Ex- gov. Blagojevich: 'I talk too much'

July 21, 2010 8:38:39 PM PDT
After telling the judge he would not take the stand, former governor Rod Blagojevich said prosecutors proved "I never took a corrupt dollar, not a corrupt dime, not a corrupt nickel, not a corrupt penny."Both sides rested their cases after the former governor chose not to testify in his defense on Wednesday morning. Closing arguments are expected as soon as Monday.

The defense rested without calling a single witness shortly after telling the judge that Blagojevich would not take the stand, even though the former governor has made several promises to testify since his arrest in 2008.

In court, Judge James Zagel addressed Blagojevich and said, "Your attorneys have told me you have decided not to testify."

"It is my decision under the advice of my attorneys," replied Blagojevich.

Addressing the media outside of court, Blagojevich took no questions and said his recorded conversations were brainstorming. He called some ideas "stupid" and said that, while he wanted to testify, he followed his senior lawyer's advice.

"The most compelling argument and the one that swayed me is that the government in their case proved my innocence. They proved I did nothing illegal and that there was nothing further for us to add, and that he believed it was prudent to rest the case. When you rest the case, that means you can't take the stand and testify," said Blagojevich.

Blago: Division among lawyers "no secret"

His attorneys -- the father and son team of Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. -- were at odds Tuesday on whether the former governor should be called to the stand. The judge gave them a night to sleep on it.

"I am not joking with you guys. I spent 150 hours, 200 hours going over tapes with him. My father and I literally sat out in a park for four days with him because nobody knew where we were," the Sam Adam Jr. said. "We did not want to get interrupted in our offices. He is prepared to testify. It came down to an argument between an old bull and a young one. And the old bull won. We think by putting him up there to answer anything makes it seem as if the government was right, that he had something to answer."

"I brought up my son since he was four years old to disagree with everything I say. It makes you a better lawyer and gives you a better mind," said Adam Sr. "He always had his own opinions on everything. This is no exception. The only thing we agreed on in life is that we both like 'The Honeymooners.'"

Blagojevich said he chose to listen to the counsel of the elder Adam and his 49 years of legal experience. Blagojevich said that the government has already proven his innocence, therefore, the defense felt it was time to rest.

"Burden of proof is on the government. They did not meet their burden of proof. I think the jury will say that," the elder Adam said.

Blagojevich said there was one main thing he learned from his attorneys during the trial.

"I talk too much," said Blagojevich, ending his portion of the press conference and walking away from the podium.

In opening statements, the younger Adam had said his client would take the stand.

"Did I get up in my opening statement and tell them he was going to testify? Yes, I did. Did I believe that at the time? Yes, I did. Have times changed? They certainly have," said the younger Adam. "We are not in the business of pleasing people. We are in the business of defending a client the best way we know how."

Prosecutors called a rebuttal witness and played two FBI recordings Wednesday in which a campaign office worker and the former governor's brother, Robert, discuss the possibility of the office being bugged. The prosecution then rested its case.

Outside court, Robert Blagojevich reiterated his brother's innocence.

"Do I think he's innocent? Of course I do," he said. "There is no bad blood between us."

Jurors released, Closing arguments expected Monday

Jurors were sent to the jury room for instructions around 10:30 a.m. and told to report back to court Monday, which is when closing arguments are expected. Judge Zagel told the jury they have all the evidence they are going to hear. He released the jurors and said they will need to report back on Monday for closing arguments, at which time the schedule of deliberations will be set.

Once court was adjourned, Judge James Zagel addressed a request from the defense to drop some charges. Zagel said he felt prosecutors have "a lot of talk about not a lot actually got done." He went on to say "It's pretty clear from the timing over what was said that you are dealing with a person who is becoming increasingly desperate over time...and lost contact with reality."

Referring to a tape played in court in which Rod Blagojevich referred to himself as a "heavy hitter," the judge said, "heavy hitter is a ridiculously inappropriate way to describe him." And when referring to his performance as a politician Judge Zagel said, "This was a guy who was batting 110 in class D ball."

The defense argued there was no conspiracy because there was no action. Judge Zagel replied that you can have a conspiracy entered into by fools and bumblers, and it's still a conspiracy.

Attorneys will meet again with Judge Zagel Thursday morning to conclude discussion on the motion for judgment of acquittal.

Also on Thursday, a hearing on whether the names of jurors should be released will be held.


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