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Blagojevich can’t go to Costa Rica *** Public defender? ***

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 - Posted by Rich Miller

*** UPDATE 1 *** Tribune

A federal judge has denied permission to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to travel to Costa Rica to participate in a reality TV show.

No surprise there.

*** UPDATE 2 *** CBS2

Judge James B. Zagel also said in court that Blagojevich is broke, and public funds will have to be used for his criminal defense.

The judge ruled Blagojevich to be a flight risk and also tried to warn the former governor that he wasn’t facing up to reality

The judge also said Blagojevich has not done his homework, and has not come to full understanding of what he faces.

Nothing new there.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Yep. It was a media circus. From Natasha Korecki’s Twitter page

blago emerges from dunkin donuts. giant grin on face. pace bus almost runs over media

*** UPDATE 4 *** Sun-Times

“I don’t think this defendant in all honesty … fully understands the position he finds himself in,” said U.S. District Judge James Zagel.


“It’s just another day,” Blagojevich said after the hearing.

[ *** End of Updates *** ]

* The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism publishes a weekly study of various aspects of news coverage, including leading newsmakers. Here is an item from this week’s report

From the narrative…

The battle for fifth-leading newsmaker (1%) was a tie between three very different types of celebrities. They included retiring pro football announcer John Madden; Melissa Huckaby, the woman charged in the murder of eight-year old California girl Sandra Cantu; and indicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who reportedly plans to ask a judge to allow him to travel to Costa Rica in order to be a contestant on the TV show, “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”

With Blagojevich, reality is even stranger than reality television.

Tell me about it.

Blagojevich’s rating may go up this week, depending on the judge’s decision today. As you probably already know, Blagojevich has a court hearing today

Tuesday’s hearing in Chicago comes one week after the ousted former governor said he wants permission to go to Costa Rica to take part in a reality TV show set in the jungle.

A more pressing matter is how much of his campaign fund U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel will let him use to pay his lawyers.

Apparently, they’re having yet another media circus at the federal building. More later.


  1. - Bill - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 11:45 am:

    Man! Look at all the flashing ads. Sombody’s been making rain.

  2. - Macbeth - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 11:52 am:

    Well, hopefully, this will give Rod a greater understanding of the situation he’s facing.

    But I’m interested to hear what folks think about taxpayers footing the bill. I suspect the fallout from this might force Blagojevich to come to a greater understanding of what it is he’s about to face.


  3. - WOW - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 11:58 am:

    We already paid this guy for 6 years for not doing his job and ripping us off and now we are going to have to pay to defend him for ripping us off!!!!

    Great, the electorate (and tax payers) that keeps giving!

  4. - Tim - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 11:59 am:

    I guess no one has found Blago’s shoeboxes of cash yet. Did they check the freezer?

  5. - Scooby - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:00 pm:

    Now that he’s facing the prospect of a public defender it’s a good thing this isn’t a capital case since he line item reduced $400,000 out of the line itme for the block grant to the Cook County Public Defender for Capital Lit cases last year, especially since the Defener’s office is currently shopping the GA for a supplemental bill this spring. Could be a little awkward.

  6. - Bill - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:01 pm:

    ==pace bus almost runs over media==
    They belong under the bus.

  7. - Northside Bunker - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    To bad so sad.
    Rod will never understand.

  8. - DuPage Moderate - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:04 pm:

    That really sucks. I was looking forward to seeing Blago take on Speidi.

  9. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:12 pm:

    I feel a VM “special” coming up, as soon as he can rhyme a famous tune with “Costa Rica”.

  10. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:12 pm:

    He’s passed the bar, he should represent himself and save the taxpayers some tax money. After all, the man of the people is all about helping save us money!

  11. - Tom Joad - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:29 pm:

    Rich: I thought that Rod was going to ask that he be allowed to use his campaign funds to pay his lawyers. Why else would the big name lawyers who have come and gone have gotten involved in the first place?
    Did the judge freeze his campaign fund?

  12. - Able One - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:38 pm:

    Who’s paying for that Black SUV that keeps chauffeuring Rod around.
    Does he own the vehicle? Is it a state vehicle?

  13. - JLP - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:43 pm:

    Public funds used to defend this vermin? What about his campaign warchest, isn’t there anything left there? How about some liens on his houses and other property that he and “potty mouth” Patty have “acquired” over the past decade?

  14. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:48 pm:

    I believe WGN at noon said that IF Blago is allowed to use his campaign funds for attorney fees, the judge said those hourly rates for attorneys would be at the public defender hourly rate. $2 million in campaign funds isn’t going to go very far to pay legal fees. He’s probably racked up twice that already before Day 1 of the trial. A lien on his house and his DC apartment would be very appropriate. Also look into a Swiss bank account. I simply won’t believe this guy is broke.

