Blago atty, judge spar over closing argument

July 26, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Judge James Zagel told attorney Sam Adam Junior he could not mention witnesses who did not testify in the corruption trial during his closing argument. The prosecution had named several witnesses in its opening statements, some of whom were not called. Adam said naming those people and talking about how they did not take the stand was pertinent to his close.

Judge Zagel denied Adam's request because he said either side could have called those witnesses.

"I can't follow your order," said Adam.

"You will follow that order. You don't follow that order you will be in contempt," said Judge Zagel.

"I'm willing to go to jail for this," said Adam.

Judge Zagel said Adam had a "profound misunderstanding of the legal rules" and dismissed the jurors until Tuesday morning to give Adam a chance to rework his closing argument. Judge Zagel said, "It may be possible to designate a different lawyer to carry out the close if you think my rulings are wrong you have other remedies."

Court will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Prosecution focuses on FBI tapes, witness testimony

On Monday, closing arguments were presented by the prosecution and the defense for Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich.

Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner went over testimony from witnesses and secretly recorded FBI wire taps that were entered into evidence in the trial with jurors. "On November 5, 2008… day after a historic election, defendant Blagojevich summed up the case, 'I've got this thing and it's f---king golden,'" Niewoehner said.

He called Blagojevich's alleged attempt to trade a U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama a "dirty scheme" and said it was the "culmination of years of dirty schemes."

The former governor and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, have pleaded not guilty in that alleged Senate scheme and another in which Blagojevich allegedly pressured people for campaign contributions.

"The law doesn't require you to be a successful crook," said Niewoehner. "You can be just a crook."

Niewoehner went over the testimony of prosecution witnesses. He told jurors, through the tape recordings, that they had heard Blagojevich try to shake down Obama, wanting his own appointment in exchange for placing an Obama recommendation in the Senate seat. He also said they heard Blagojevich trying to get donations for his Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund in exchange for signing state bills that involved a hospital and racetrack legislation.

Niewoehner also said the case against Blagojevich is "simple" and the "governor of Illinois cannot exchange taking some state action for some personal benefit like money or a campaign contribution...That is a bribe"

The prosecutor also said Blagojevich lied to the FBI. Niewoehner addressed the case against Blagojevich's brother, also. "You knew by the way he answered the questions. You heard him dancing and dodging. He couldn't get a straight English sentence out of his mouth."

Michael Ettinger, the defense attorney for Robert Blagojevich began closing arguments next. He wrapped up on Monday..

Earlier Monday, Count 13, a charge of wire fraud, was dropped against Robert Blagojevich. In that recorded conversation, Rod Blagojevich is heard saying there would be "tangible political support… some of it up front." His brother is apparently not involved in the conversation.

Closing arguments are expected to last for several hours. Judge James Zagel has said he may break up them up over two days.

Rod Blagojevich brought his two daughters, Annie and Amy, to court with him on Monday for the first time in the seven-week trial.

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