu vaccine that he knew wasn’t needed and couldn’t be brought into the country.

“The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own,” the committee’s report said. “It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Blagojevich has denied the criminal charges. He criticized the House impeachment process as biased and said a Senate trial would produce a different result.

Blagojevich to Fill Obama’s Senate Seat With Roland Burris

December 30, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is expected to name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

From MSNBC:

The governor has scheduled a 3 p.m. ET news conference Tuesday, but his spokesman Lucio Guerrero declined to tell the Associated Press what the governor plans to discuss.

Blagojevich has been under pressure to step aside or resign since his arrest earlier this month on federal corruption charges. He’s accused of trying to sell Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has warned Blagojevich that Senate Democrats will not seat anyone the governor appoints. Lawmakers in Springfield are considering whether to proceed with plans to impeach him.

Rod Blagojevich Speaks Out

December 19, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said today that he will be vindicated of criminal corruption charges and has no intention of letting what he called a “political lynch mob” force him from his job.

From the Associated Press:

“I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong,” Blagojevich said, speaking for about three minutes in his first substantial public comments since his arrest last week on federal corruption charges.

The Democrat is accused, among other things, of plotting to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat in secretly recorded phone conversations.

“I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob,” Blagojevich said.

Still, one of the governor’s attorneys said Blagojevich will take his constituents into account as the case moves forward.

“He told me if it doesn’t work, if it is too hard if the people of Illinois suffer, he will step aside,” attorney Sam Adam, Jr., after the governor finished speaking.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Cooperated With Feds for Years

December 16, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr., who acknowledged being mentioned in a criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, has been sharing information about public corruption with federal investigators for years.

From the Associated Press:

Kenneth Edmonds, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., told The Associated Press that the congressman had spoken about Blagojevich and others.

Edmonds wouldn’t give details of those discussions Tuesday, but WLS-TV in Chicago reported unidentified sources as saying Jackson had told investigators Blagojevich wouldn’t appoint Jackson’s wife as state lottery director because the congressman wouldn’t donate $25,000 to the governor’s campaign fund.

Jackson has acknowledged being the “Senate Candidate 5” referenced in a federal complaint against Blagojevich that accuses the governor of trying to sell the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

The complaint quoted Blagojevich as saying an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he picked the candidate.

Jackson denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything Blagojevich on his behalf.

Amy Poehler Says Goodbye to Saturday Night Live

December 15, 2008

Amy Poehler appeared to hold back tears as she said goodbye for the final time as a regular on SNL this past Saturday evening. As always, Poehler handled the Weekend Update desk with Seth Meyers and provided laughs for all. She will be missed on this show.

From Entertainment Weekly:

Amy Poehler’s final episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by a game Hugh Laurie, was, as usual, a hit-and-miss evening, with many of the show’s best laughs coming from Poehler herself. Just when it looked like the show had missed a golden opportunity for political comedy with a tepid cold open about recently indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Poehler and fellow ‘Weekend Update’ co-host Seth Meyers brought the big time funny with a rendition of “Really!?! with Seth & Amy” all about the foul-mouthed, comically coiffed pol. (Poehler: “The hair? Really?! It looks like you’re wearing a toupee that’s also wearing a toupee!”) The bit was so funny, it was that much sadder to realize we’ll probably never see it again — or if we do with a new ‘Update’ co-host, it won’t quite be the same without Poehler’s puckish bite.

When Poehler dropped her trademark smirk to announce her departure from the show, she got all soft and genuine and grateful, and I kinda wanted to leap through the TV and give her a big ole hug for so many years of snarky giggles. That is until Fred Armisen, as visually impaired New York Gov. David Patterson, wandered into Poehler’s shot, and, like Poehler herself, I found myself overcome with snarky giggling. Of course, since SNL alums seem so happy to drop in on the show — like Maya Rudolph appearing last night for one final round of gum-smacking gossip on ‘Bronx Beat’ with Poehler — this most likely really isn’t the last time we’ll see Poehler grace Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.