Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

December 2019
S M T W T F S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: James Zagel

It’s Almost Blago Time Again; Sentencing Set for Dec. 6

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s almost Blago time again.

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago set sentencing for the ever-chatty, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Dec. 6.

Blago almost skated in his first public corruption trial when the jury convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. It deadlocked on the remainder.

But the second time around, in a retrial, the prosecution tightened up and simplified its case. The jury convicted Blago on 17 or 20 public corruption counts.

The Tribune reported that Blago’s attorney said his client intends to speak at the sentencing hearing.

co-defendant, William Cellini, a Springfield power broker who was convicted last wee

Blago Sentencing Set for Oct. 6

Blagojevich as governor/state photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Oct. 6 won’t be a pretty day.

That’s the day U.S. District Judge James Zagel of Chicago has set for sentencing for the ever-chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to court records.

In his retrial, Blago was convicted of 17 or 20 counts. He alos faces sentencing for the one count he was convicted of his first trial — laying to the FBI.

At a hearing on Monday Monday’s court hearing, the judge indicated he wasn’t impressed with Blagojevich’s attorneys 158-page filing seeking a new trial. The Chicago Tribune reported that the judge said:

“There doesn’t seem to be anything new,” he said.

Sheldon Sorosky, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys, hinted outside of court the defense at sentencing would raise Blago’s contributions to the state and the fact two daughters depend on him.

“He cared for the ordinary guy,” Sorosky said, according to the Trib.

Let the Fun Begin: Fed Prosecutor Calls Blago a “Liar” As Retrial Nears

headline after first trial

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pretrial hearing was like a “weigh in” before the big boxing match, where both sides snipe at one another.

A federal prosecutor on Monday called the very chatty ex-Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich a ‘liar’  at a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

And U.S. District Judge James Zagel warned Blago to watch what he yaps to the media because some of those things could be used against him in the trial that begins on Wednesday.

“You can consider my remarks a red flag,” Zagel said.

Lead prosecutor Reid Schar complained about Blagojevich,  who was saying in the media that federal attorneys tried to hide evidence that might  clear him of the accusations, which include allegations that he tried to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat, the Tribune reported.

Schar said in court, according to the Trib:  “This is just an attempt by him to poison what’s going on. . . . At a certain point, enough is enough.”  Schar said he would like to grill Blago on  the witness stand and “confront him with his lies.”  However, it’s not clear if Blago will take the stand in his retrial. He did not in the first trial in which he was only convicted on 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI.

Schar was particularly annoyed by Blago’s comments on TV in which he said the government had the power to publicly release more FBI wiretap recordings, the Tribune reported. Schar said that power resides with the judge. Blago has claimed repeatedly that the prosecutors don’t want to release all the FBI recordings, which would prove his innocence.

“We’d like some remedy for those fabrications that he’s not being called on,” he said, according to the Tribune.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky countered by saying Blago  was offering up his understanding of the rules and intentionally fabricating them, according to the Trib.

Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig said in a statement, according to the Trib: “The governor will continue to be truthful, honest and responsible as he does everything he can to clear his name.”

Is the Chicago Judge Going too Far by Withholding Jurors Names After the Verdict?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Imagine taxpayers spending millions of dollars collectively trying an Illinois governor, and in the end, the case all but collapses. The jurors only convict on one of 24 counts . They end up deadlocked on the rest.

Imagine that. Yes,it’s not too hard, considering it happened in the first trial of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Isn’t it fair to assume people want to know why the case collapsed? Can we go as far as to say they have a right to know? I’d say Yes.

So I speak with some mixed feelings when I read that the U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago on Tuesday ruled that he won’t release the names of the jurors until 9 a.m., the day after the verdict in the retrial of Blagojevich, which begins April 20.

The judge wants to  protect the jurors. Fair.

Zagel raises some good points: He says the press after the first trial hounded the jurors to find out what they were thinking. They knocked on doors. A TV helicopter reportedly flew up above a home where one jury was staying, the Associated Press reported. The judge has said the press was  obnoxious, that reporters went too far.

I’m for some balance. Jurors have rights.  But so does the public — the right to know. At minimum, the judge — and in other high profile cases as well — should strongly suggest — and not just throw it out as an option — that at least one of the jurors should brief the press after the verdict. Judges have a way of being persuasive, particularly after they bond with jurors during a trial. They can make it happen. And maybe that way, reporters wouldn’t have to knock on doors.

We have a right to know: What the prosecution, what the defense  did right, what they did wrong. Was it taxpayers’ money well spent? Did justice — regardless of the verdict — prevail?

There should be dignity in these proceedings. No question. But citizens — the lion’s share who don’t have time to attend these trials  — have the right to know what’s going on in the courts.

