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Jurors ask for prosecution’s closing argument transcript

Thursday, Jul 29, 2010

* There was a bit of a flurry this morning at the federal courthouse when it was announced that the jury had sent a note to the judge. Could there be a verdict this soon? No way, right? Well, it turns out, they wanted a transcript of the prosecution’s closing arguments

The jury in Rod Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial has asked its first question during deliberations: Whether it could have a copy of the prosecution’s closing arguments.

Prosecutors laughed when the question was read. Judge James Zagel denied the request.

Zagel denied the request because closing arguments are not evidence. More

In closing arguments, Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner extensively laid out the charges in the case with an explanation of each count and what evidence the prosecution believed proved their case.

Zagel noted that the indictment in the case, which does go back with the jury, was complicated and repetitive.

“If they are unable to work their way through this without the statements, I expect this issue to rise again,” Zagel said. “And I will deal with it.”


Zagel said he could see why the jury would want the transcript, since it might provide a “roadmap” for deliberations. Assistant U.S. Atty. Christopher Niewoehner’s closing had been especially detailed and given in Powerpoint style on an overhead screen.

The judge said he might be willing to revisit the request if it is made later in deliberations. But he said if he were to grant it, he would be inclined to give the panel transcripts of all the closing arguments.

It just goes to show that the prosecution did a great job in closing arguments. The defense? Not so much.

* By the way, if you want to read a copy of the jury instructions, click here. The indictment is here. I’ve put links to both, plus the jury form, in the “Blagojevich Trial” pull-down menu on the right side of the page.

* So, how long will the jury deliberate? The George Ryan jury deliberated 10 days. Tony Rezko’s jury hashed things out for 13 days. The Daily Herald has more

Because of the sheer size and complexity of the case - including nearly eight weeks of evidence, more than an hour of instructions from Judge James Zagel issued Wednesday, and an 11-page worksheet that lays out requirements for guilt - the consensus around the federal courtroom is a verdict is likely to take at least a few days.

“I’m not anticipating one,” Zagel said of the likelihood of a quick verdict.

* Sam Adam, Sr. shared his thoughts with WBEZ

ADAM, SR: My gut tells me this jury will be out at least until Friday. […]

ADAM, SR: …there’re several jurors I think that are with us. There are several jurors - I’m sure - haven’t really made up their mind. And there may or may not be one or two who are against us.

* Intrade is starting to hedge

Intrade, the futures prediction market, has Rod Blagojevich’s conviction trading at 70 – which translates into the market predicting that there is a 70% chance the former Illinois governor will be convicted.

While this might not be the most encouraging odds for Blagojevich, the market has been dropping from a peak at 90 in early June, and from 75 two days ago – suggesting that investors are becoming less confident that the jury will return a guilty verdict.

The betting history

If it drops to 60, buy.

* And Mark Brown asked a good question today. Why didn’t anybody call the coppers on Blagojevich?

Neither racetrack owner John Johnston nor those road-building executives in search of tollway work went running to the feds to seek protection from Blagojevich’s efforts to pry campaign donations from them. At the time of the governor’s arrest, they obviously were still holding out hope they’d get what they wanted without coughing up the money. No sense rocking the boat.

Even Children’s Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon, the guy most clearly on the side of the angels in this affair, didn’t go out of his way to help catch the governor in the act.

Magoon consulted a criminal attorney to advise him how to handle what he perceived as an improper attempt by the Blagojevich crew to collect campaign contributions in exchange for increasing state aid to benefit the hospital.

Did the lawyer advise Magoon to go to the feds? No, he told him to quit taking phone calls from the governor’s team.

The strategy clearly was to sit tight and see if Blagojevich came through on his promise to authorize the funding.

I’m not trying to blame the victims. The point is that the no-snitch culture transcends the streets. It’s in our corporate boardrooms and under the Capitol dome.

Brown may have forgotten one alleged victim. Mother Tribune.

* Roundup…

* Blago jurors enjoy cocoon

* Blagojevich trial: Inside the jury room

* Jury begins deliberations

* Jury gets case in Blagojevich corruption trial

* Blago judge makes right call on jurors

* Sam the Ham’s closing didn’t impress me

* What kind of parents take kids to court?

* Blagojevich saga a lesson for pols

* Sam Adam light? Well, lighter

* Mell outraged

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    They aren’t victims… perhaps maybe Magoon. By and large, these are people who are used to paying to play. Johnston, Kozel et al know how the game is played, Blago just became so toxic that it became hard for them to get donations in the door.

