CHICAGO (AP) - Rod Blagojevich's fiery attorney will assume
center stage at his corruption trial Tuesday, when both the defense
and prosecutors are set to give their version of events that saw
the former governor charged with trying to sell or trade President
Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
Sam Adam Jr., only in his mid-30s, already has gained a
reputation as a theatrical courtroom orator whose shouting,
whispering, table-pounding closing argument preceded R&B singer R.
Kelly's acquittal on child pornography charges two years ago.
"Connect with the jury and tell the story," Adam told a
reporter Monday about one of his guiding rules of good opening
Brevity doesn't appear to be among the others. Adam told U.S.
Judge James Zagel the opening statement he planned to deliver
regarding the fraud and racketeering charges against Blagojevich
could run two and a half hours.
The no-nonsense Zagel, who has given the impression in three
days of jury selection that he doesn't want proceedings to drag on
unnecessarily, responded that he would give Adam an hour and 45
Prosecutors, in contrast, are expected to favor a
just-the-facts-ma'am style - laying out their arguments to jurors
as well as playing hours of wiretap recordings in cool, calm
They also expect to be comparatively succinct in their opening,
telling Zagel they would need about an hour to address the 12
jurors and several alternates, who are expected to be seated
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to trying to profit from
his power to fill the Senate seat. He also denies that he plotted
to turn his power as governor into a moneymaking scheme for himself
His co-defendant - and brother - Robert Blagojevich, 54, a
Nashville, Tenn., businessman, has pleaded not guilty to taking
part in the alleged plan to sell the Senate seat and plotting to
illegally squeeze a racetrack owner for a hefty contribution to the
Blagojevich campaign fund.
It was Adam's defense of R. Kelly that sent his stock soaring in
legal circles. Jurors appeared rapt as they listened to his
emotion-filled, apparently decisive closing. He banged on the
jury's box with his fist, he laughed and pleaded for jurors to
acquit his superstar client.
He said after court that he expected to be just as emotional and
energetic in his opening statement for Blagojevich.
"I don't know anything else," he said. "I'll be sweating,
I'll be moving."
That could offer a sharp contrast to federal prosecutor Carrie
E. Hamilton, a cool and methodical veteran prosecutor who
nevertheless opened the trial of Tony Rezko, one of Blagojevich's
top fundraisers, memorably by describing him as "the man behind
the curtain, pulling the strings." Rezko was convicted of fraud
and other offenses.
Lead prosecutor Reid Schar told Zagel that defense attorneys
have been telling reporters various theories of Blagojevich's
defense that violate orders the judge has already issued limiting
what jurors can be told. Such limits are normal and designed to
Schar warned that if defense attorneys go over the line he will
cut in immediately.
"If it heads in that direction, judge, obviously we will
object, Schar said.
Over the last three days, Zagel and the attorneys have whittled
away at the large jury pool, with Zagel dismissing potential jurors
on a variety of grounds. About 50 candidates remain. Zagel said he
plans to seat a jury Tuesday morning, with opening statements