Rod Blagojevich to Testify Today

CNN reports former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will testify today.

Rod's brother and co-defendant, Rob Blagojevich, testified Monday.

In his testimony, he came off as the protective older brother, refusing to blame his sibling for any wrongdoing. The former governor watched with a look of admiration on his face....

...Confronted by his and his brother's recorded words, Robert Blagojevich pleaded ignorance on some issues and claimed his brother was misunderstood on others.


"Bottom line for me was never condition any fundraising request … on a governmental action, a contract, a favorable policy action," Blagojevich said he learned. "I was told never to tie the two, and I never did."

I think Robert Blagojevich is a straight arrow and will be surprised if he's convicted.

His cross-examination should end today, after which it's Rod's turn. How will he do? Will he charm the jury and talk his way out of it?

Blago also filed another motion for mistrial Friday. He alleges the judge is unfairly limiting his ability to play tapes for the jury. There were 5,500 calls taped, he asked to play 238, and the judge told him to whittle it down. He pared the list down to 38, and the judge said he could only play 12. From the motion, available on PACER:

The government, to use its own phrase at the hearing on July 15, 2010, “cherry-picked” certain portions of calls that it submitted to the jury. The government, using the exception to the hearsay rule for “co-conspirators” statements was able to play recordings of conversations between individuals who were not even on the witness stand at the time the calls were played. The government played 102 calls in its case-in-chief, and then painstakingly went through a vast number of these calls line-by-line asking witnesses what they “understood Blagojevich to be saying” in the calls.

These tapes are the government’s evidence. These tapes were recorded by the FBI, listened to by the U.S. Attorney, and tendered to the defense through discovery. These tapes are the evidence upon which the U.S. Attorney decided to arrest Rod Blagojevich to “stop a crime spree.” Blagojevich seeks only to present the government’s own tapes.

Defense counsel has advised the court that Rod Blagojevich will take the witness stand and testify in his own defense. Counsel argued for admission of the tapes based upon well-settled hearsay exceptions including “state of mind.” Blagojevich’s state of mind is the key issue in this case – his lack of criminal intent is corroborated by the tapes. His state of mind is evident on the tapes. Blagojevich objects to the denial of his request to play these tapes.

Blago also says the tapes are important for his defense of good faith reliance on advice of counsel:

Additionally, Blagojevich previously informed the court that he would raise the defense of reliance on advice of counsel. The tapes reveal conversation after conversation (after conversation, and so on. . . ) where Blagojevich is discussing his thought process as it relates to the senate seat appointment, the signing of the racetrack bill, the gridlock in Springfield, his desire to get a capital bill passed, among other acts which the government alleged to be crimes.

Throughout the tapes offered by the defense are conversations where Blagojevich provided facts to his lawyers, and sought advice. Tapes also demonstrate Blagojevich’s reliance on that advice, and on the advice of other advisors. Blagojevich objects the court’s denial of his request to play these tapes as well, as they too go to his state of mind.

Blago says the denial warrants a mistrial:

A defendant has the right to present his case – the facts that come out in the defense case should not be contingent on the government’s theory of the case. To prevent a defendant from putting on a case in the manner of his choice and which conforms with the Rules of Evidence is error of constitutional magnitude. The court’s rulings violate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution which provide an accused with the right to due process, a fair trial, confrontation, and effective assistance of counsel.

I think he's right. Why doesn't the judge let him play the tapes?

Blago also filed a Motion for Judgment of Acquittal and a 30 page brief in support of it. I haven't read it yet, but if you'd like, to, I've uploaded it here.

The Government Monday filed a motion seeking to keep the jurors' names private until a verdict has been reached. The court earlier ordered the names kept secret, the media objected, lost and appealed and the 7th Circuit sent it back to the judge to make additional findings. United States v. Blagojevich, 2010 WL 2649879 (July 2, 2010); 2010 WL 2778838 (July 12, 2010). The court has scheduled another hearing for July 23.

The Government argues the trial has become a circus outside the courtroom:

On a daily basis, the trial has been attended by journalists too numerous to fit inside the courtroom. Early each morning, citizens form a queue for the chance to obtain one of the limited number of seats inside the courtroom set aside for non-press spectators. An overflow courtroom has been provided so that additional members of the press and public may hear a live audio feed of the proceedings.

The defendants are escorted into the courthouse each day through barricades set up to hold back the crowds. See Exhibit 5. Images captured by newspaper and television photographers depict throngs of curiosity-seekers and well-wishers who have at times crowded around the barricades, posing for pictures with defendant Rod Blagojevich and requesting his autograph.

I'm not impressed by Government's arguments but suspect the judge will again rule in their favor.

Good luck to Rob and Rod. As I said earlier, I've never understood why they dragged Rob in as a defendant and it seems to me Rod's a big showboat, but the Government hasn't proven either his criminal intent, a completed horsetrade, or a substantial step in furtherance of an attempted horsetrade. What they did was put on a lot of Rod's former aides who sang for their supper to save their own hides, and even when trying to serve him up on a silver platter, fell short.

We'll see what the jury thinks soon.

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  • Pprosecutor stop the quid pro quo from happening (none / 0) (#2)
    by Saul on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 07:15:55 AM EST
    Why?  To me the special prosecutor was trying to protect someone up the chain. If that is the case then the prosecutor is just as wrong and who was he trying to protect.  Since nothing really happen how can the government prove Rod actually was offering a quid pro qua and that it was just hot air comming from Rod.