And while I’m at it, frankly, it’s time to bring television cameras into federal court to let citizens — some who have never stepped foot in a federal court — see what’s going on.  Worse yet, some federal courts, like in  Alexandria, Va., do everything to make it difficult for the press to do its job. The court there doesn’t allow reporters to carry cell phones (this is the 21st Century) and laptops (granted they shouldn’t be used in the courtrooms).

I have to commend federal courthouses like the one in Washington, which try to accommodate the press. Reporters can carry cell phones and bring a laptop into the courthouse.  And during some trials, like the one in D.C. involving Sen. Ted Stevens, the court set up an overflow room with TV monitors where reporters used laptops to report to the public what was going on. Other courthouses should follow suit.

Federal court is a dignified place.  But let’s strike a balance. Let’s not lose sight of the fact the people have a right to know what’s going on!

Judge in Blago Case May Get Jurors No-Trespassing Signs for Homes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Is a federal judge going too far by restraining the media or just being considerate?

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel  in Chicago said Thursday he may have the U.S. Marshals Service offer no-trespassing signs to jurors to put up at their homes following the verdict in the retrial of ex-Ill Gov. Rod Blagojevich to keep reporters away.

“We have clear evidence that some members of the media will disregard the ordinary rights of citizens … to get the story,” Zagel said, according to the Tribune.

The judge made the remark at a hearing in which media outlets argued against proposed restrictions to keep the media away from jurors, the Tribune reported. The judge said he was bothered by the media hounding jurors after the first trial in which Blagojevich was convicted on 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the other counts.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the idea distressing because of the message it would send to jurors, the Tribune reported. She said the post-verdict interviews provide the public a better understanding of the process.

“Passing out signs is signaling to them the media is going to make your life miserable,” Dalglish said of Zagel’s comments, ” according to the Tribune. “I don’t think that should be his role.”

Dalglish also noted the importance of post-verdict media interviews of jurors, saying they provide important understanding to the public and the legal system about how a case was handled.

The trial is set for April 20.

Blago II Could Start Up in January

Sam Adam Jr. may not return for act 2/ law firm photo

Sam Adam Jr. may not return for act 2/ law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The sequel to Rod Blagojevich’s first public corruption trial could be coming to a federal court room in downtown Chicago as early as January, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Trib reported that in a private meeting last week between U.S. District Judge James Zagel and lawyers, the judge said he was considering a January date.

Whether Blagojevich has the same attorneys is in question. His legal team of seven lawyers was paid from his $2.7 million campaign fund, which is now totally depleted.

The judge indicated he would appoint Blago two attorneys, which are likely to be paid by taxpayers.

The father and son team of Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. have hinted they may not return for a second act, the Tribune reported.  Blagojevich was convicted last week on one of 24 public corruption counts. The jury deadlocked on the other 23 counts and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.

APPEARANCE ON THE DAILY SHOW MONDAY

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Rod Blagojevich Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Chicago Jurors Still Going at it in Ex-Gov. Blagojevich Case

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

Ex-Gov on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Can you say Day 11?

Well, Wednesday marks the 11th day jurors will deliberate in the federal public corruption case against the over-chatty ex-Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich in downtown Chicago.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel told attorneys on Tuesday that he’s heard nothing from the jurors as of late.

The last note jurors sent to the judge was July 30. If we could only stick a camera in the jury room we’d have a pretty good reality TV show.

Judge Threatens to Hold Blago’s Attorney in Contempt

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

Sam Adam Jr./ law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Closing arguments in the public corruption trial of Ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich were supposed to finish up on Monday, but those plans were derailed when Blago’s attorney got into a big tiff with the judge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The judge threatened to hold Blago’s attorney Sam Adam Jr in contempt if he said certain things during closing arguments. And Adam vowed to go to jail if necessary. The closing arguments were delayed.

Just another day in the Blago trial in downtown Chicago.

The tiff started just before Adam was to deliver his closing arguments. U.S. District Judge James Zagel told Adam — outside the presence of the jury — that he could not say that the prosecution mentioned 35 people in the case, including Tony Rezko, and never called them as witnesses.

“You cannot draw an evidentiary inference from the fact a witness was not called by the other side when you had an equal right to call them,” Zagel told Adam, according to the Sun-Times.

Adam argued with the judge, who said: “You will follow this order, because if you don’t you will be in contempt of court.”

“With all due deference to the court, I have a man here who’s arguing for his life. . . . I can’t effectively represent this man. . . . I can’t follow this order,” Adam told Zagel, according to the Sun-Times. “I’m willing to go to jail on this.”

After court, Sam Adam Jr. said he would go to jail “in a heartbeat” if that’s what it takes, the Sun-Times reported.

Arguments are scheduled to resume Tuesday.

To read more click here.

UPDATE: 12:55 PM Tuesday: Defense Attorney Sam Adam Jr. began delivering his closing argument without incident, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. To read more click here.