Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Could Burris’ new statement protect him from perjury charge?

February 17, 2009

The ranking Republican on the Illinois House panel that moved to impeach former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today he does not want to reconvene the committee to accept Sen. Roland Burris’ changed testimony.

Doing so, Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), could give Burris an ironclad defense against perjury charges should they be brought against him by a Sangamon County prosecutor.

If House Democrats allow Burris to present his revised affidavit, “They’re quietly giving him the ability to rehabilitate himself to bar any prosecution under perjury,” Durkin said.

The provision of the perjury statute that could protect Burris reads this way:

“Where the contradictory statements are made in the same continuous trial, an admission by the offender in that same continuous trial of the falsity of a contradictory statement shall bar prosecution — under any provisions of this code.”

On Monday, state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) became the first high-ranking House Democrat to call for the House Special Investigative Committee to be reconvened and to demand that Burris reappear and explain the discrepancies in his testimony.

“This, to me, is a very clever way to pound their fists,” Durkin said. “The greatest defenders of Mr. Burris are all of a sudden angered and troubled about the new affidavit. But they’re also winking at Sen. Burris at the same time.”

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