  15. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:49 pm:

    ===Is it a state vehicle? ===

    Don’t be silly.

  16. - paddyrollingstone - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 12:53 pm:

    If its true that Judge Zagel stated that attorneys billing the campaign fund have to do so at the federal defender hourly rate, then they bill at $110 per hour.

  17. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 1:03 pm:

    Perhpas they could cut some sort of deal where he has to do stuff in a forest preserve in cook county instead of joining the rest of the gang in Costa Rica.

  18. - Levois - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 1:09 pm:

    So he still doesn’t get it?

  19. - Belle - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    Rod will be in prison and still won’t get it. Maybe the hair forms some kind of barrier….

  20. - Third Generation Chicago Native - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 1:46 pm:

    Maybe Patti can go in his place? Rod can stay home and take care of the girls, since Patti is out of work right now anyhow.

  21. - If It Walks Like a Duck... - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 1:47 pm:

    No mas, Senior Blagojevich!

  22. - Concerned Observer - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 2:03 pm:

    little E: $2M/$110 per hour = about 18,181 billable hours.

    That’s 2272 eight-hour days…enough to pay 43 attorneys for a full year. Assuming he won’t have that many…$2M would probably get him through the first trial, even with exorbitant billing.

  23. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 2:10 pm:

    If exguv reps himself, he’ll first incorporate himself into a lawfirm so he can contract with it (himself) and bill the Defense Fund. Zagel way ahead of him, but at least he’ll have a “job”.

  24. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 2:25 pm:

    ¡Costa Rica! (Guantanamera) - Joseíto Fernández enhanced by VanillaMan

    Yo soy un hombre sincero
    De donde crece la corrupción
    Y antes de morirme quiero
    Para prevenir mi deportación
    ¡Costa Rica!, ¡NO!, ¡Costa Rica!

    Mi color predilecto es dólar verde
    Y los ojos carmín encendido
    Mi corazón es de un ciervo herido
    Que busca en el monte amparo
    ¡Costa Rica!, ¡NO!, ¡Costa Rica!

    Cultivo una mentira piadosa
    Cada año de elección
    Para el Democrats sincero
    Quién me da su mano selección
    Costa Rica!, que va, Costa Rica!

    Y para el Juel cruel que me arranca
    El corazon con que vivo
    Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
    Cultivo una mentira piadosa
    ¡Costa Rica!, ¡NO!, ¡Costa Rica!

    Con los trabajadores de Illinois
    Forzado a compartir mi destino
    El malvado que me acusó
    Levantará sus impuestos alto
    ¡Costa Rica!, ¡NO!, ¡Costa Rica!

  25. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 2:36 pm:

    ==”I don’t think this defendant in all honesty … fully understands the position he finds himself in.”==

    That’s a very strong and revealing statement by Zagel, a sharp and sober man. To me, that amounts to a federal judge saying you’re nuts.

    The sociopath theory, I believe, was first raised by Steve Brown, a very savvy observer of the human condition. I think Zagel just raised it again.

    By the way, what’s a Pace bus doing in the Loop? Aren’t they all supposed to be empty, running back and forth between Lisle and Naperville?

  26. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    I wonder - will RodB make one of his pithy comments once convicted/sentenced/incarcerated? “Basically, it is an up day” just won’t have the same ring. I am conflicted about the campaign cash use. I don’t want him to have access to it but I would rather not be paying for it either. I like what the Judge did. I wonder who will be willing to take on such a case for $110.00 per hour. I don’t think Big Jim Thompson will go for that. Nor will other former Assist US attorneys or other big players. It wouldn’t surprise me if RodB tried to hire himself as the attorney and get his mitts on the case.

    Thankfully, he won’t be parachuting into Costa Rica. That would be too much. Great bit VM! My spanish is non-existent - howsabout a translation?

  27. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:05 pm:

    $110 per hour

    I am rather certain that even mediocre lawyers charge more than that for this sort of work.

  28. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:10 pm:

    Pat, you’re right. Does anyone else get the feeling that cash-strapped Rod, with his law degree from Pepperdine, is going to petition to represent himself so he can bill the feds for a couple of years?

  29. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:11 pm:

    Concerned Observer
    $2M/$110 per hour = about 18,181 billable hours (agreed).

    That’s 2272 eight-hour days…enough to pay 43 attorneys for a full year. Assuming he won’t have that many…$2M would probably get him through the first trial, even with exorbitant billing (disagree).

