Former advisor and Deputy Governor Doug Scofield completed testimony this morning in the trial of Rod Blagojevich and a state ethics training director has taken the stand.
Before proceedings began this morning there was a bit of tension in the air between Judge Zagel and Defense Attorney Aaron Goldstein.
Defense attorney's filed three separate motions late yesterday asking for a mistrial, one of which accused the judge of hindering Goldsteins cross examination by sustaining repeated objections to the point where defense " was not permitted to develop evidence" which would discredit the witness.
The judge appeared angry at the mere implication and offered Goldstein a second crack at it this morning, however Goldstein declined the opportunity.
After a long holiday weekend, the trial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich picked up again today with a consultant who did work for Tony Rezko and a real estate agent.
Before proceedings began this morning the judge announced the dismissal of a juror due to family illness.
An FBI agent has testified that information supplied to him by political fundraiser Joe Cari led him to interview the former Governor regarding his fundraising practices.
Agent Patrick Murphy testified that during an interview in March of 2005 Rod Blagojevich stated he "does not track who contributes to him or how much" saying he "maintained a firewall".
Murphy went on to say that the governor equated politics with fundraising.
Under cross defense, Attorney Sam Adam Jr asked Murphy why his notes claim politics were equal to fundraising but didn't find its way into the report.
A former V.P for Prairie Material a building materials company has testified that the governor turned up the heat on him to get a campaign contribution by holding on to a $6 billion tollway project that was to be given to Prairie.
Gerry Krozel says in a meeting with Blagojevich in September of 2008 Blago explained the new ethics law that was scheduled to take effect the beginning of the year and the importance of donations prior to that date.
Krozel said he never intended to contribute but didn't tell that to the Governor stating "I was afraid that it could be the end of the program."
Rod Blagojevich was not what you would call a workaholic.
According to Bob Greenlee, the former Deputy Governor in 2008 the ex-governor liked to work 2 - 8 hours a week and was at times difficult to pin down.
Greenlee testified that on at least one occasion Blagojevich went as far as hiding in the restroom in an effort to avoid the budget director.
The trial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich continued this morning with former Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee on the stand.
Prosecutors are near the end with just a few witnesses left and plan to rest their case tomorrow.
Later today lobbyist John Wyma is expected to testify.
Wyma had agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation by secretly recording conversations with the governor.
Cross examination of former Deputy Governor Bob Greenlee has been somewhat uncomfortable this morning.
Defense Attorney Aaron Goldstein's attempt to pin down Greenlee on his definition of words such as "could" or "legitimate", prompted Goldstein to pull out a dictionary.
While one juror chuckled the judge was clearly irritated.
Judge Zagel told Goldstein dictionaries can not be used in the court room.
Also, today a hearing was held regarding the release of juror names.
Several media outlets have requested the names of jurors.
Judge Zagel initially denied the motion but an appellate court asked him to reconsider.
Today Zagel said he will take up the issue at a full hearing on Friday July 23rd.
Prosecutors in the trial of Rod Blagojevich hope to rest their case today.
This morning Judge Zagel said he will instruct the jury to return on Monday while attorney's take the remainder of the week to hammer out which tapes will be admitted for the defense.
Rod Blagojevich does not have to attend.
This delay is a bonus for Blagojevich. Yesterday defense attorney's filed a motion to postpone proceedings for a week.
The filing said they needed additional time to secure witnesses due to the rapid pace of the trial. Although the judge has not addressed the motion specifically he did note the break should allow enough time for witness scheduling.
After 31 witnesses and six weeks of testimony prosecutors rested their case late this afternoon in the trial of Rod Blagojevich.
The last witness to take the stand was Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon.
Magoon testified that he felt pressure to donate $25,000 to the Governors campaign after Blagojevich approved $10 million dollars in Medicaid reimbursements to the hospital for pediatric care.
Judge Zagel has instructed the jurors to report back on Monday morning.
Attorney's will take the rest of this week to discuss tapes to be introduced into evidence.
The first witness for the defense in the trial of Rod Blagojevich was his sister-in-law Julie.
Her testimony lasted ten minutes.
The governors brother Robert is now on the stand.
Rod Blagojevich's brother and co-defendant Robert took the stand this morning following his wife Julie.
Both told the jury that Robert decided to help the governor with his fundraising efforts in hopes of strengthening their relationship.
Robert Blagojevich said he was told before he began his work as chairman of Friends of Blagojevich that he should "never mix fundraising with government," and never did.
Rod Blagojevich's brother remains on the stand this morning under cross examination.
Robert Blagojevich appears to be holding up well taking on some tough questions from the prosecution.
Responses to some of the prosecution's accusatory questions included, "that's a leap I will in no way step into; if that's what you're getting at, that didn't happen; I never represented one for the other."
Robert Blagojevich remained defiant on the stand maintaining he committed no crimes.
