* Our quote of the day goes to boxing trainer Pat LaCassa, even though it’s an old quote from bygone days. LaCassa coached Rod Blagojevich during his short-lived Golden Gloves career…
“[Blagojevich] wasn’t a very good boxer, but he liked to fight.” LaCassa said Blago lost his second and final Golden Gloves fight because he kept his gloves up to defend his face.
In other words, he loved to fight, but was afraid to take a punch to his pretty face. Some things never change.
* Blagojevich took a hard right to the chin yesterday…
What began with a bombastic news conference Tuesday — at which Rod Blagojevich summoned U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to show up in court and explain why his office opposed playing all the secret FBI recordings at trial — ended with a federal judge handing down a dose of reality, using boxing analogies.
“I will not allow the legal equivalent of a head butt,” said U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who made it crystal clear that he — and only he — will decide which secret FBI wiretaps will be played at Blagojevich’s trial.
“I will not have the time of these jurors needlessly consumed,” Zagel said of playing all 500 hours of recordings.
Zagel invited the defense to privately submit to him the recordings they would like to play at the June 3 trial so he can rule on what the jury can hear.
He also took a nasty jab to the nose…
Blagojevich can’t insist on playing just any tape, and Fitzgerald doesn’t get to decide either, the judge said. It’s like boxing — there are rules, he noted. The rules say you can’t shove, bite, kick or head-butt your opponent.
“Those rules are enforced by the referee, not by the boxers. I am that referee, no one else,” Zagel told lawyers in the case and Blagojevich, who stood directly in front of the bench, nodding slightly at times. “I will not permit the legal equivalent of head butts.” […]
The judge said the defense can generally air undercover tapes of its choosing at trial in two ways: to counter evidence introduced by the prosecution, and if Blagojevich testifies as he has pledged to do.
While the former governor is on the witness stand, tapes could be played that corroborate his defense. That’s allowed because Blagojevich could then be cross-examined, Zagel said. But the tapes must be relevant.
And the court decides what’s relevant. “Not the defendant, his lawyers, nor the prosecutors,” the judge said.
Kass’ observation was almost brilliant…
Zagel: “Stop with the press conferences and talk of fighting people, before I get medieval on your behind.”
Rod: “How’s that, my friend?”
Zagel: “You ain’t my friend, palooka.”
Rod: “What did you say?”
Zagel: “You heard me just fine, punchy.”
* The brother wasn’t spared, either…
Earlier, Zagel turned down a request from Blagojevich’s brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich, to be tried separately.
Robert Blagojevich’s lawyer, Michael E. Ettinger, had argued that the evidence against the former governor could “spill over” and bias jurors against his client.
* Blagojevich’s bombastic attorney defended his punch-drunk client…
Sam Adam, Senior is one of Blagojevich’s attorneys. He says he didn’t discourage his client from making that challenge.
ADAM: It may have been too personal. I don’t know. I can’t say. I think it was not. I think it was well deserved.
Here are a few of Blagojevich’s quotes from earlier this week…
- “In their proffer of lies, they are now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife.”
- “They are cowards and they are liars.”
- “The government is sneaking into court tomorrow to file a motion to keep all the tapes from being heard.”
- “There’s a smoking gun on those tapes.”
- “They’re covering up that big lie that foreseeably led to a chain of events that stole a governor from the people of Illinois and undid the will of the people.”
- “I’m here today to issue a challenge… I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don’t you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, explain to the whole world why you don’t want all those tapes that you made played in court? I’ll be in court tomorrow. I hope you’re man enough to be there too.
Not insulting, eh? Sheesh.
* Meanwhile, some reporters who covered yesterday’s events suspected that a small crowd of Blagojevich well-wishers may actually have been Astroturf…
Press in attendance openly mused whether the scene was staged.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, would surprise me about this guy.