Rod Blagojevich will speak to the court today and Zagel made it clear to his attorneys that he may interrupt him with questions.
The outlook looks dim as Judge Zagel played his hand yesterday, agreeing with prosecutors that the figute of $1.5 million should be used as the number Blagojevich got in campaign contributions although the defense claims Blagojevich got no money and that number is not real.
The judge also stated he did not believe Blagojevich was a puppet directed by his aides who should have stopped him and in fact said ,"Based on the tapes he is not an easy man to stop"
Some other points Zagel made:
- that Blagojevich's failure to complete an offense does not necessarily lessen his culpability
- "The Governor of Illinois had the power to inflict penalties on those who did not pay
- The recorded voice of the Defendant mentions $1.5 million - speaks only of this amount- that was the benefit he had in mind. In a very real sense that is what he said. The demand might have been more "the valuation is based on his words"
- Talking about appointing Lisa Madigan- that was one of the few moves available to him that was legal -His first choice was to appoint himself -"My conclusion is consistent with the jury"
- 30 years to life is not appropriate in the context of this case"
- I"t is absurd to contend that his staff and advisors told him what to do -his advisors got no cut or reward -it was all for himself."
Blagojevich's attorneys changed direction yesterday and for the first time told the Judge that what Blagojevich did was wrong.
Carolyn Gurland, a new addition to the defense team (who also aided Conrad Black in his sentencing)presented a personal history of her client. (Gurland's [presentation was organized, to the point, poised and very respectful of the judge) She As she did so, Blagojevich looked sullen, had his hands clasped and gazed down at the table. She portrayed him as a man who "came from nothing"- a phrase Judge Zagel challenged her on - and as a devoted family man. She said in regards to Blagojevich "seeking out publicity" that "The public wasn't going away" and that he spoke to the press "to maintain strength so his wife and children could hold their heads up." Zagel asked,"Were they able to?" and she responded, "it did help them."
Judge Zagel said he refused to ban Blagojevich from speaking to the press and said his doing so was "Foolish, but his choice."
"This speech was an attempt to delegitimize the prosecution," Zagel said. "He saw (this) as a duel of some kind between himself and the U.S. Attorney. When Gurland mentioned his former attorneys comments (that were sometimes outrageous - that is my observation, not his) The Judge clarified and said he was speaking of "Only his."
Gurland said the more fantastic media appearances with Blagojevich flying around as a superhero and Patti eating a Tarantula on a reality show were only efforts to support the family.
"They were paid handsomely...they did not enjoy it...it allowed them to keep the girls in school and keep their family home," Gurland said.
Gurland said that Blagojevich suffered privately and this being strong publicly doesn't diminish his struggle.
I found the presentation by Goldstein and Sorosky to be flat and repetitive. Sorosky went over the convictions and kept repeating that they do not warrant a 15-20 year sentence. Goldstein cited cases that sometimes appeared to have no relevance and repeatedly made the point that seemingly worse offenses were given light sentences.
The most emotional part of the day came as laywers read letters - one written by Blagojevich to his daughter Amy who was away on a school trip. Another by Amy herself. She spoke about how her dad helps her with her homework and "life lessons."
"I need my father," Amy said. "I need him to be at my High School graduation. I'll need if do not get into college. I will need him when my heart gets broken and when my dog Skittle dies."
Patti wiped away tears as brother Rich comforted her.
Court ended with a letter by Patti saying how devastating it will be for Rod not to see the girls grow up and not to protect them from "a world what we know is a cruel world."
She ended asking the Judge to "be merciful and sentence him with the lowest the laws allows."
The Judge asked about a letter written by Rod's brother Robert and had questioned with respect to paragraphs 2,2, and 5. Aaron Goldstein asked for a sidebar - the judge said no. Goldstein only responded "I understand what Robert is saying, it doesn't excuse the conduct but explains it."
While we were not privy to what was conveyed in the letter, the impression I got from covering both trials is that there is no love lost between Robert and his brother.
Stay tuned today. Hoping to put information out on Twitter but the ceremonial courtroom has terrible reception. Will update during breaks and lunch.