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Jurors Hear Heated Closing Arguments in Blagojevich Case
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Closing arguments in the Blagojevich case heated up on Tuesday when the defense attorney, Sam Adam, Jr., delivered his closing argument to jurors in the case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert Blagojevich.
The former governor pleaded guilty to 24 counts in the case, one of which was attempting to sell or trade an appointment to the Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when elected President. His brother, Robert, was charged with involvement in his brother's fund-raising efforts.
Jurors sometimes laughed as they listened to Adam's theatrical argument.
"That man wasn't selling any seat," Blagojevich's attorney said to jurors, according to The Associated Press. "We heard tape after tape of just talking...If you put Joan and Melissa Rivers in a room you wouldn't hear that much talk. That's how he is."
Adam argued that the former Illinois governor was talkative and insecure but not a criminal. He also told jurors that he did not call Rod Blagojevich to the stand to testify because the government did not prove its case.
"I thought he'd sit right up here," Adam shouted, pointing at the empty witness chair, according to The AP. "I promised he'd testify. We were wrong. Blame me. I had no idea that in two and a half months of trial that they'd prove nothing." Rod Blagojevich announced last week that he would not testify.
Judge James Zagel, the federal judge hearing the Blagojevich case, warned Adam that he could not talk to jurors about the witnesses that the prosecution decided not to call, including Antoine "Tony" Rezko who allegedly gave money to the former governor's wife. Adam said emotionally that he would rather go to jail than follow that order.
The judge responded by saying he probably would not resort to handcuffs.
"That's the last thing I want to do," said Judge Zagel, according to The Wall Street Journal. "It's another thing entirely to sit a lawyer down during cross-examination."
On Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Niewoehner began his closing argument with a famous phrase from the seven-week trial.
"'I've got this thing and it's (expletive) golden,'" Niewoehner quoted Blagojevich as saying on an FBI-recorded phone call. "'I'm just not giving it up for (expletive) nothing.'"
Michael Ettinger, Robert Blagojevich's attorney, said that there was no evidence to convict his client of swapping campaign funds for anything else.
"Raising campaign funds is not illegal. It is not against the law," Ettinger said, according to The AP.