The ex-governor said yesterday he was proud of his brother. As he looked on in court today, the former governor at times nodded with his brother in agreement.
Tensions rose in the courtroom today as prosecutor Chris Niewoehner questioned Robert Blagojevich repeatedly about several topics including the Senate seat.
Other times the interactions brought laughter in the courtroom.
Niewoehner asked Blagojevich "if John McCain won (the presidency) your brother wouldn't have an appointment to make, would he?"
Blagojevich replied, "No! I wish that would have happened."
Defense attorney's for Rod Blagojevich rested their case just moments ago without presenting any witnesses including the Ex-governor.
Rod Blagojevich has maintained his innocence since his arrest in December of 2008 and has claimed all along he would testify.
His brother and co-defendant Robert did take the stand in his own defense.
Case will not go to the jury today.
All sides have rested.
Jury will receive jury instructions in the jury room today, then be back Monday for closing arguments.
Lawyers are tying up loose ends with judge today.
Both sides have rested in the trial of Rod Blagojevich, but that didn't stop him from working the room.
At break and seemingly in a good mood, the ex-governor was shaking hands with several courtroom watchers.
Blagojevich was even signing autographs.
The judge in the trial of Rod Blagojevich to return on Monday for closing arguments.
Rod Blagojevich spoke to reporters in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal building this afternoon shortly after his defense attorney's rested their case.
When asked why he changed his mind to testify, he told reporters his attorney Sam Adam Sr. convinced him that prosecutors haven't proven their case.
Dozens of people waited hours for the courthouse doors to open this morning in hopes of getting a firsthand view of closing arguments in the trial of Rod Blagojevich.
By 7:30 a.m., nearly 70 people were lined up outside the courtroom.
Another 100 people filled an overflow room.
The ex- governor just entered. He brought his wife and 2 daughters, yet continues to sign autographs with a smile as he enters the 25th floor.
Closings are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
In opening statements this morning prosecutor Chris Niewoehner told the jury that Rod Blagojevich went on a "shopping spree" to see what he could get in exchange for the U.S Senate seat.
Prepared that the defense may try to say the governor was all talk, Niewoehner went on the offensive telling jurors "talking is the crime here ladies and gentlemen."
Before proceedings began a wire fraud count was dropped for Robert Blagojevich.
All morning, defendant Rod Blagojevich has been sitting quietly in court appearing as though he could explode over the persuasive arguments the prosecution is laying out before the jury.
Red in the face and clinching his jaw at times, his wife and two daughters sit just feet away.
This as the prosecutor is raking him over the coals accusing him of lying to the FBI, defrauding the public, shaking down public officials and businessmen--all for personal gain.
His wife Patti is not walking away unscathed either: prosecutors are bringing home the point that Blagojevich received payments from Tony Rezko in 2003, through Patti Blagojevich.
A check for $40,000 went in their account the day after they wrote checks totaling $38,000 for home improvements.
It looks awfully ambitious for lawyers to complete their arguments in full by the end of the day.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chris Niewoehner, is still going through the counts, one-by-one, before the jury.
He wanted 2 1/2 hours to address the jury and so does Sam Adam Jr., attorney for the ex-governor.
If Robert Blagojevich's lawyer talks for an hour and the jury breaks for lunch shortly...arguments will likely run into tomorrow.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Reid Schar, also is allowed to deliver a rebuttal expected to last an hour or so.
The whole Blago family is present following a one-hour lunch break.
Annie, the younger of the two Blagojevich daughters, remains on her mom's lap appearing fidgety at times. Both girls are in plain view of the jury.
Amy will be a freshman in high school this fall. Annie is 7-years-old.
Patti is joined on the fist pew in the gallery by her sister, Deb Mell and her brother.
Noticeably absent: her father, prominent Ald. Dick Mell, who has yet to show up to the trial.
Chris Neiwoehner continues with closing arguments.
Michael Ettinger started his closing arguments at 2 p.m. on behalf of Robert Blagojevich
Robert is charged in four counts only. Count 13 against him was dropped this morning.
Ettinger told the jury that, "A leopard doesn't change his spots."
"He came up here," Ettinger said, "for 4 months to repair a fractured relationship."
The two brothers have a "strained" relationship, according to Robert, and have hardly spoken or made eye contact during the weeks long federal trial.
Ettinger is focusing on Robert's long marriage and his military background as the lawyer refutes the charges against the often forgotten co-defendant.
Closing arguments will carry over into tomorrow in the trial of Rod Blagojevich.
The judge had hoped to complete them in one day, however, Blagojevich's attorney Sam Adam Jr won't begin until late this afternoon.
Adam had told the court he would take more than 2 hours.
Court was abruptly adjourned today after tensions rose between Sam Adam Jr and Judge Zagel with Adam saying he was willing to go to jail for contempt of court if he can't properly defend his client.
