Judge denies request to delay Blagojevich trial

April 14, 2011 3:16:23 PM PDT
A judge denied a request Thursday by Rod Blagojevich's lawyers to delay the start of his retrial on corruption charges.

Jury selection is set to begin on Wednesday.

Both sides went to court Thursday to make their cases for what can and cannot be submitted as evidence in the new trial.

Rod Blagojevich wants his accomplishments known by the next jury that will judge him, but prosecutors argue he is not on trial for good deeds and referencing them without specific reason should be out of bounds.

Judge James Zagel agreed Thursday, using the old example that a robber who sticks up 10 banks on 10 different days can't claim he is innocent because he didn't pull any hold-ups the other 355.

Still, the Blagojevich defense team believes it's being unfairly handcuffed, that when it tries to challenge things like the government's highlighting of Blagojevich spending on new suits, it gets smothered in objections.

Attorney Sheldon Sorosky said it feels like the government throws a punch and we can punch back.

But much of what the Blagojevich team can get in in trial two -- including tapes -- depends on whether they call any witnesses, and the key to all that is the defendant himself. Sorosky wouldn't say Thursday whether Blagojevich will testify.

"We don't know. We don't know. Opening statements have not been completely prepared yet," said Sorosky.

"I've been doing this a long time," said Prof. Richard Kling of the Chicago Kent College of Law. "I'm never going to tell you or the state's attorney or anybody whether the client's going to testify until it's time because I want that aura of suspense."

The decision on whether to call Blagojevich as a witness won't be made, Sorosky said, until after the prosecution rests its case. Short of that question, ABC7 asked Thursday if the defense is intent upon calling any witnesses -- they did not in the first trial. No answer on that yet.

Also Thursday, Judge Zagel denied the defense team access to a report of President Obama's interview with the FBI. Agents had conducted an interview with the then president-elect regarding Blagjevich's alleged sale of Obama's Senate seat. The judge said there was nothing in the report that could be used at trial.