Blagojevich prepping to take stand in retrial

May 19, 2011 8:15:15 PM PDT
Former governor Rod Blagojevich is preparing to take the stand in his defense at his second corruption trial, according to his defense team. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 counts. He maintains he is innocent.

Defense attorneys tell ABC7 that Blagojevich is already prepping for the stand. He is on the witness list, but the defense attorneys said the decision as to whether he will be called has not been definitely made. Those chances, defense attorney Lauren said, are 50/50. They also said Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was subpoenaed by the defense. Defense attorneys did not comment outright, but told Judge James Zagel their witness list will include "people of some prominence."

"We are going to show up and we will talk about what witnesses we'll put on, and we plan on putting on a defense and proving that Rod is innocent of the charges," said Lauren Kaeseberg, Blagojevich attorney.

While court was adjourned until Monday morning for jurors, on Friday lawyers will meet with Judge Zagel to discuss the defense's witness list. While that will not reveal if Blagojevich will actually take the stand, it may hint at their plan. Throughout the trial, defense attorneys have portrayed Blagojevich as an explosive blabbermouth with no serious follow through.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky said presenting their case will take about three days.

Last year, Blagojevich was found guilty of one count- lying to the FBI- and the jury was hung on 23 others. His defense did not call any witnesses in the first trial and he did not testify despite promising several times to do so. He has remained quiet on the subject this second time around.

Prosecution rests after 3 weeks

The prosecution rested its case against Blagojevich Thursday after just three weeks of witnesses. They presented a slimmed down case this time around, which has sped up this second trial.

During Thursday's testimony, Dr. Donald Feinstein, with the Academy for Urban School Leadership, discussed a $2-million state grant for the school that then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel helped him secure in 2005.

Bradley Tusk, a witness who followed Dr. Feinstein, testified for the prosecution that was his understanding that Blagojevich was withholding that money unless Emanuel would agree to hold a Los Angeles fundraiser for Blagojevich with Emanuel's brother, a high-powered Hollywood agent. Tusk was deputy governor to Blagojevich at that time.

Tusk was followed by Doug Scofield.

Blagojevich's attorneys argued on cross-examination that the grant process was simply delayed, and that there were budget concerns -- nothing more.

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