Ten days before the impeachment trial that could cost Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich his office, his team of defense lawyers said on Friday they have withdrawn from the proceedings, which two of the attorneys compared to a “lynching.”
Lead attorney Edward Genson disassociated himself from any lynching talk but did say the rules of the state Senate trial, the first of its kind in Illinois history, “were extraordinarily unfair” and assured that the governor would be convicted.
“It’s a foregone conclusion,” Genson said.
He said he decided “a few days ago” not to take part but since then has been directed by Blagojevich not to attend.
“I have been instructed not to participate in the impeachment trial,” he said.
He said he will still defend Blagojevich on federal charges of fraud and bribery.
Blagojevich was arrested on Dec. 9 and charged with planning to trade or sell the US Senate seat left vacant by president-elect Barack Obama’s election. He was also charged with illegally using his powers to squeeze campaign contributors for money and planning to pressure the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers who wanted him impeached.
Attorney Sam Adam and his son, Samuel E. Adam, told the Chicago Tribune they have not had enough time to get ready for the Senate trial and don’t have subpoena power to call their own witnesses.
“We cannot and will not degrade our client, ourselves, our oaths and our profession, as well as the office of the governor, by participating in a Potemkin-like lynching proceeding, thus making it appear that the governor is represented by competent counsel when in fact he is not,” they said in a statement to the Tribune.
It appeared that Blagojevich’s legal advisers were divided, though, with Genson saying that the strongly worded statement given to the Tribune was not from him.
“I am not in contact with them,” Genson said.
Both Adamses are longtime Genson friends who have served as co-counsels in some of his most spectacular trials.
Genson — a legendary Chicago defense attorney whose clients have included R&B star R. Kelly and media mogul Conrad Black — represented Blagojevich during impeachment hearings in the Illinois House. He argued that there was no evidence the governor committed a crime and called the impeachment panel’s proceedings unfair and perhaps illegal.