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Rep. Derrick Smith’s trial kicks off

Thursday, May 29, 2014

* Jury selection began in Chicago Democratic state Rep. Derrick Smith’s federal corruption trial yesterday. Opening statements could begin today

Smith, 50, is accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe from a day care center seeking a $50,000 state grant — though the facility turned out to be fictitious and part of an FBI sting… Smith has pleaded not guilty to bribery, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.[…]

Prosecutors plan to use Smith’s statements immediately after his March 13, 2012, arrest, which they say amount to a confession. Court filings describe him as distraught, cursing at himself and telling investigators he’d taken the bribe. […]

Smith even brought arresting FBI agents to his home, retrieved $2,500 in leftover bribe money — in $100 bills bound with paper clips — from the foot of his bed and handed it to the agents, prosecutors say.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


27 Comments
  1. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:01 am:

    Tell us again why Michael Madigan endorsed him in the primary and gave him $70,000, but still deserves to be Speaker and Chair?


  2. - Stones - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Kind of surprised this case is going to trial. With the evidence that has been reported it seems to be a slam dunk for the prosecution.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Federal Judges seem to not like to start trials, then have them stop with a plea.

    Something to watch during sentencing, if Rep. Smith pleas this out…


  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    –It was a campaign worker cooperating with investigators who suggested Smith could raise money by taking the bribe.–

    So the federales already had someone inside the Smith camp who got the ball rolling on soliciting the bribe from the phony daycare center.

    How does the FBI decide whom to target for a sting? Is there some kind of criteria? Or do they just go after the dumbest bunny in the meadow, for an easy pelt on the barn wall?

    By his actions and statements, Smith would seem to be overqualified in the dumb bunny category.

    Geez, didn’t the guy ever watch TV? “You have a right to remain silent…”


  5. - PublicServant - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:11 am:

    I’m sure he just thought it was a campaign donation, and had nothing to do with his pitch for a state grant for his beloved constituent.


  6. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:16 am:

    Endorsed and supported for re-election by Speaker Madigan.

    Ironically enough, it now appears that support may wind up costing the Speaker a vote during the home stretch of session. Had Smith resigned and been replaced, a reliable “yes” would be sitting in his place by now. No good deed goes unpunished, apparently. Darn shame.


  7. - VanillaMan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:33 am:

    You have to wonder about Michael J. Madigan regarding this guy. Somehow Mr. Speaker has continued to publically discuss Smith as a credible legislative asset after Smith had been thrown out of the General Assembly, and after losing the primary. It is a bit disorienting for Mr. Madigan to just as recently as last week mention this man as a supporter, that is, disorienting to those of us who could easily recognize that Mr. Speaker should not have associated himself with Mr. Smith.

    What is Mr. Madigan thinking - or not thinking regarding Mr. Smith? Derrick Smith doesn’t appear to be worth a second of Mr. Speaker’s time. Is Michael J. Madigan losing it?

    As for Derrick Smith, he isn’t a tremendous loss. The man was led towards committing a felony by a campaign worker who Mr. Smith should have never allowed himself to have been led by. Was Derrick Smith too preoccupied to have not thought through his actions, or not bright enough to do so? He was an easy catch for the feds. Brazen, is the word used, as though Derrick Smith felt completely invulnerable to any possible consequences resulting from the illegalities he could face.

    Mr. Madigan should feel a bit responsible for Derrick Smith’s GA short legislative career. Mr. Smith found the comfort of being a Madigan duckling and was led to believe that as a duckling he was somehow special. As the mama duck, Mr. Madigan failed to teach this little duckling that his political support and money cannot protect any ducklings believing they could be impervious to the law.

    So, instead of bringing up Mr. Smith last week as a political supporter of his, Mr. Michael J. Madigan should have avoided mentioning him at all. Doing so made Mr. Speaker look out of touch and foolish, as though he had completely forgotten this duckling’s trial.

    Mr. Madigan seems to be on a losing streak this year, in more ways than one.


  8. - Wensicia - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:37 am:

    Maybe he’ll go for the “I’m too stupid to convict” defense.


  9. - Lobo Y Olla - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    Rep. Smith is going to trial because Sam Adam Jr. told him to. If you recall, Jr. Has a pretty good track record on “slam dunk” cases. R. Kelly? Not guilty. Blago? Hung jury on almost every count. Sam is a showman and his opening and closing arguments are 90% of his trial strategy. This would be a very entertaining trial to observe.


  10. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    Smith is an example of all that is wrong with the political process in Chicago. He messed up on his previous government job, but his clout (Jesse White) covered for him and promoted him for the legislature.

    White has broken with him subsequently, but this individual should never have been entrusted with public office.


