Blago losing his touch

Blago losing his touch

Posted by JP on Mon, 12/22/2008 - 10:53
The Gov. Rod Blagojevich we all have grown accustomed to never ever missed an opportunity to use an official state action to his benefit or advancement. But following his arrest on federal conspiracy charges, pressure to quit and increased isolation, he’s missing opportunities that may become increasingly rare. Consider Friday. Blagojevich appeared for a couple minutes in Chicago to announce he’ll fight, fight, fight the charges until his last breath. He declared his innocence, quoted Rudyard Kipling, took no questions and left. A few yours later – 4:37 p.m. to be exact – his aides emailed to reporters a list of 22 people the governor had pardoned. The last name on that list is Marcus Lyons. Lyons was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a DuPage County rape 20 years ago. He fit the victim's description and the jury bought it. He spent nearly three years in prison on a six-year sentence. A couple years ago his attorney asked that genetic evidence from the crime undergo testing that wasn't available during investigation and trial. Turns out Lyons didn’t do it. Everyone was wrong. The charges that sent him to prison were dropped. The governor’s pardon was the final act to clear Lyons’ name and record. Keep in mind, this is a state with a notorious history of getting it wrong quite often in the worst of cases – death penalty cases. Time and again, when the state has been prepared to kill people, it turned out the state was wrong. State Rep. Art Turner, a Chicago Democrat and member of the House impeachment investigation committee, reminded everyone of this in his opening statements on day one of the impeachment proceedings. Now U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is not your average local prosecutor. And that’s a key distinction. But imagine the effect if Blagojevich has used his national spotlight on Friday to announce the pardon of Marcus Lyons while at the same time delivering a message to those who’d rush to judgment before his case has even gone to a preliminary hearing. Instead, Blagojevich’s aides wouldn’t even confirm on the record that the Marcus Lyons on the list was the Marcus Lyons wrongfully convicted in DuPage. In fact, they would not comment about any specific case. It’s a PR chance the governor and his aides aren’t likely to get again as this melodrama unfolds.
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