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Inherit The Windbag: Bombastic Closing Arguments Conclude

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 28, 2010 2:00PM

With all the bombast we've come to expect of him, Sam Adam Jr., attorney for ex-governor Rod Blagojevich, settled his most recent feud with Judge Zagel and delivered a Hellfire and brimstone closing argument in defense of his client yesterday. The first matter of business was settling the issue of Adam's insistence on mentioning the witnesses the federal government had originally planned to call but didn't, a no-no by order of the judge. After denying that he ever used the word "jail" in his threat to hold Adam in contempt, Judge Zagel explained to Adam how to best proceed, per the Sun-Times:

Zagel tells Adam that if he steps over the line in his closing argument, the judge will sit him down in the middle of his remarks. So, Zagel suggests, if Adam wants to step over this line, he should reorganize his argument and put that part at the end -- so the judge can sit him down when it's about to be over.

With that matter settled, after a brief recess, Adam launched into his closing argument. He addressed Blago not being called to testify, calling it "the pink elephant in the room," and saying he didn't testify because he didn't have to: “I had no idea that in the two months of trial, [prosecutors] would prove nothing.” Adam tried to discredit witnesses, even stooping to say of former deputy governor Bob Greenlee, "He looked like Tom Arnold and Buddy Holly had a baby ... remember those glasses?" Adam returned to pop culture in defending Blago's rantings caught on tape, dismissing it as jealousy of then-president-elect Barack Obama's success: “If you put Joan and Melissa Rivers in a room, you wouldn’t get that much talk."

Of course, all the grandstanding prompted a stern warning from Judge Zagel and multiple objections from the prosecutions. Not that it stopped Adam.

Adam took on his own client:

  • He called Blago a victim of his own bad judgement: “He’s got absolutely horrible judgment in people. They (prosecutors) want you to find him guilty because of that.”
  • He said Blago wasn't corrupt because he was "broke": “If you’re corrupt, all you do is tell someone to pay the bill!”
  • He even knocked on Blago's intelligence a bit in a humorous attempt to downplay any wrong-doing on the ex-gov's part: “As much as I like him, and as much as he’s loved around the world, this is a man who considered appointing Oprah Winfrey (to the U.S. Senate). No one’s going to say he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s not corrupt.”

And with that, in dramatic, hushed fashion, Adam wrapped up his argument: "Find this man not guilty. This is serious stuff ... He never intended on extorting anybody."

But prosecutors got last crack with rebuttal, given by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar who begins by contradicting Adam on Blago's intelligence: "He is not stupid. He is very smart. He didn't get elected twice ... by accident." Breaking down the charges, Schar asked jurors to use "common sense" in their analysis of the wiretap tapes. And Schar wrapped up his rebuttal by dismissing the defense's charge that those around Blago were setting him up:

"There's a conspiracy of liars," Schar says. "Everyone's lying to frame defendant Blagojevich .... It's one of the great frame-ups of all time."

"What's amazing about this massive conspiracy, not only are these people lying, they somehow managed to get defendant Blagojevich on the tapes you've heard to frame himself!" he says. "Somehow they've managed to do that."

And with that complete, Judge Zagel sent the jury home for the day to report back bright and early this morning. Right about now, in fact. This morning, Zagel will read the jury their instructions and at that point it will all be in their hands as deliberations begin.