CHICAGO (AP) " A federal judge refused Wednesday to postpone the June start of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial, brushing aside defense attorneys' claims that they won't have enough time to prepare.
U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel also dismissed defense attorneys' concerns that U.S. Supreme Court decisions expected by the end of June could unfairly complicate the trial.
Zagel said he saw no reason to delay the trial's June 3 start date.
If the date holds, voters will likely hear months of testimony about the former Democratic governor's alleged misdeeds as the party tries to retain his former seat and the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.
Prosecutors say Blagojevich schemed to sell or trade that Senate seat and used his power to illegally pressure political campaign donors.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other charges.
Prosecutors estimate the trial will last three to four months.
Defense attorneys had urged Zagel to postpone the start of the trial to Nov. 3 to give them time to wade through the sea of paperwork in the case and because the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the so-called honest-services fraud law, which is among the laws Blagojevich is accused of breaking.
Blagojevich and his businessman brother Robert are charged, among other things, with illegally denying the taxpayers their honest services. The Supreme Court is considering three cases that challenge the law, which critics say is too vague.
Defense attorneys argued that their opening statements would be ruined if they used them to explain the honest-services law only to have the Supreme Court wipe it off the books.
But Zagel said attorneys should not be talking about the law in their opening statements, and instead should outline for the jury what the evidence would show.
"The issue in this case is simply who did what, when and what was in their state of mind when they did it," Zagel said.
He said he would tell the jury about the law at the end of the trial.
After the hearing, Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky told reporters that the defense would do the "absolute best" they can, even though they didn't get the extension they had hoped for.
"Judge Zagel is right that the facts are the facts," Sorosky said. "That's certainly a fact of life."Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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