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The [Thursday] Papers

"When the hour arrived at his corruption trial Wednesday, the former governor of Illinois chose not to speak." - The New York Times

Oh, but he did.

He spoke to jurors through the media, just as he has since the day he was arrested. He offered his defense from the comfort zone of the media bubble, where reporters' questions are easily evaded and one isn't tied to the witness stand until dismissed. (Frankly I was surprised he wasn't on Larry King last night.)

It was a remarkably consistent and familiar strategy. During his impeachment trial, Blagojevich repeatedly went on national television to complain - falsely - that he wasn't allowed a fair chance to speak in his defense. Then he went to Springfield and gave a speech in which no questions were allowed.

Oh, maybe he intended to testify all along. Maybe it really was terrible practice performance that spooked his attorneys.

But one thing's for sure: Rod knew all along that he could always renege on his promise to testify. Promises in politics are conditional. And conditions almost always change.

For The Ages
The best account of Blago's decision is this classic by the Sun-Times. Perfectly rendered.

Programming Note
I don't have as much time as I would like to this morning, so I'm going to come back tomorrow with fuller coverage of Blago - I've scrounged up some good stuff - as well as the latest shenanigans from City Hall and elsewhere. New offerings elsewhere on the site tomorrow as well; today we have Even More Postcards From Pitchfork as our review of the reviews and video highlights continues.

I do, however, have notes taken from last night's roundtable about Blago on Chicago Tonight. Worth a read.


Elizabeth Brackett: The law says you only have to take a step in furtherance of the conspiracy.

Comment: Exactly. A lot of nonsense is being propagated by pundits - and reporters - saying that it was all just talk. First, it wasn't just talk. Second, I refer you to what our very own David Rutter wrote two weeks ago in No. 3 here.


CT's set-up piece notes that Judge Zagel called Blago "desperate" and "out of touch," an individual who had lost contact with reality.


"Listen, we don't have an obligation to put on a defense!" Blago attorney Sam Adam Jr. whined. "You in the media just want to make a story here!"

Um, right. Nothing to see here.

On to the panel, featuring former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter, now a white-collar defense attorney; former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer; defense attorney Joseph "The Shark" Lopez; and Kent College law professor Richard Kling. Carol Marin moderated. Edited for clarity.

Marin: Did the defense outfox the prosecution?

Cotter: No. I think they saw the parade going by and they ran in front to pretend they were leading it . . . [Blago testifying] would be an unmitigated disaster, so they came up with this [explanation] . . . it's a scam.

Cramer: The government boxed him into a corner; he couldn't testify . . .

Lopez: The government hasn't proven a darned thing in this case . . . There was no case . . .

Kling: He was put into a box; there was no way possible he could have testified . . . when they were talking to the media, they were talking to jurors . . .

Lopez: I know that they were preparing Mr. Blagojevich . . . they were spending nights up on the 14th floor of the Monadnock Building getting him ready to testify . . . the tapes really don't say anything . . .


Marin: Should judge be saying that?

Cotter:: I think so . . . he wasn't talking to the jury . . .

Marin: But if jurors are turning on the TV . . . ?

Cramer:: He knows where that line is . . . I don't think it even came close to the line . . . I don't think there's any harm in that.


Marin: The brother testifies, the other brother doesn't. Does a jury look at that?

Lopez: The entire media and teh rest of the city has lost their faith in the jury system . . . I believe they haven't (looked at TV) . . . these jurors are not going to take that into consideration . . . because they're not supposed to . . .


Marin: This jury paid extraordinary attention, took a lot of notes . . . what is the statistic on the federal conviction rate in jury trials?

Cotter, Cramer, Kling: It's over 90 percent . . .

Marin: What's going to give this the possibility of acquittal?

Kling: The FBI lying count, that one I don't know how he escapes . . . Did he lie to the FBI? Five or six witnesses swore that he did . . . if the jury believes he lied to the FBI, they're going to believe the rest of the counts.

Lopez: None of these things ever occurred . . . This is politics, this is Illinois, this is the way things are done.

Rhodes: Tell that to Al Sanchez, Robert Sorich, George Ryan, Scott Fawell and everyone else who has been convicted using that defense. Find a new one, Joe.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Shark-proof!


Posted on July 22, 2010

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