    Jesse Jackson Jr. should be at the Defense table with Rod… he was buying what Rod was selling. Many others were too. Jesse may still be indicted, but by and large, many who engaged in this behavior for years by buying Rod’s favor will walk… some still hold their state jobs and/or board appointments… little changes.

  2. - Gregor - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    You mean the question the jury sent Zagel wasn’t: “What would Sam say about this?” LOL

  3. - Ghost - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:39 pm:

    Interesting on the jury question. Looks like they ar settlin in to walk through each of the charges but are a bit overwhelemd by the scope of the case.

  4. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:40 pm:

    Not a lot of volume on that market…

  5. - And I Approved This Message - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:45 pm:

    What drives me crazy about these predictions by Intrade and pundits and man on the street interviews is that it makes it seem like there is only one count in this case. Either Rod will be found guilty or he’ll be found innocent. There are 24 chances for him to be guilty or innocent, not one. Predictions are stupid on the face of it but especially stupid in this complicated case.

  6. - bored now - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:46 pm:

    mark brown: this is illinois. and we have an *incredibly* high tolerance for corruption and abuse of power. why would anyone go to the cops? it will happen again sometime in the future, and we’ll still ignore it. call it illinois’ exceptionalism. we allow our pols to “get their’s”…

  7. - Scooby - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:53 pm:

    Well Mark, maybe because even being a prosecution witness in a trial like this costs thousands in legal bills and people don’t generally voluntarily put themselves through that.

  8. - And I Approved This Message - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:54 pm:

    Should have said guilty or not guilty.

  9. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 12:57 pm:

    Blago was well known for getting even. Half of my agency was laid off because he wanted to get even with the head of our governing board. If they had called the feds and then nothing happened, where would that have left them? He’s a mean vindictive person whom no one wanted to cross.

  10. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    We really don’t know what went through the victim’s minds regarding these dealings. Having a governor or one of his personal staffers contact you regarding a deal is still unusual enough, even in Illinois, to be unexpected.

    Blagojevich ran as a reformer, remember? This is the guy who promised to clean up politics. Today we all seem to wonder, but when this stuff was happening it shouldn’t be surprising that these victims were taken aback and questioning if they were hearing Blagojevich correctly.

    It would be like getting hit on by Mr. Rogers. Or Al Gore. Or Barney. When these kinds of things happen, you don’t always believe what you are hearing, even when he is just standing there wearing a towel and a smile.

  11. - Interested Observer - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:08 pm:

    VanMan “even when he is just standing there wearing a towel and a smile.” Yuck, that’s a vision that will take awhile to get out of my head.

  12. - anon - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:18 pm:

    Prediction: If Blago walks, either by way of acquital or hung jury, the mood of Illinois voters will be worse for incumbent Democrats. The public sees Rod as corrupt, and generally speaking they will feel very dissatisfied with anything short of conviction. The one way to vent that frustration/anger will be at the polls. Just as Democrats were happy Rod chose no to testify, they should pray for conviction to put this mess behind Illinois.

  13. - Illinois Tollway 6 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:19 pm:

    He’s a mean vindictive person whom no one wanted to cross.
    You have no idea!

  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:23 pm:

    === If Blago walks, either by way of acquital or hung jury===

    He won’t walk for long if the jury hangs. They’ll just try him again.

  15. - Stooges - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:23 pm:

    Lincolnlover is exactly right. Even if those approached for a contribution were appalled and felt as if they were wronged, they and their employees still have to make a living in this state, and many times they are dependent on the State for funding, programs, and opportunities to bid on contracts. Most probably took their lumps from the guv’s office and didn’t burn bridges, because his backlash was severe.

  16. - Joe - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:27 pm:

    It’s usually speculation to try to infer why a jury asks for something. Grading the attorneys closing arguments based on a jury question is not a good method.

    “It just goes to show that the prosecution did a great job in closing arguments. The defense? Not so much.”

  17. - Really Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:29 pm:

    A very good note for the prosecution. The jury is trying to work through the evidence, count-by-count, in a businesslike fashion, and clearly view the prosecution’s closing as a guide for doing that. Adam’s (Chewbacca) defense, by contract, was to get at least one juror to ignore the evidence and react purely on emotion. This is exactly what the prosecution wanted.

    No reason to waste much energy worrying about the effects of an acquittal.

