legal briefingA daily look at legal news and the business of law:

Rod Blagojevich Almost Goes Free

After two weeks of debate, the jury found ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI but couldn't agree on any of the 23 other charges. Prosecutor U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is more accustomed to winning, most famously in the Scooter Libby case.

One juror told The Wall Street Journal that Fitzgerald came as close as possible to bigger victory. The jurors deadlocked 11-1 on the charge of selling President Barack Obama's Senate seat and, without the hold-out, would have convicted on a handful of other counts, too. Moreover, the jury didn't deliver any "not guilty" verdicts.

For the one conviction, Blagojevich faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Not satisfied, prosecutors assert they'll retry Blagojevich. Meanwhile, Blagojevich will appeal his one conviction.

Barclays Sanctions Settlement Too Lenient?

Barclays (BCS) has agreed to pay $298 million to settle charges it violated economic sanctions by doing business with taboo countries such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Burma. But the judge overseeing the case seems unlikely to approve the pact. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called the agreement a "sweetheart deal" for Barclays in part because it included a deferred prosecution agreement.

However, two earlier settlements of similar charges with other banks included deferred prosecution agreements. According to The Wall Street Journal's report, one of the reasons that Barclays signed off on this deal is because it appears more lenient than the earlier deal with Lloyds Banking Group, which Barclays believed was important.

News Corp. Trying to Elect Republicans

Given Rupert Murdoch's reputation, it's not surprising that he favors Republican candidates. And it's no surprise that his News Corp. (NWS) gave in June $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, a group that helps GOP gubernatorial candidates win elections, as The New York Times reports. Still, it's unusual for a media outlet to be so overtly partisan with its donations. Then again, we're talking about Fox News.

Interestingly, his mega-donation was legal even before the landmark Citizens United decision made corporate political giving easier because the Republican Governors Association is a "527" group inherently allowed to receive such donations.

School That Spied on Students Won't Face Criminal Charges

Unable to prove intent, prosecutors have announced they won't bring criminal charges against the school district that spied on students using webcams in the computers the school district gave the students, reports the ABA Journal. However the school system is not off the hook. It faces expensive civil lawsuits that are much easier to prove.

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