Blagojevich Rests Without Calling Witnesses

I think Rod Blagojevich made the right call in taking his lead counsel's advice and deciding not to testify in his own defense.

"Sam Adam Sr.'s most compelling argument and ultimately the one that swayed me was that the government in their case proved my innocence," he said. "They proved I did nothing illegal and that there was nothing further for us to add."

"In the tapes that the government played, they proved as I said all along that I did nothing illegal,” the former governor continued. “In fact they proved that I sought the advice of my lawyers and my advisers. They proved that I was on the phone talking to them, brainstorming about ideas. Yes, they proved some of those ideas were stupid, but they also proved some of the ideas were good."

I discussed the pros and cons as I saw them here. [More...]

Had he testified and been convicted, and the judge thought he lied, he would face an obstruction of justice enhancement under the sentencing guidelines.

I frequently say our jails are filled with people who thought if they could only tell their side of the story, police and prosecutors would see it their way. Sometimes that applies to jurors who get to evaluate your statements as well. Defense lawyers are reluctant to have their clients take the stand for good reason. It's the exception not the rule when they do, and there's usually a specific reason for it. I didn't see one here.

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    Sounds like the right call (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 03:29:13 PM EST
    It's one thing to shoot your mouth off on TV, another in a court of law. I'm not sure he even knows what the truth is at this point.

    Hope his non-sworn blatherings (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 03:48:57 PM EST
    don't show up in the probation report if he is convicted.

    Yeah, me too (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 03:56:36 PM EST
    That does not seem fair. I think he's more of an idiot than a criminal.

    Could the prior promise to testify (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 08:23:29 PM EST
    ... have been a clever trick?  I posed that question in a comment last night.  Anyone think so, or not so, with a reason why or why not?

    interesting tactic (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 02:54:03 AM EST
    Peter's other comment. He wondered if Team Blago:

    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

    I think the rebuttal and impeachment tactics would be good ones. Risky, and Blago has to take some risks at this point.

    If it was for show, I think it might be to set up an appeal issue on the judge's refusal to allow them to play the tapes. They could argue that he intended to take the stand and testify about tapes the Government chose not to play, and tht's why they told the jury he would testify, but when the court refused to allow him to play all but 12 tapes, it torpedoed his defense and there was no reason for him to testify and he was prejudiced by having promised that to the jury. In other words, they could blame the court for making them  not keep their promise to the jury. Weak, I know, but I bet if he's convicted we see this as a grounds in the appeal.

    It is prejudicial to promise something to the jury you don't deliver, so if he can make it the court's fault and something he didn't anticipate, he can construct an argument. One problem might be that the court told them before trial they weren't going to get to play all the tapes. on the other hand, they also can't have known the judge would rule they could only play 12 out of the 1,500 calls/bugged conversations.


    Thanks for more detail (none / 0) (#8)
    by Cream City on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 11:47:00 AM EST
    of strategizing this -- including the long view, often not so clear to nonlawyers, to see this trial as not necessarily the end but perhaps only a stage, plotting an appeal.

    Interesting piece in the New Yorker on Blago this week, btw.


    saw that (none / 0) (#9)
    by NYShooter on Thu Jul 22, 2010 at 11:56:13 AM EST
    haven't got around to reading it yet.

    New Yorker has a reputation for cuddling up to some pretty nasty people & then writing puff.


    I found that comment last night (none / 0) (#6)
    by Cream City on Wed Jul 21, 2010 at 11:17:56 PM EST
    fascinating.  But I'm not a lawyer, so I didn't reply.  I did appreciate the insight into strategy!