Claiming the Senate trial rules "preclude the governor from putting on any realistic defense," the defense team for impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich has suffered a shake-up just 10 days before his impeachment trial is set to begin.
Attorneys Sam Adam Jr. and Sam Adam Sr. compared the Senate impeachment trial to a "lynching," but Veteran Chicago defense attorney Ed Genson disassociated himself from any such talk.
Genson did say, however, that the rules of the impeachment trial, the first of its kind in Illinois history, "were extraordinarily unfair" and meant the governor would be convicted.
"It's a foregone conclusion," Genson said, adding that he decided "a few days ago" not to take part but since then has been directed by Blagojevich not to attend.
"I have been instructed not to participate in the impeachment trial," he said.
Genson will still defend Blagojevich in the criminal case against him.
In a statement, Adam and his son said that they won't "degrade" themselves or their client by participating the in trial.
"It’s a kangaroo court,” Adam said. “You can’t possibly get any fairness out of it. It’s completely un-American."
"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," the statement said.
Senate sources say they had considered this might happen and said they plan to proceed with the trial as if the governor had declared himself no guilty, no contest.
Lt. Gov. Pat used the announcement as another opportunity to request the governor to step down.
"I think for the good of Illinois, and the common good, Governor Blagojevich should step aside," Quinn said. "This is the time to do it."
Genson represented Blagojevich during the Illinois House Impeachment Committee proceedings. Both the committee and the full House voted to impeach the governor last week.
[Jan. 9: Blagojevich Impeached]
The Senate's trial is set to begin January 26. Newly selected Senate President John Cullerton said he hopes to complete the trial by Feb. 4.
Some speculate that Blagojevich may be thinking of resigning, but Genson said that's not true.
Former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins faced off against Genson in the George Ryan trial, and he said he can take only one thing away from Genson's announcement.
"Eddie's a criminal lawyer and I have a lot of respect for Eddie. And it would be a bigger story, for me, if it were the opposite, that he's no longer in the criminal case. But if he's staying in the criminal case, that means the governor is going to continue to fight," Collins said.
Blagojevich and his then-chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested Dec. 9 on federal corruption charges, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Blagojevich has maintained his innocence and has vowed to fight the charges.
Harris, meanwhile, has begun negotiations with federal investigators about cooperating against the governor and has provided some information to investigators.
He is the state's first governor to face an impeachment trial and the first public official since a circuit judge in 1833 was impeached but acquitted.