— Blagojevich had engaged in legal, run-of-the-mill "political horse-trading" as he sought a Cabinet seat, an ambassadorship or some other high-paying job for himself in exchange for appointing someone to the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president.
— Trial Judge James Zagel wrongly added years to Blagojevich's sentence as a result of $1.5 million in campaign contributions that supporters of then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. allegedly offered if Blagojevich named Jackson to Obama's seat. The appeal says there's no proof such an offer was "accepted, negotiated or even entertained by Blagojevich."
— Zagel allowed one juror—referred to only as Juror No. 174—to remain on the panel during Blagojevich's second, decisive trial, even after he said about Blagojevich during jury selection that, "I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty."
— Zagel erred by not allowing Blagojevich to argue at his trial that, whether or not he broke the law, he acted in good faith and always thought his actions were legal.