Blagojevich Defense Attorney Threatened With Contempt, Closing Argument Delayed

Photo from Chicago Sun Times (Jean Lachat).

Bump and Update: Sam Adams, Jr. didn't get to deliver his closing today. He got threatened with contempt instead, because he intended to refer to the witnesses the government didn't call, like Tony Rezko, Stuart Levine, President Obama, Rahm Emmanuel and more. Now the closings are in doubt. What a wasted opportunity. Why didn't he just start so the jury would not be left with the Government's words when they went home tonight?

Original Post

Blagojevich Closing Arguments to Continue Tuesday

Rod and Patti Blagojevich brought their daughters to court to hear closing arguments today.

Did former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich just catch a break? Closing arguments are running long, so the Judge has said Rod's lawyer can give half his closing today and finish tomorrow. [More...]

That means the last words the jury hears before going home today are those of Team Blago, not the Government. That can be an advantage.

Tomorrow the Government will get its final bite of the apple with a rebuttal closing. Then the instructions will be read, diverting their attention from closings. If just one juror goes home tonight, impressed by Sam Adams, Jr. reasoning, with all night to let it solidify, by tomorrow, that juror's mind could be made up. The jury's verdict must be unanimous.

Shorter version of the Government's closing today: Blago was in dire financial straits and "The law doesn't require you to be a successful crook, it just requires you to be a crook." The crime didn't have to be completed, there just had to be a substantial step towards it. "The governor of the state of Illinois cannot exchange taking some state action for some personal benefit like money or a campaign contribution. You do -- that's a bribe."

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  • Display: Sort:
    Big break. Plus jury gets to see the kids. (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 04:09:21 PM EST

    Conflict between defense and Judge (none / 0) (#2)
    by Saul on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:07:12 PM EST
    The defense attorney wants to use certain items in his closing arguments but the Judge said he cannot use the closing argument he currently has.  

    My question is why is the Judge trying to control the closing arguments?  

    Is this kosher?

    Some background (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:14:58 PM EST

    Apparently, the judge is threatening to hold Adam, Jr in contempt if he tries to argue about the 35 witnesses.

    Zagel didn't raise his voice, but he was clearly irked, telling the lawyers he would send the jury home and bring them back tomorrow for Adam's argument. Adam might need the night to reconstitute his argument given his "profound misunderstanding" of Zagel's ruling last week on missing witnesses.

    "You cannot argue against the law," Zagel said. "I'm sure you will be able to figure out some way to argue that the government's case is insufficient."

    If Adam can't do it, Zagel said, the Blagojevich team could get another attorney to argue the case or could appeal.

    "If my ruling is as erroneous as you think it is, then you have other remedies," Zagel said.

    Defense lawyers really like to get people (none / 0) (#3)
    by nyrias on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:13:48 PM EST
    off .. whatever they do .. and any advantage is fair game, uh?

    The only issue here, to me, is whether this guy accepted a bride. Whether he has kids, or a good father, or a good husband .. is totally irrelevant.

    "Getting people off" is not (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Peter G on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:50:55 PM EST
    what defense lawyers do because they "like" it. "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."  This is what defense lawyers are obligated (and privileged) to try to do, as stated in the Sixth Amendment (you may have heard of it; it's part of the "Bill of Rights"), in order to keep government power in check and all Americans' rights secure.  "Whatever they do"? No, not exactly.  More like, "Whatever they are accused of having done."  Finally, "and any advantage is fair game, uh?" No, not at all.  There are rules of evidence, of procedure, and of ethics, all of which limit what defense counsel can do.  It's actually quite a fine system.  I suggest you study up on it a bit; you might learn something that would make you proud of your country and the principles on which it was founded.

    and what have any of these .. (none / 0) (#16)
    by nyrias on Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 12:42:58 PM EST
    to do with the discussion above?

    The defense lawyers are trumpeting kids showing up ... when they get to talk so the jury will have more time to think about what they say ...

    Does any of these have any relevant to "rules of evidence"? Is it ethical to get a defendant off, even if all the evidence strongly points to his guilt, by appealing to the jury's emotion using his KID????


    A bride?? (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:15:17 PM EST

    freudian slip? ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by nyrias on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:20:26 PM EST
    it is not like typo is rare or anything.

    Plus, i am sure a new bride will work for this guy much better than a bribe.

    But you get my point.


    Just joking (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:45:09 PM EST
    I thought it made the story more interesting.

    Blagojevich (none / 0) (#7)
    by Kathy J on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 05:37:54 PM EST
    This guy is guilty without a doubt and the jury will find him so regardless of who gets the last word.  There is no refuting the fact that he is a typically corrupt politician.  He is just one of the few who got caught.

    How about letting the jury (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 03:56:46 AM EST
    decide. This is a criminal defense blog and we don't proclaim people guilty before they have been found guilty.

    It would be one more than a few (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cream City on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 09:33:27 PM EST
    among Illinois governors lately, anyway.  Wouldn't it be easier there to just put a jail in the governor's mansion?

    I know Blagojovich (none / 0) (#11)
    by NealB on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:02:27 PM EST
    If he's accused of crossing Obama (which is what this seems to come down to and why he'll lose), he doesn't seem like such a bad guy to me.

    I'd cross Obama, too, if I could. I will, when I can. Obama's a politician betrayed so much of what he sold himself as he deserves to be crossed.

    Which actually has nothing to do with (none / 0) (#12)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 10:37:57 PM EST
    the charges at hand.

    Is there a federal jury instruction re a party's (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 11:07:37 PM EST
    failure to call material witnesses?

    yes, I just wrote a new post on it (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 03:57:28 AM EST
    with all the law.