Rod Blagojevich May Not Testify After All

Lawyers for former Illiniois Governor Rod Blagojevich told the judge today they planned on resting without calling any witnesses, including Rod. The judge told them to think about it overnight.

The reason, according to Sam Adam, Jr,:

"The government hasn't proven anything and by getting up there and answering questions it gives them credence to what they've put on so far," Blagojevich's attorney Sam Adam Jr. told reporters.

Sam Adam, Sr. told the jury in opening Blago would testify. That's usually a problem when you don't keep your promise to the jury. But the prosecution can't mention a defendant's decision not to testify and the jury will be told not to either discuss or consider it. [More...]

Blago's legal team is reportedly divided on whether he should testify. Sam Adam, Sr. is quite the orator. He can probably explain to the jury why they chose not to put on a defense, because there's no need, since the prosecution didn't fulfill its burden. Still, it's always risky to tell a jury in opening that the defendant will testify, because of the likelihood strategy will change once the evidence comes in.

Also today, Blago's brother and co-defendant Rob finished his testimony. While some say his credibility was hurt by the playing of a secret tape, it doesn't sound so bad to me. Rob said after court:

I told the truth, and if the truth is good, I did well."

So, will Blago testify? I think it's risky for them to rest with no witnesses, and if they call any, they have to call Rod. If he takes the stand, the jurors get to hear the Government's evidence a second time when he gives his explanations for saying certain things, and maybe a third time when the Government cross-examines him about his explanations for his statements.

But if he doesn't testify, the only evidence in the case is that produced by the Government, and his lawyer's closing argument is just that: argument, not evidence.

It's a tough spot to be in. I think if the defense closing argument is going to be a technical one -- he said what he said but the government failed to prove his statements establish some element of the charged statutes -- there's no reason for him testify. But if he's mounting a factual defense, like he didn't mean what the Government said he meant in making the statments (rather than that legally, his statements didn't amount to a crime), then he should testify. Also, how does he establish his defense of good faith reliance upon advice of counsel if he doesn't testify what that advice was?

< Judge Orders Jurors to Disclose Prescription Drug History | Tuesday Night Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I wonder whether the defense (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Peter G on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 10:35:33 PM EST
    deliberately promised Blago would testify to sucker the prosecution into withholding some of what they have, so the prosecutor could pull it out later and use it on cross-x of the defendant, or on rebuttal.  Then, if the dft doesn't testify, that evidence never comes in.  It's a tricky tactic, and risks (as TL said in the post) the jury resenting that they were promised something that wasn't delivered, but it has sometimes been used, I believe, to benefit the defendant.

    Ga primary was today. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:04:49 PM EST
    I guess results will start rolling in soon.

    Wrong (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:15:54 PM EST
    thread. Sorry. I meant to post this in the open thread.

    He should not have been indicted... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yes2Truth on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:59:47 PM EST

    not even for failure to render honest services.

    The important questions concern who wanted his career and reputation destroyed, why, and how were his hidden enemies able to engineer a fall so hard, so fast that most Democrats ignored his plight.

    Shameful episode, if you ask me.  So go ahead.  Ask.

    long shot, but (none / 0) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 10:02:37 PM EST
    If he testifies

    I would f*ck with the jury's heads. I would throw out dozens of examples of what people say, and how they say them, in private, behind the scenes moments, in the rough and tumble world of big-time politics. You know, everybody's macho-man. Even use Obama as an example, and the wicked & vicious way he attacked Hillary. Look them in the eyes, and softly ask, do you reeealy believe Bill and Hillary Clinton were racists?

    Also, as you brought to our attention, Blago really did do many compassionate and humane things while in office. Then juxtapose a couple of statements he made that were so over the top that no one could possibly believe they were meant to be taken seriously. It's just how the "Big Boys" in Chicago politics "let off a little steam.

    If Rod has good coaching, and doesn't get too phony with the big doe-eyes acting, he may just pull it off.

    Let's face it, he's a very youthful looking young man/boy who, "while fighting the entrenched, evil bureaucracy, trying to open that new cancer treatment center for the poorest & weakest among us, gets so frustrated with how slowly the apparatchiks move (while grandma lays moaning in pain, waiting for a bed) and you know it's not right, but everyone has to unload their frustrations somehow, and so, Roddy sometimes went too far in yelling out those things we heard. But, if he got grandma that bed, even for a few final days, he'd do it all over again."

    In sales, we know that we buy from salespeople we like; in trials, we spare defendants we like.Tricky, but it could be done; just ask Jerry Spence.