CHICAGO, July 16 (UPI) -- In an appeal, lawyers for disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich argued the trial judge's evidentiary rulings favored prosecutors, among other things.
The appeal of Blagojevich's conviction and sentence, filed late Monday just before the deadline, raised eight instances in which U.S. District Judge James Zagel's rulings prevented Blagojevich's attorneys from offering evidence or otherwise deprived Blagojevich of a fair trial.
Among the issues raised about Zagel's judgment was whether the jury was improperly instructed about the law concerning fraud, extortion and bribery as they relate to "political deal-making and solicitation of campaign contributions."
Also, the appeal questioned "whether the sentencing court abused its discretion by enhancing Blagojevich's guideline offense level based on vague and speculative evidence of an illegal offer to raise campaign funds, which was never accepted or even entertained."
Blagojevich, who was impeached in 2009, was convicted of 18 corruption-related charges -- including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat of President Barack Obama -- over the course of two trials in 2011 and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He is serving his sentence in a facility in Colorado.
Federal prosecutors have until Aug. 14 to respond, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The appeal also alleged Zagel promised Blagojevich's defense would be able to play certain undercover recordings for the jurors to hear only if Blagojevich testified. Even though the former governor testified, Zagel denied all but a few of the 33 recordings the defense wanted to play even though prosecutors were allowed to play 70 recordings, the appeal said.
"While critical evidence for the defense was excluded, the court allowed the government to introduce almost any evidence no matter how irrelevant to paint the defendant in a negative light," Blagojevich's lawyers wrote in the appeal.