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There was no holdout for "not guilty" in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It's always interesting to get a glimpse of what goes on in the jury deliberation room, and the jurors in Blago's trial are talking.
Instead of secret votes, they used the "fist to five" method:
Secret ballots don’t show where people truly are, Wilson said, so the jurors resorted to what they called the “fist to five” method. If a juror’s fist was closed, Blagojevich was not guilty. If the juror showed five fingers, he was guilty.
“And then you have everything in between,” Wilson explained. “That led us to see openly people’s opinions of where they were in the process.”
The jurors didn't think Blagojevich was credible. They thought he was playing to them. Some of them found him personable, but thought the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming. The downside for Blago taking the stand is that if the Judge thinks he lied during his testimony, he will bump up his sentencing guidelines by two levels. Blago is free on bond until sentencing.
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Closing arguments have ended in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The jury has been instructed and will begin deliberating in the morning.
Crux of the defense closing: Rod never made a dime and is "a motor-mouth who talks endlessly" thinking out loud:
"He talked over me, over the judge, over the prosecutor,” said Goldstein, reminding jurors that when Blagojevich was on the stand he would often ignore his own attorney’s objections to questions from a prosecutor and answer before Zagel could rule.
“He likes to talk,” Goldstein said. “That’s all you heard. (Prosecutors) want you to believe this talk is a crime. It’s not. He floated ideas and that’s all it is.”
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After five days of telling his story on direct examination, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is now undergoing cross-examination by prosecutors.
They began by asking him, "You are a convicted liar." He said "Yes."
More on his testimony here.
The cross-examination didn't begin until late this afternoon. Trial is now recessed until Monday. So Blagojevich gets the weekend to regroup. He better study hard.
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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich testified in his defense today. He was on the stand for five hours and most of the testimony was just telling his life story to date.
Blagojevich began a meandering testimony that had all the melodrama and filigree of a Lifetime movie. It began with his childhood and moved to his college years and beyond in a five-hour performance, one that was not finished by the time the court adjourned for the day. The intricacies were as crosshatched as the tie he wore.
He was self-deprecating, humorous and congenial. [More...]
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The defense called Rahm Emanuel today in the retrial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Emanuel was on the stand for 3 minutes.
In quick fashion, Sorosky asked Emanuel if anyone had ever asked him when he was congressman in 2006 to have his brother arrange a fundraiser for the governor in exchange for release of a $2 million grant to a school in Emanuel’s congressional district.
"No,” Emanuel said curtly. The mayor also said “no” when questioned if he had ever been asked to set up a nonprofit for Blagojevich to run in exchange for a appointing Obama friend Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. also testified as a defense witness today. [More...]
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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has lost his bid to delay his retrial on corruption charges. Jury selection will be begin next Wednesday.
The Judge today also denied Blagojevich's motion seeking notes from the FBI interview of President Barack Obama when he was President-elect, saying the notes contained no information that could be used to impeach witnesses.
Also at issue: How much evidence the government can introduce about Blago's spending -- particularly on suits.
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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has filed a motion to dismiss his criminal charges, set for trial in April.
His lawyers cite the recent budgetary freeze on payments to court-appointed counsel. They say they haven't been paid in 9 months, and are unable to retain experts to challenge the Government's evidence. The motion is here.
The financial hardship .... has created a vast inequity in this case between the government and the defense. The government continues to have every resource at its disposal. Yet, the defense is stymied in its ability to prepare for trial.
Blagojevich has the right to a fair trial and to present a defense, as well as the right to effective assistance of counsel. (U.S. Const. Amends V, VI). Blagojevich’s aforementioned rights cannot be sustained under the current economic situation.
Blagojevich is asking to be sentenced now on the single count he was convicted of at his first trial, making a false statement to the F.B.I. That charge carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. [More...]
