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CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will get a feisty, folksy lawyer in Ed Genson, a criminal defense attorney who has been pleading cases for Chicago’s high-profile defendants for several decades. Genson, who is a founding partner of the Chicago law firm Genson and Gillespie along with his partner Terry Gillespie, has won some cases — rhythm and blues singer R. Kelly was acquitted last summer — and lost some — former newspaper owner Conrad Black is currently serving time in a Florida federal prison. Still, most lawyers in the city say he is qualified to take on the Blagojevich case. “Eddie Genson is one of the most experienced, well known, hard-charging criminal defense lawyers in the city,” said Jeff Stone, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who leads McDermott, Will & Emery’s trial department. “If Gov. Blagojevich is looking for someone who’s going to give him a vigorous, aggressive defense, Ed would certainly be capable of doing that.” Genson met with Blagojevich, a Democrat, and the governor’s wife Patti over the weekend, following the governor’s arrest last week on fraud and bribery charges laid out in a Dec. 7 criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. Genson said he has been hired for the case, according to local news reports. He couldn’t be reached for further comment. Blagojevich, who is under pressure to step down from his post, was caught on federal wiretaps trying to wield his political influence for political and personal gain. Specifically, he sought campaign contributions, favors and jobs in exchange for appointing various people to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, was also charged in the criminal complaint and has stepped down from his post. Genson, whose office is adjacent to the federal courthouse building in downtown Chicago and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in that same building, was also involved in the trial of Republican Illinois Gov. George Ryan. Genson’s client in that federal investigation, Secretary of State Chief of Staff Scott Fawell, was prosecuted along with Ryan for taking bribes in exchange for truck driving licenses and for accepting gifts in exchange for favors. Fawell is now serving a six-year term in federal prison for 2003 convictions on racketeering, perjury and other charges. Prosecutors sought as much as 11 years prison time. In the month-long R. Kelly trial in June, Genson’s team, which also included Marc Martin, Sam Adam, Sr. and Sam Adam, Jr., was able to persuade a state court jury that the Grammy Award-winning singer didn’t engage in 14 counts of child pornography. “He’s an effective defense lawyer,” said former Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine, who is now a criminal defense lawyer at Meckler, Bulger, Tilson Marick & Pearson. “He has a folksy way about him that works with a lot of jurors and he certainly has a lot of time in the arena.” A key in representing Blagojevich will be in marshalling enough lawyers to handle the extensive evidence involved in the complex case, said some criminal defense lawyers. While Genson has often worked well with other lawyers, including longtime professional comrades Martin and the senior Adams, working with other attorneys, such as Canadian lawyer Edward Greenspan, may not have been as effective, they said. Genson teamed with Greenspan on the Black trial. Black was convicted on four counts, including three counts of mail fraud and one of obstruction of justice, and the judge in that case later sentenced the businessman to six-and-a-half years in prison.

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