  18. - Zora - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:40 pm:

    That he is mean and vindictive is not a rational reason to stay silent when you see Blago’s kind of wrong doing.

    Remember the Hollywood guy who was being shaken down by Blago’s guys? He spoke up and it stopped.

    Unless you live in a military state, meekly going along a bullying, corrupt leader like Blago is no virtue. And, as his spineless inner circle must now realize, it is no cure.

  19. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    And I approved…….

    {There are 24 chances for him to be guilty or innocent, not one. Predictions are stupid on the face of it but especially stupid in this complicated case.}

    I am sure Johnny Johnston could tell you that handicapping is more science than it is art, and the scientists count on the artists to provide residual profits for them at the racetrack over the long haul, even if they get lucky every now and then.

    While its true that there are 24 horses in the race here, they do not all have equal odds of crossing the Finish Line first; or second or third. Some of the harges have a greater manifest weight of the evidence than others (PROBABILITIES), and each of them has its own set of sentencing guidelines (PAYOUT). In addition, there are mitigating circumstances that influence the magnitude of the payout, based on the cumulative effect of the guilty or not guilty verdicts (EXOTIC WAGERING).

    This is indeed far more complicated than people would like to make it, but it is also not as simple as the 1/24 equation you have suggested either.

  20. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:44 pm:

    Either they were meek, or they just wanted to get paid and pay less for the benefits. I’m betting on the latter.

  21. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:53 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:23 pm:

    === If Blago walks, either by way of acquital or hung jury===

    “He won’t walk for long if the jury hangs. They’ll just try him again.”

    I think that depends on a poll of the jury, Rich. If 11-1, probably, although I would bet they reduce the number of charges to the number that they feel were the strongest charges.

    If the jury is something like 6-6, I think the Feds would get some major blowback if they went after him again. At that point, I wouldn’t want to be named Patti…

  22. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:55 pm:

    ===, I think the Feds would get some major blowback if they went after him again===

    From whom?

  23. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:19 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 1:55 pm:

    ===, I think the Feds would get some major blowback if they went after him again===

    “From whom?”

    For starters, the Federal Government. Blago’s trial must have cost a fortune, and sucked up the oxygen in the Prosecutor’s office. These departments do run on a budget. And there are other priorities that must be set aside to devote the level of resources required for the trial.

    I can see some underhanded tricks by both Republicans and Democrats. Questions like: What are the Feds doing about gun trafficking in Chicago? Mayor campaigning starts right after the November election, and guns and violence may be an issue.

    The media. I can see some of the same people (this is not directed at you, BTW) who are pronouncing him guilty swinging around and actually supporting Rod!

    The Roadshow. Can you imagine Rod’s post-verdict antics? I don’t think I can even stretch my imagination on what he’d do, but it would make his buffoonery from Trump’s show look like a church service. I think that he might able to get some sympathy in the aftermat of a hung jury.

    All this assumes a large percentage of the jury will not convict.

  24. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:41 pm:

    Mark Brown’s question is one of great naivete. Hole about the Feds who have not or will not get a handle on the corruption in city hall?

    Who do you consider a reliable law enforcement to make the complaints to? The State police - who report to the Illinois government?

    At the end of the day, everyone who had the squeeze put on them had and still do have some sort of business relationship to the State. If they complained and the fix was in, they lose a revenue stream. They were shafted whether the stayed silent, complained or knuckled over.

  25. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:42 pm:


    I don’t see how this has ’sucked up the oxygen in the Prosecutor’s office’, the prosecute people all of the time. Sometimes in long trials. Also a second trial would not be nearly as expensive because you would have a minimal investigative expense.

    If anything the Chicago media would get pissed if you didn’t try again.

  26. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:52 pm:

    There are people who think he is innocent. There are also people who don’t think we landed on the moon.

  27. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 2:52 pm:

    Zora - That all sounds so good, but the reality is that most of us don’t have the financial freedom to be morally courageous. In my particular case, Blago’s vindictiveness caused 34 people to be laid off. I had to pull my daughter out of college and put my life on hold because of his total disregard for anyone but himself. I’m not alone - there are plenty out there who felt his rath from a distance. As for those who were being shaken down - it took Tony Rezko’s conviction for them to feel safe enough to step forward.

  28. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:06 pm:

    Was Mother Tribune a victim or partner? They were hot for that Wrigley Field deal.