    Most attorneys on a high profile case will try their best to bill at least 10 hours daily. Let’s say there will be at least 5 attorneys working on the case = 250 billable hours weekly @$110/hr = $27,500/week. Let’s say there are 6 clerical/paralegals working 8 hour days on this at $55/hour on an 8 hour work week (240 hours) = $2,640/week for a total of $13,200/week for just ordinary legal expenses. Now let’s factor in copying expenses of up to $.25/page, specialists deciphering the tapes at $110/hr., expert witnesses at $500-$100/hr (a fee the government cannot control), their travel to and from and expenses while in Chicago (and they won’t stay at the Motel 6), you’re got money to cover at best 4-6 months. AND the clock has been running on these guys for close to a year now with no payment made to them at all thus far. The only ones who have gotten money from Blago has been Winston & Strawn. W&S’s expenses for George Ryan trial (pro bono) have been estimated in the range of $15 million. And you think $2 million will cover the first trial? Laughable.

  30. - Zora - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:29 pm:

    VM, pura vida! You nailed the lyrics again. Are you going to translate for the gringos? Don’t deny them.

  31. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:42 pm:

    Blago has to represent himself because his ego will force him to testify and he is the only lawyer nutty enough to allow it.

  32. - Concerned Observer - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:42 pm:

    Little E — W&S weren’t exactly claiming the Public Defender’s salary when they considered their expenses. They were considering their regular price.

    I’m also calling b-s on a paralegal making $55/hr. There are no paralegals making over $110K/yr, especially if they work for a lawyer who’s only making $110/hr.

    But you’re right, my cost analysis was a little perfunctory. Ultimately, it probably won’t matter…they’ll freeze the campaign cash anyway.

  33. - Kevin Fanning - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 3:48 pm:

    It’s too bad. I was looking forward to Blago doing something like this…

  34. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 4:02 pm:

    VM, pura vida! You nailed the lyrics again. Are you going to translate for the gringos? Don’t deny them.

    Thank you very much. Guantanamera is a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics. Rewriting it felt like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. I tried to keep some of it’s beauty, and the tenor of the song with the rewrite. I’ll try to translate for those without the ability to use a English/Spanish translation tool.

    I am an honest man
    From where corruption grows
    And before dying they want
    To prevent my deportation to.
    Costa Rica! No! Costa Rica!

    My favorite color is dollar green
    And my eyes are flaming crimson
    My heart is a wounded deer
    Who seeks refuge in the woods in
    Costa Rica! No! Costa Rica!

    I cultivate a white lie
    Every election year
    For my Democratic friends
    Who gives me their honest hands.
    Costa Rica! No! Costa Rica!

    And for the cruel Judge
    who would tear out this heart with which I live
    I do not cultivate nettles nor thistles
    I cultivate a white lie
    Costa Rica! No! Costa Rica!

    With the working people of Illinois
    Forced to share my fate
    The wicked ones who impeached me
    Will raise your taxes high
    Costa Rica! No! Costa Rica!

  35. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 4:38 pm:

    VM, that is really nice but it makes me sympathetic for the Blago, that poor wounded deer.
    You would stick with the bad pop tunes for Blago-he doesn’t deserve this poetry.

  36. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 4:42 pm:


    Maybe you would prefer the Spanish version as mangled by the Babel Fish translator-

    I am a sincere man Of where the corruption grows And before dying I want to me In order to prevent my deportation Costa Rica! , NO! , Costa Rica! My favorite color is green dollar and the eyes carmine ignited My heart is of a wounded red deer That looks for in the mount shelter Costa Rica! , NO! , Costa Rica! Culture a pious lie Every year of election For the sincere Democrats Who gives to its hand selection me Costa Rica! , that goes, Costa Rica! And for the cruel Juel that takes the alive heart to me whereupon Thistle nor nettle culture Culture a pious lie Costa Rica! , NO! , Costa Rica! With the workers of Forced Illinois to share my destiny The evildoer whom he accused to me He will raise his taxes high Costa Rica! , NO! , Costa Rica!

  37. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 5:01 pm:

    Thats not bad!

    Very Rumsfeldian.

  38. - Little Egypt - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 5:11 pm:

    Concerned Observer, you are correct that a paralegal does not make $55 an hour. Neither does a clerical worker. But that’s what the law firm will be allowed to bill.

    Also correct that W&S’s estimate to defend Ryan was WAY overestimated. They did that for tax purposes.

  39. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 5:26 pm:

    I think Blagojevich understands exactly what is going and exactly what position he is in. We are just not comfortable with his apparent reactions to his situation. He is sane, and he knows the difference.

  40. - Northside Bunker - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 5:28 pm:

    Maybe Disney could do a remake of “Peter Pan”.
    Rod could play the lead by going around sprinkling “Fairy Dust” on everyone. Bet he misses flying around.

  41. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Apr 21, 09 @ 6:31 pm:

    Pity. Perhaps we could have lost him there. It would have been appropriate to have him play a bit part in a freak show.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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