Robert Blagojevich, the brother of former governor Rod Blagojevich, spoke to a crowded room of students and lawyers on Thursday about his experience of being on trial for corruption charges. Robert spoke about how the deck was stacked against him, with the large prosecution team against the limited resources of himself and his brother. This “David and Goliath” dynamic played out throughout the trial experience for Robert. Fortunately, the government dropped Robert from the case after the first mistrial, but the experience soured his opinion of the government and the criminal justice system.
Robert spoke about his role in the allegations against his brother, Rod. During the time of the infamous wiretaps, Robert worked as a fundraiser for his brother’s re-election campaign for governor. Certain groups did approach Robert to sell the Senate seat to a specific candidate, but Robert refused these requests, and the government has his refusals on tape. What frustrated Robert most about the whole ordeal was that the government knew he was innocent the entire time. Robert maintains that he was just an innocent bystander in the case, and the government just used him to get to their real target: Rod. Robert emphasized that the prosecution cherry-picked the hundreds of hours of tape to create the appearance of corruption, although there was never any intention of selling the open Senate seat to anyone.
The event created lively discussion afterward about the criminal justice system, particularly the harsh 14-year sentence that Rod Blagojevich received for his conviction. In the evening, Robert spoke to an advanced criminal procedure class about what a defendant expects from his relationship to his attorney. Lively discussion ensued.
DePaul Center for Public Interest Law sponsored the event, and Professor Len Cavise moderated the discussion.