By Mike Robinson
Saturday, January 17, 2009
CHICAGO, Jan. 16 -- Three of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorneys withdrew Friday from representing him at his Senate impeachment trial, but his chief defense attorney said he still will defend him on federal criminal charges.
Defense attorney Edward M. Genson said in a telephone interview that the decision came "a few days ago," but he declined to say why or when he discussed it with Blagojevich (D).
Attorney Sam Adam and his son, Samuel E. Adam, told the Chicago Tribune that they did not have enough time to get ready for the Senate trial and did not 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 newspaper. Neither Adam immediately returned phone messages left by the Associated Press.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges that include allegations that he schemed to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.
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 there was no evidence the governor committed a crime and called the impeachment panels proceedings unfair and perhaps illegal.
House members voted 114 to 1 last Friday to impeach Blagojevich, who could be removed from office by the Senate after a trial set to begin Jan. 26.
Genson had been slated to defend him at his Senate trial.
"I was and I'm not," Genson said, declining to say how the decision was made. "We get along fine," he said of his relationship with the governor.
Genson said he didn't know whether Blagojevich was talking with other lawyers about representing him at the Senate trial.
Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero would not comment on Genson's decision or on who will represent the governor now.