Gov Hires ‘Courtroom Bulldog’ as Ill. House Launches Impeachment
Posted Dec 16, 2008 6:03 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has hired well-known criminal defense lawyer Ed Genson to represent him.
The Associated Press calls Genson a “courtroom bulldog” while ABC7 describes him as “wily and pugnacious.” Genson’s clients have included former publisher Conrad Black, ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds and singer R. Kelly.
“Defendants in criminal cases don't hire Ed Genson to plea,” says ABC7. “They hire him to fight their case, and that would appear to be what the governor is intent upon doing.”
Genson, who uses a wheelchair because of a neurological condition that affects his hip, has wanted to be a lawyer since boyhood, when he read trial transcripts in the office of his father, a bail bondsman, the AP story says. He is a Northwestern law graduate.
Genson comes on board as the Illinois legislature took steps to begin an impeachment inquiry, Reuters reports. The Illinois House voted 113-0 to form a committee that will determine whether to bring impeachment charges.
Blagojevich may claim his pleas for benefits in exchange for an appointment to Obama’s Senate seat were all just talk, the New York Times reports. But the government will likely peg its case on the larger concept of theft of honest services, the same theory used in the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, according to the Times and ABC7. Such statutes require evidence that a public official sought something of value in exchange for an official act, and proof of a bribe payment is not required.
Blagojevich will likely draw on his fund to help pay for his defense, ABC7 says. But the amount in the fund, $3 million as of June 30, pales in comparison to possible legal costs. Ryan’s defense has been valued at some $20 million.
Winston & Strawn had been representing the governor, but it quit after he failed to pay some $500,000 in legal legal fees. He has already paid nearly $2 million to the law firm, the Chicago Tribune reports.