Judge to defense, 'exercise some control' of Blagojevich

June 1, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"You have to exercise some control with your witness," Judge Zagel told defense attorneys. Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges in this corruption retrial. He is accused of trying to sell or trade a U.S. Senate seat in exchange for his own personal gain.

At issue Wednesday- while testifying about his plans for the U.S. Senate seat appointment, Blagojevich keeps referring to portions of the recorded call transcripts that have been redacted, which is signaled by an asterisk.

"This is the second time he's done this," said a prosecutor.

"This defendant obviously has an agenda," Judge Zagel said. Judge Zagel called the "deliberate actions" Blagojevich made "entirely inappropriate."

"He is never going to refer to those asterisks again," said Judge Zagel, who plans to issue a jury instruction. Judge Zagel said, "I make a ruling, then the ruling is disregarded, then I have to say don't do it."

The defense argued they were trying to get to the truth.

Judge Zagel replied, "There is all kinds of truth that doesn't get admitted."

Earlier Wednesday, the judge and both parties went over what would and would not be allowed in court in connection to the U.S. Senate appointment to the seat left open by newly-elected President Barack Obama. Blagojevich told Judge James Zagel he wanted to testify that he thought it was legal to ask for an appointment or job of his own. Judge Zagel said talking about the legality of his actions was not allowed.

Judge Zagel said it wasn't relevant whether the former governor knew he was playing by the rules. He ruled Blagojevich could only say he had made the plan on "good faith."

When jurors were first seated Wednesday, Blagojevich denied trying to shakedown anyone in exchange for a U.S. Senate appointment.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein asked Blagojevich, "These discussions about the Senate seat, did you have them in good faith?"

"Yes," Blagojevich replied. But he then went on to refer to the redacted comments.

Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges, including accusations that he tried to sell or trade the U.S. Senate Seat left vacant by the president for his own personal gain. He maintains his innocence.

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