Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lead attorney said Friday that he plans to resign from the impeached governor's criminal case.
"I have practiced law for 44 years. I never require a client to do what I say, but I do require clients to listen to what I say," Genson told reporters. "I intend to withdraw as counsel in this case."
Genson is one of Chicago's best known lawyers whose clients include R&B star R. Kelly and Canadian-born press lord Conrad Black.
To be official, his resignation as Blagojevich's attorney must take place in court. When asked when he planned to do so, Genson smiled and left.
Watch Genson's remarks:
At his Friday afternoon press conference just a few hours before Genson's announcement, Blagojevich praised his soon-to-be-former attorney, mentioning him in the same sentence as venerable Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Blagojevich also lauded Genson as "nothing short of a modern-day version of Clarence Darrow" in an interview with CBS 2's Jay Levine.
Genson's announcement Friday comes one day after Blagojevich's defense team sent mixed signals over whether the governor would file a lawsuit to block his impeachment trial in the state Senate.
Attorney Samuel E Adam told The Associated Press on Thursday that a lawsuit was being prepared and could be filed with the Illinois Supreme Court within days, pending a final decision on whether to move forward.
Genson told the AP on Thursday afternoon that he was not being included in decisions regarding the impeachment and he did not know whether Blagojevich would file a lawsuit to block the trial.
"His action, what he's doing, isn't controlled by me," Genson said. "I'm not privy to it. I should be, but I'm not."
The Chicago Tribune later posted on its Web site a story in which Genson said no suit would be filed, but the attorney declined to comment further when reached by the AP on Thursday night.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said at a news conference after Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest that the governor and his former chief of staff, John Harris, had been on "a political corruption crime spree" and their actions would make "Lincoln roll over in his grave."
Federal prosecutors say Blagojevich plotted to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama's election. He is accused of using the financial powers of the governor's office to squeeze potential contributors for campaign money and pressuring the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial writers urging his impeachment.
He was impeached by the Illinois House and faces removal after a trial next week in the state Senate.