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Remember the Pennsylvania juvenile court judges who were charged with taking $2.6 million in kickbacks from private juvenile jails to sentence kids to serve time, even for trivial offenses? Two judges pleaded guilty to the "Cash for Kids" scheme, with plea agreements calling for 87 months. The federal judge rejected the plea agreements and new Indictments with a slew of more charges were filed.
One of the two judges pleaded guilty again, but the other, Mark Ciavarella, went on trial yesterday, in federal court. Opening arguments and testimony began today. [More...]
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Dick DeGuerin, Tom DeLay's lawyer, is confident DeLay's conviction will be reversed on appeal. First there's the legal argument on the money laundering statute, which includes. [More..]
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Former House Speaker Tom DeLay was sentenced today to three years in state prison for his conviction on money laundering charges.
Senior Judge Pat Priest sentenced him to the three-year term on the conspiracy charge. He also sentenced him to five years in prison on the money laundering charge but allowed DeLay to accept 10 years of probation instead of more prison time.
The judge granted his request to be freed on bail after he is booked at the county jail. At sentencing, DeLay told the judge he was innocent and the charges were politically motivated.
"I can't be remorseful for something I don't think I did," DeLay said.
The appeal will take months, if not years.
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More bad news for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The grand jury has returned an 89 page racketeering Indictment charging Kwame, his father, Bernard Kilpatrick and others with "13 alleged fraudulent schemes in the awarding of contracts in the city's Department of Water and Sewerage." The Indictment is the result of a six year investigation into Kwame's actions while serving as a Michigan legislator and later as Mayor of Detroit.
He resigned as mayor in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in state court. He's now in prison for violating probation in that case and is awaiting trial in federal court on tax and fraud charges related to how he spent money from a nonprofit fund.
Lawyers for both Kwame and his father promise a vigorous defense. And the FBI says the investigation is ongoing. ""It's not going to be done until we say it's done."
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No happy Thanksgiving for Tom DeLay. The jury found him guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The penalty on one count is 2 to 20 and from 5 to 99 years on the other. He could also receive probation. Texas has jury sentencing, but DeLay previously opted for the judge to sentence him.
His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, says the verdict won't withstand appellate scrutiny:
Mr. DeGuerin said Mr. DeLay would try to convince an appeals court the money-laundering statute should never had been applied to the money swap — because the original donations were legal and also because the donations to the state candidates came out of a different account than the one in which the corporate donations were deposited. “It will never stand,” Mr. DeGuerin said.
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Update: The jury has now asked for DeLay's interviews with reporters. The judge has told the lawyers to be prepared to work late tonight.
After prosecutors played the tape of the Wallace interview during the trial, DeLay said it told his side of the story so well that he didn’t need to testify. In the Statesman interview, DeLay said, “I could have stopped it, but why would I?” He added that he considered the money swap a legal transaction that both political parties had done in the past.
The Statesman says it's back to what DeLay know and when did he know it. Have they rejected his defense that the money swap was legal? [More...]
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The jury in Tom DeLay's money laundering trial had a lot of questions for the judge today. The judge isn't happy. He thinks they are focusing on things outside the trial.
"I'm afraid you may be getting away from the decisions you must make," Priest told the jurors.
What kind of answer is that? Team DeLay views the questions as a good sign:
"They are zeroing in right on the weaknesses of the state's case," said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's lead attorney.
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Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is speaking out from prison. He regrets his guilty plea. His lawyers took advantage of his weakened state in getting him to sign the plea agreement. (Translation: He didn't get as much of a sentence reduction as he hoped for.)
[T]he former congressman now says that at the time he was physically weak from having dropped close to 100 pounds from cancer treatments and other maladies. He said he had not eaten for two weeks when his lawyers came to him with the proposed 33-page plea agreement.
He said he balked at first, but lawyers Mark Holscher and K. Lee Blalack told him if he challenged the charges it would cost him millions to fight the case, and he would risk spending the rest of his life in prison.
Now, he realizes his votes for tougher sentencing as a Congressman were misguided, and he plans to make up for it once he's released. For example, he now thinks the severe crack cocaine penalties were wrong: [More...]
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