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Judge Imposes Gag Order On Beavers Trial

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 13, 2013 10:20PM

William Beavers
A federal judge imposed a gag order in the tax evasion trial of Cook County commissioner William Beavers Wednesday after Beavers’ defense attorney made a comment that jury selection in the trial was “rigged.” This means today’s shenanigans will mark the highlight of the trial for us, until a verdict is reached.

Would it surprise anyone to discover the comments about jury selection came from defense attorney Sam Adam Jr.? This is the same Adam who effectively argued Rod Blagojevich’s first corruption trial in the court of public opinion just as much as he argued it Judge James Zagel, who also happens to be the presiding judge in Beavers’ trial.

Zagel made it known he would not tolerate any more of Adam’s bluster after the attorney told media Tuesday he was “outraged” there were no men in the 50-person jury pool. “I thought I was in Mississippi today ... the only black man down here today was Jim Crow!” Adam, um, crowed.

In fairness to Adam, he does have an argument here.

Sun-Times reporter Kim Janssen wrote an interesting article about the jury selection process in federal trials, which is randomly selected by an independent office within the courthouse. Only 19 percent of residents in the greater Chicago area the federal courthouse use for jury selection are black, meaning the odds of an African American being randomly selected to a jury pool are less than 1 percent. Even Zagel was shocked at the lack of diversity in the jury pool, though he rejected a motion from Adam and Beavers’ defense team for a new jury pool.

Beavers’ defense was given another setback earlier this week when Zagel ruled prosecutors could show jurors his 2005 tax return. Beavers is charged with spending more than $68,000 in campaign funds to boost his city pension, and spending his $1,200 monthly county contingency account for personal purposes between 2006 and 2008 without reporting any of these funds as income on his federal tax returns. Beavers’ defense is that the oversight was a simple accounting error; prosecutors want to use the 2005 tax returns as proof to the contrary. Zagel previously allowed Beavers’ gambling losses to be shown at the trial.

Beavers is also expected to argue, as he’s said in public since he was indicted, that he’s on trial only because he refused to be a “stool pigeon” for federal investigators. Wednesday’s gag order removes the only real entertainment we would enjoy from the trial — the chance to read some choice quotes from Adam and especially Beavers. After all, this is a man who famously called himself “the Hog with the Big Nuts” and called former federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald “a rooster with no nuts.”