  11. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:46 am:

    You sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas…..


  12. - Stones - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 9:54 am:

    Lobo-

    No arguments here that Sam Adam Jr. is a fantastic defense attorney. That being said, sometimes you have the cards in your hand - other times not. He was a consultant to the defense in Drew Peterson and we know how that one turned out.


  13. - orzo - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:12 am:

    Sam Adam Jr is a talented criminal defense lawyer, but his style plays better in State Court, not federal. His representation of Blago resulted in one guilty verdict and 11-1 for guilty on the “hung” counts. Then he bailed on the retrial. Not a result to gloat about.


  14. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    Lobo- Blagojevich was convicted of a felony that merited jail time when Adam Jr. was his attorney.


  15. - LizPhairTax - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    Point of Clarification

    As much as I enjoy a Sam Adam thread, Derrick Smith us represented by Victor Henderson.


  16. - dupage dan - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    Illinois is an exciting state. How many other states can boast 2 voting cycles for their politicians? The election cycle and the jury cycle. We are truly blessed.


  17. - Bluefish - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    Rep. Smith is an “excused absence” today. Does that mean we’re paying him while he’s on trial?


  18. - Lobo Y Olla - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    Stones-
    You’re right about the Peterson case, however Rep. Smith has two lawyers for this one… Not Drew’s umpteen mediocre attorneys.

    LizPhairTax- (love the handle btw)

    Henderson was predominately a civil attorney, Sam a criminal one. They joined together to help each other out in their respective fields. Mr. Henderson is a great attorney, but Sam is in the driver’s seat.

    Dupage Dan-
    You’re right, Blago took a hit on one count, but the original question was “why is he going to trial?” Blago did get an additional benefit from Sam’s defense in that his brother was cut from the retrial. My belief is that was all Sam, not Rob’s attorney.

    Further prediction, Rep. Smith does not hit the stand. Rep. Smith lacks that “think on your feet ” requirement that is absolutely required to parry an AUSA cross examination. No way he hits. Most interesting to me is that one juror knows Sen. Biss. I would have exercised a preemptory on that juror.


  19. - low level - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    It’s amazing to me, Rich, how the Madigan haters can on any given thread turn it into another bashing opportunity. (The same goes for Mother Tribune, actually.).

    Then, either it’s too much power or not enough power or some mix of the two - I’m never really sure. So transparent.

    And if he is that bad, as OW says, beat him. Otherwise it’s all bs - although I doubt you could find someone else in that position who would act any differently given the circumstances (that law thing again! Darn!).


  20. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    @low level:

    Did you cheer for Eli Wallach in the “Magnificent Seven”???


  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    - Upon Further Review -,

    Having the respect that you shouldn’t complain about MJM if you can’t beat MJM.

    It’s not rooting. It’s understanding and respecting. Big difference.


  22. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 5:19 pm:

    Are you saying if someone is secure for electoral purposes that criticism is not allowed?


  23. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 5:23 pm:

    - URF - not at all.

    The difference is that giving respect, does not mean approval, nor does it free the subject from criticism.

    All good. Does that help?


  24. - low level - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 6:10 pm:

    UPR - criticize all you want, brother. It’s a free country and as long as Rich is fine with your post, go right ahead.

    I simply find it amusing. He lost in 1994, came back in 1996 - and hasn’t looked back. Why? Good instincts, detailed planning and some darn talented staff.

    It’s a bit like a Cub fan complaining they have not made it to the World Series since 1945, but rather than criticize the team or management, they criticize the rest of the National League. Or the umps. Or the stadium, or the bars or ….

    Get a better team.


  25. - low level - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 6:26 pm:

    He should have forced him to resign, should have forced the voters to pick someone else… Oh, but that would be big bad bully MJM again - but wait, in this case the heck with the law, Smith is guilty based on the charges filled. But he did have the guy impeached, but the voters re elected him to another term (darn 10th Rep Dist voters! )

    Oh, we really don’t know why he is bad / our criticisms are all over the board, we have no idea really except we don’t like the guy, we’re totally disorganized and clueless…

    Then we wonder why we can’t beat him.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 7:57 pm:

    ===Then we wonder why we can’t beat him.===

    Here endeth the Lesson.

    Well said, - low level -


  27. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, May 29, 14 @ 11:32 pm:

    we’re totally disorganized and clueless…

    Then we wonder why we can’t beat him.

    Because for the hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters who understand how MJM has looted from our government and state, none of us have a vote as we do not reside in his representative district that is loaded with payrollers. If he were a statewide candidate, he would have been a former elected official years ago.

    What are the voters supposed to do? Move to MJM’s district to vote him out?


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