Adam argued he should be able to bring up the issue of missing witnesses such as Tony Rezko and Bill Quinlan.
Zagel said he could reformulate his closing and come back tomorrow or designate another lawyer "If you are incapable."
He also added Adam was doing a "disservice" to his client.
I just spoke with Blagojevich attorney, Sam Adam Jr., and he said he will present closings and will not push the judge on the disputed matter (although he'd like to).
He is doing what's best for the client-all lawyers agree.
He said he will follow the judge's orders.
Sam Adam Jr.'s close began at 11 a.m.
He's played three tapes so far aloud for the jury.
"Think about who he intended to extort- the President of the United States. Give me a break!"
Re: Rod: "Everybody knows he's got a big mouth. "
"There's a big pink elephant in the room." Re: promise for Rod to testify"
"He was just yacking...he's an insecure man. He wasn't trying to extort (the POTUS). You know how you know it? Thank goodness-the tapes."
Judge Zagel is listening to arguments about Sam's use of the facts in closing.
They are debating it now.
Theme for the afternoon:"follow the money."
A theme Sam Adam Jr. began with in openings two months ago.
"$400,000 in 6 years.
For suits. For what? To show you he paid for it out of his own pocket?"
"He (Rod) was advised these things were legal."
Sam's final words to the jury...
"When you go back to the jury room, ask yourselves: what would Sam say?...I beg of you...send that man home."
(Chicago) After a five-month hiatus (Cruisin' Ilinois), I had to learn how to do a LIVE shot again. They threw me into the fire this week. Found myself at the Dirksen Federal building covering the first day of closing arguments in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial. Have to admit that I didn't feel sharp (especially on two-hours sleep). But I stumbled my way through the LIVE shots. And somehow we got through the day. It's taken a few days but I'm happy to report that El Caballo is back in the saddle again on WGN Morning News. And it feels good to be back.
But if you miss your regular fix of Cruisin' Illinois, here's a LINK to one of our last stories of the season - the amazing White Squirrels of Olney (http://www.wgntv.com/news/cruisinillinois/wgntv-cruisin-illinois--white-squirrels-july14,0,2309065.story)
Sign of a long day at the end of an exhausting trial... My colleague, Larry Yellin at Fox News Chicago, came to work with two different shoes on Tuesday.
They will decide their deliberating schedule for this phase. It is yet to be announced. They will choose their foreman as well. Patti and Rod Blagojevich are both here. He brought a smile to face the crowds, she brought her knitting. She's making a blue shawl.
The judge says, alternate jurors will be the last five jurors selected in the lot. They will be excused after the entire panel receives instructions. The five will be asked not to talk to the media or have any contact with information connected to the trial.
Zagel said in court today ,regarding a quick verdict, "I'm not anticipating one."
The jury of 12 will go back to the jury room with an indictment, the 136 pages of jury instructions and all the exhibits from the 2 months of trial; that includes all exhibits, including FBI tapes and all transcripts.
On a different matter, Rod Blagojevich's attorney, Sam Adam Jr., turned 38 today. He said he lost 32 pounds because of the trial: long preparation, no lunch for 2 months and stress contributed to a slimmer Sam Adam Jr.
The reading of the jury instructions aloud in court, began at 10:35 a.m.
Patti held back tears as judge talked about being the one who does sentencing.
The waiting game begins...Day 2 of jury deliberations.
The jury is presumably hard at work and the courtroom is empty.
We are relegated to the "pen" in the lobby. While the reference sounds like something better suited for cows in a corral, I like to think of it more like a "playpen."
Not much fun going on here. We're just waiting for SOMETHING to happen.
Jurors in the trial of Rod Blagojevich have sent the judge a note requesting copies of closing arguments.
Judge James Zagel denied the request because it is not evidence.
Inside, the media can only operate from within "The Pen", an area marked by retractable belt barriers. It's probably about 30 x 20 feet - not a lot of space for dozens of camera crews and journalists.
Just about every morning, crew guys and gals will start lining up outside the Dirksen Federal Court building. On big days, some are in place by 3 a.m. After two months of covering the corruption trial, most have fallen into a pretty routine drill.
The unofficial system means placing a tripod in line to reserve your spot for filing in when the courthouse opens at 7 a.m. When it does, it's a mad dash into The Pen to grab the few prime positions. Those are the spaces up front with clear shots when Rod Blagojevich and the lawyers come through security and down the hallway to the elevators. For the stragglers into The Pen, there are ways to still get the shots.
Jurors have sent a note to the judge in the trial of Rod Blagojevich asking for trial transcripts.
At the objection of defense attorneys the judge has proposed that he send a note back to the jury asking for a narrowed request for specific transcripts.
He also plans to tell them it will take some time.
Also this morning the judge denied a defense motion for mistrial.