Thursday, June 24, 2010

Honest Services and the Blagojevich Trial

Cross-posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

In a case brought by former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, the US Supreme Courttoday limited the scope of the so-called "Honest Services" law, finding that the law should apply only in cases of bribery and kickbacks and is not suited for the case against Skilling.

Here in Illinois, most will ask how the ruling may affect the case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. We note that the indictment against the ex-governor was already revised to minimize its reliance on the Honest Services law. Even if the Honest Services law had been wiped out entirely, most of the charges against the ex-governor would survive.

Testimony in the trial to date certainly makes it appear that Rod Blagojevich saw public office as a tool for forcing payments to benefit himself. Whether the subject was the issuance of state grants, the signing of legislation, or even the filling of the US Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich approached his public duties with both eyes focused on what he could get for himself -- a job, a campaign contribution, a personal benefit.

We hope the trial will continue, and that justice will be done. The people of Illinois have endured an impeachment and removal from office; we have seen our state's reputation dragged through the mud. Politicians, like everyone else should be held accountable for their criminal actions. The trial must proceed. Justice is served by having the trial continue.

The ruling is available here.


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