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Inherit The Windbag: More Drama On The Dancefloor

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 27, 2010 2:25PM

Of course things wouldn't go smoothly or as planned at this trial. Nothing else has so far so why would closing arguments be any different? From the Blagojeviches shameless ploy for pity by bringing their daughters to the courtroom to the antics in the courtroom, yesterday was a day of drama befitting the surreal clusterfuck that has made up everything about the Rod Blagojevich case. The main fireworks came at the end of the day when sparring between Blago attorney Sam Adam Jr. and Judge Zagel, an ongoing battle throughout the entire trial, reached a head. In his closing, Adam tried to point to the "missing witnesses," a reference to a number of witnesses federal prosecutors didn't call while presenting their case (including Tony Rezko and Rahm Emanuel), a move that was in direct defiance of an order from Zagel. After a particularly firey exchange between the two in which Judge Zagel threatened to hold Adam in contempt, Zagel sent the jury home for the day and scheduled a hearing for 8:45 a.m. this morning with attorneys before closing arguments were scheduled to resume at 9:30. After court, with his typical bluster, Adam said, "I have no qualms of going to prison if that's what's best." Besides bombast, what exactly was Adam after with his outburst? The Tribune breaks it down:

Less clear in a case that has been marked by strategic displays of showmanship on both sides was whether Adam's emotional outburst was borne of genuine indignation or whether it was another piece of stagecraft aimed at jurors who might, in defiance of orders, surreptitiously peek at news coverage...

What Adam hoped to do was telegraph to jurors that prosecutors may have pared down their witness list to keep people off the stand who might have undermined the government's case.

The frequent sparring between defense attorneys and Judge Zagel will also, surely, be the primary focus of any appeal effort should Blagojevich be convicted. For now, though, we await what happens from this morning's conference. (For now, it looks like he's changed his mind.)

The appearance of the Blago girls aside, the day began smoothly enough with prosecutors directly addressing the defense's claim that Blago was all talk, no action to there was no crime, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner outlining Blago's "dirty schemes" and telling jurors, "The law doesn't require you to be a successful crook, it just requires you to be a crook."

Niewoehner also went after Patti's influx of cash from Tony Rezko and said of co-defendant and brother Robert, "This is the guy who talked about shutting down the criminal investigation in exchange for the Senate seat. This is the guy who talks about 'tit for tat' and horse-trading." Niewoehner wrapped up his closing argument by reminding the jury who was at the head of all these shenanigans: Rod Blagojevich.

Robert Blagojevich's attorney Michael Ettinger stressed his client's desire to fundraise and help out his brother, not to bribe. Even as Ettinger stressed this connection between the brothers and Robert's efforts to keep Rod out of trouble, he also tried to distance Robert from Rod, saying, "Remember what did this man do? What did he say? Not what his brother said to him -- what did he do?"