    By time the shakedowns Rod was charged with came around, no one believed he was a reformer, if anyone ever did. People were scared of retribution. More whistleblowers are condemned than praised. Nobody likes a snitch.

  29. - Really Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:21 pm:

    “Nobody likes a snitch.”
    Police do.
    Prosecutors do.
    People who want justice do.
    People who want to change Illinois do.

    Pamela Davis of Edward Hospital deserves a lot of praise.

  30. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:47 pm:

    Before anybody jumps on Intrade to place a wager, you would be well-advised to take some time to read the jury instructions. I know, it’s like 136 pages (no wonder the jury wanted the summary!). Here is an excerpt regarding Count 2, Conspiracy:

    “For purposes of Count 2, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to accomplish an unlawful purpose. To sustain a charge of conspiracy, the government must prove:

    First, that the conspiracy as charged in Count 2 existed; and

    Second, that the defendant knowingly became a member of the conspiracy with an intention to further the conspiracy. A conspiracy may be established even if its purpose was not accomplished.

    To establish the existence of the charged conspiracy and its common purpose or purposes, the government need not establish that there existed a formal agreement to conspire. The agreement may be inferred from all the
    circumstances and the conduct of all the alleged participants.

    The conspiracy may be proved by circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence concerning the relationship of the parties and the totality of their conduct.”

    Can anyone who listened to or read the testimony and evidence presented by the prosecution find reasonable doubt that a conspiracy to use the office of the Governor to maximize contributions to Friends of Blagojevich existed?

    I don’t think so. If the jury follows the instructions, they will find Rod guilty of most charges. It really is that simple.

  31. - Zora - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 3:54 pm:

    When we refuse to be go along with a corrupt leader, it often comes with a cost.

    And when we appease a corrupt leader, it also comes with a cost. Just ask John Harris, et al.

    Personally, I prefer to pay the former cost (and have). Appeasing a bully isn’t a particularly effective way to build economic security anyway, plus it is hell on a good night’s sleep.

  32. - lincolnlover - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:13 pm:

    Zora - It is one thing to make the decision to sacrifice yourself for the good of the state, but the point is that no man, or woman, stands alone. Blago was angry at two people on our governing board and wanted to mess with their lives because they stood up to him. But, the result was that 34 people who had never met the guy got THEIR lives screwed with instead. As was stated earlier on this blog, many of the business people who were being shook down for bribes had numerous employees that they were responsible for. There was much more at stake for them than just being noble.

  33. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:18 pm:

    Blowback? For what, doing their job? If it’s an internal budget thing, well then every Governor need not be afraid of committing any crime since there is too high a cost of prosecuting them, especially if they can outspend the government. Please pick up on my sarcasm.

    Come on man, get serious. Federal prosecutors live for these types of cases, and there is no cost/benefit analysis or efficiency test when bringing down high-level individuals and doing justice. These types of cases allow the Federal government to show that no one is above the law.

  34. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 4:47 pm:

    I disagree Phineas. Though I don’t like my alderman, in this instance he’s trying to shield his granddaughter from unpleasantness. In this case I will cut him some slack.

  35. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 5:00 pm:


    I really don’t disagree with you-I was just stunned to see on what issue he chose to break his silence and voice his outrage.

  36. - Zora - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 5:03 pm:

    lincolnlover, that is a truly sad story. And wholly consistent with what we know about Blago, namely, that he uses people as pawns and human shields.

    All the more reason to stand up to him until he’s stopped because, as you say, no man or woman stands alone.

    To do otherwise only builds the bully’s sense of invincibility. Appeasing him sends him down his path, freshly stoked and ready to turn on the next group or department or person that crosses him. And then those people will get sacked, unless they lay down. And so on.

    So either way, there’s a cost, one that is collectively felt, for sure.

    Blago and his ilk assume that people will opt for the response that lets the bully keep his power.

    Denying them that isn’t about being “noble,” it is about being effective.

  37. - Huh? - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 6:35 pm:

    I don’t understand how would dead meat been able to have access to the campaign funds. Can somebody explain how a campaign contribution would have been a benefit to dead meat?

  38. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 6:40 pm:

    To pay his legal bills.

  39. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 6:56 pm:

    Or for the next campaign he thought he’d be running.

  40. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 8:08 pm:

    He could also give the money to other candidates and then perhaps sought some sort of quid-pro-quo

  41. - Emily Booth - Thursday, Jul 29, 10 @ 8:44 pm:

    I thought it was someone from a state board who went to the FBI in 2002?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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