January 26th, 2009
03:09 PM ET

Blago CAN call witnesses, even if he complains he can’t

Editor’s Note: You can read more Lisa Bloom blogs on “In Session

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/26/blagojevich-prsr-1-23-getty.jpg caption="Gov. Rod Blagojevich"]

Lisa Bloom
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Over and over again, Governor Rod Blagojevich has said that the Illinois Senate impeachment hearing is unfair because he is not permitted to call witnesses.

This is the same guy who’s compared himself to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. so his credibility is strained. Nevertheless, I will strongly defend anyone’s due process rights, so I decided to look into this claim.

It is false. Illinois Senate impeachment rule 15 states: “Requests of subpoenas for witnesses, documents or other materials may be made by the Governor or his counsel in the form of a verified written motion to the Chief Justice . . . “ As far as I can tell, that did not happen.

Blagojevich says that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and the Senate have a “cooperation agreement” by which the Senate will not call certain witnesses who are needed for the criminal trial, such as White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett or Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.

First, under Rule 15, Blago could call witnesses on the many other articles of impeachment he faces that have nothing to do with these high profile witnesses. He hasn’t even tried.

Second, as a lawyer himself, Blagojevich should know that he could challenge any such agreement between the Senate and the prosecutor under Rule 15, as well as the state and federal constitutions, which give him the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses against him, and also entitle him to due process of the law, including the right to call witnesses.

He has not done that. Instead, he’s using the petulant child approach: “I’m going to take my marbles and go home!” That is a lousy legal approach, because as any first-year law student knows, Blago must make his motions under the hearing rules, even if denied, so that the record is preserved for later appeal. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it approach to enforcing legal rights. Not showing up is the worst possible legal strategy.

Had he made the proper motion and argued that the Senate is trampling his rights, he might have garnered the right to call any and all witnesses he chose. Instead, he complains to non-lawyers like the ladies of The View that he can’t call witnesses, hoping no one will catch him.

Blago, you’re busted. You’re misstating the law. I’d stick up for the due process rights of even the most despised amongst us, even you, accused of withholding money for a children’s hospital and trying to sell Obama’s senate seat. But don’t make up phony claims. As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Filed under: Lisa Bloom • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Miss Behavin

    I just love the way he threw Oprah into the mix during his talk show rounds this morning. She was talking to Gayle King on Sirius radio about his comments and found them to be quite amusing! Oprah said she could do the job; she simply didn't want it!

    January 26, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I often wonder if Blagojevich has any connection to reality at all. I just hope this trial will be over soon and we will have heard the last of this man. He sure hasn't done the political machine in Chicago any good – of course that could be a good thing depending on how you look at it.

    January 26, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  3. Braden

    Blagojevich is a piece of work! He never ceases to amaze me. Somebody needs to tell this guy to can it and go home. Haven't we all had just about enough of him?

    January 26, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  4. Stacy from NJ

    Thank you for clearing that up Lisa. My impression from various things I had heard was that he couldn't call whoever he wanted for witness and a unlimited number of witnesses. While both are partially right, your post clears it up.

    January 26, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Where is Blago's make up, funny red nose, and funny wig? It is obvious that this guy is a clown! I just hate knowing that the circus he works for is the US government!

    January 26, 2009 at 4:11 pm |