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Blagojevich jury deliberations start Wednesday

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prosecutors told jurors Rod Blagojevich is not a bumbling, naive former governor who just talks too much, as his defense described in closing arguments.

During closing arguments, Blagojevich's own attorney, Sam Adam Jr., told jurors, "He's an insecure man" who has "absolutely horrible judgment on people." He portrayed Blagojevich as a big talker and nothing more. Adam said, "Nobody's going to say he's the sharpest knife in the drawer."

In the rebuttal that followed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar told jurors the contrary. "He is not stupid... he is very smart."

Schar said, "You don't sit around debating how you're going to get your money to decide whether you're going to sign a bill... Somehow he is the accidentally corrupt governor."

Schar finished his rebuttal around 3:15 p.m. and the Judge James Zagel then dismissed the jurors, telling them to report back Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. At that time, they will receive instructions and begin deliberating in the corruption trial. Jury deliberation could last several days.

Blagojevich and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, have pleaded not guilty to allegations of scheming to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama and plotting to pressure people into giving campaign donations in exchange for state business.

Defense delivers 'show' for jurors

Adam spoke in a whisper, a roar and everything in between while delivering the defense's closing arguments on Tuesday.

Adam, who is known for his courtroom theatrics, used his entire 2 ½ hours to present the defense's case. He played several secretly recorded FBI tapes while addressing the jurors in his closing. He says they heard "tape after tape of just talking," which, according to Adam, is just how Blagojevich is.

"You heard the tapes and you heard Rod on the tapes," he said. "You can infer what was in Rod's mind on the tapes. You can infer from those tapes whether he's trying to extort the president of the United States. 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 said Blagojevich is not a criminal and prosecutors did not prove their case. "No one is going to say that's the sharpest knife in the drawer."

He also addressed the "elephant in the room" because Blagojevich did not testify as promised.

"I thought he'd sit right up here," Adam said, shouting and pointing at the empty witness chair. "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," he told jurors.

Adam gestured at jurors and yelled, "They want you, you and you to convict him." Some jurors laughed, others seemed focused on his words.

"It's beginning to look more like a show," Judge Zagel admonished Adam at one point.

Judge denies request to reconsider motion

Earlier Tuesday, Adam asked for a judge to reconsider a request that would allow him to talk about witnesses who were not called by the government during the trial. That motion was denied by Judge James Zagel on Monday.

With a hint of frustration, Judge Zagel said the request "comes very late in the day."

Judge Zagel also told Adam Tuesday that if he defies the order, he should do it at the end of his close because Zagel will "sit him down." Zagel also said jail time was never in the picture for Adam, who on Monday said he would go to jail for his client.

Judge Zagel and Adam sparred Monday afternoon over Adam's request to mention the names of witnesses prosecutors named in opening arguments but did not call during the trial. Zagel ended court early Monday and denied Adam's request.

In response to the defense's argument on Tuesday that Judge Zagel has been hostile toward the defense, Zagel said, "The defense in this case is every bit of a power as the government."

The prosecution presented its closing arguments on Monday, followed by the defense representing Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich.

Both brothers have pleaded not guilty to corruption charges involving the alleged scheme to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama and pressuring people to make campaign contributions for state business.

Blagojevich brings family to court

The former governor arrived at the courthouse with his wife and daughter, Amy, 14, on Tuesday.

On Monday, Blagojevich's second daughter, Annie, 7, also attended court.

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