Patterico's Pontifications

8/17/2010

Obligatory: Blago gets the Scooter Libby treatment; UPDATE: 11-1 Hang for Guilt

Filed under: General — Karl @ 3:10 pm



[Posted by Karl]

Rule Number One: Don’t talk to Fitz:

A federal jury found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on Tuesday of one count of lying to federal agents, and the judge said he intends to declare a mistrial on the remaining counts.

Prosecutors said immediately after the verdict was read that they intend to retry the case against Blagojevich and his co-defendant brother as soon as possible.

At least Blago won’t be collecting his public pension (iirc).

Nathan Wurtzel reminds me via Twitter: “I killed him, I killed him, I killed him dead.”

 Discuss amongst yourselves.

–Karl

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Looks like it was an 11-1 hang for guilt on the remaining counts.

All it takes is one crazy juror.

UPDATE BY KARL: It was 11-1 on the charge of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Obama, but the jury foreman adds that there were “often several holdouts on various counts.”

45 Responses to “Obligatory: Blago gets the Scooter Libby treatment; UPDATE: 11-1 Hang for Guilt”

  1. Question for anyone who has followed the trial more closely than I: Does anyone think that the prosecution threw the case by failing to produce certain witnesses?
    I don’t know one way or the other. Just askin’.

    either orr (58d2a4)

  2. I don’t think the case was thrown.

    Karl (8af070)

  3. Begs the question: How corrupt does someone need to be before he gets nailed for it?

    Icy Texan (4f3a8e)

  4. Does anyone think that the prosecution threw the case by failing to produce certain witnesses?

    No, but they seriously erred in not calling scumbags like Rezko to testify (making me wonder if he would implicate Rahm or the Big Kahuna, or Jesse Jr.), because most likely probably feared the defense making him look even more scumbaggy. But next time he’ll be on the stand, as will the others – and all of the tapes will be heard, like it or not. They won’t make the same mistake again, he’s still in deep sh-t.

    Karl, am I right here? I’d like your take on what they’ll do differently next time.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  5. More specifically…

    How corrupt does someone in CHICAGO need to be before he gets nailed for it?

    Christian (0c55b5)

  6. ^not very, since another jury convicted George Ryan on less evidence, if memory serves. And yet another jury convicted Daley’s former patronage chief on even lesser evidence than Ryan’s. I think one douchebag decided to be the brave lone holdout for his favorite scumbag governor – or he’s a senior citizen who just lurves him some free rides on the CTA.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  7. Prosecutor Fitzgerald is a product of the Chicago political machine. My guess is that this trial would have had a completely different outcome had Blago been a Republican.

    Sorry, but I now have approximately zero faith in our legal system, which, as my memory serves, was once a “justice” system.

    GaryS (8351a3)

  8. What I get from these convictions (Blago, M. Stewart, Libby, etc.) is that you should never, ever say one word to a federal investigator. Lawyer up immediately, regardless.

    Hank Archer (17792e)

  9. Blago was not acquitted on any of the remaining 23 charges. The jury couldn’t reach a decision. Fitz is not looking too good IMHO.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  10. Dmac,

    I would guess that FitzCo will try to talk to jurors to get a sense of what they need to do differently on retrial.

    GaryS,

    Fitzgerald is not a product of the Chicago political machine. He was based in NYC and appointed at the insistence of then-GOP Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (no relation). The Chicago political machine — and a fair number of old-line GOPers — were dismayed by his appointment, precisely because he did not come from IL and thus no one in IL had dirt on him.

    Karl (12dcea)

  11. Karl is correct. Fits was a career prosecutor in the SDNY on the terrorism team when hecwas nominated to br the US Attorney I Chicago for the very specific reason that he was not connected to the Chicago political machine.

    Has anyone seen any reporting yet on how the jury stood on the hung counts?

    Shipwreckedcrew (3e3596)

  12. Do not feel bad for Blago. Do not feel that like Libby he was railroaded or persecuted. Please do not blame Fitzgerald for the hung jury. Blago will be retried and it will be much worse for him the second time around. Perhaps there will be fewer counts and perhaps the prosecution will be simplified. But they will get him.

    Blago’s angry posturing this evening on TV has been nauseating. From hearing him and his sleazy lawyers talk one would think that he had been falsely accused and now completely exonerated and found innocent on all charges–instead of being given the gift of a juror or two who were unconvinced or sympathetic to his national TV hooey and were therefore unable to reach a verdict.

    elissa (0ddc7b)

  13. “Please do not blame Fitzgerald for the hung jury.”

    elissa – I do blame him for exactly some of the things you mention. Too many counts (11 pages of instructions for the jury)and too complex, not much of a money trail, not putting perhaps some more damaging witnesses on the stand.

    Didn’t Fitz also overpromise and underdeliver in the Conrad Black trial?

    daleyrocks (940075)

  14. Isn’t lying to the cops a right that preceded the Constitution? There needs to be a difference between “under oath” and otherwise.

    Sure, it might cause the authorities some difficulty and all, but on careful consideration, tough cookies. People lie and not everything needs to be criminalized. There are enough felonies on the books that we are likely all guilty of one of them.

    Then again, he’s a Chicago politician, so lock him up. Lock them all up.

    Kevin Murphy (73dcc9)

  15. Hmmm…Interesting. Is this unusual ?

    Earlier today, the jury sent out a note indicating it might be getting close to concluding its deliberations.

    In the note, jurors asked for two things: a copy of the oath they took when they were sent to deliberate; and instructions from the judge on how to fill out a verdict form when they can’t agree on a specific count.

    Jeff S. (b15751)

  16. Daley, I did not follow the Conrad Black case that closely so I really cannot address the prosecution’s tactics or failures. I will bow to your knowledge of that case.

    With respect to the Blago case, clearly the prosecution did not sufficiently make its case, and as more is learned from the jury we will better understand what went wrong and how many jurors were unconvinced. What I was reacting to is that I think I see a lot of commenters here and elsewhere who despise Fitz from the Libby case and sort of make all their judgments about him on that basis. I am more or less a Fitz fan because of a number of the cases he has brought in Illinois that I just don’t think would have been attempted by most of the previous US Attorneys here who were inured in the Chicago political system. And the day Blago did his perp walk and was impeached were both good days.

    I doubt that Fitz solely made the government’s decisions on how the Blago case would be presented and about who should testify, and I have heard that the judge’s instructions to the jury may have been overly complicated. Finally, if the government’s case was so flawed, then why didn’t Blago’s lawyers take advantage of it. Why did they not even attempt a defense that might have resulted in an aquittal rather than a hung jury which has disappointed pretty much everybody. Just my view.

    elissa (0ddc7b)

  17. The problem with the Black case –and the Skilling Enron case — was the “honest services mail fraud” statute.

    Shipwreckedcrew (3e3596)

  18. Fitzgerald is smug, self-righteous, recklessly destructive, and as we now realize, monumentally incompetent. How sweet that the man who made Scooter Libby’s life a living hell has now been ass-whupped and humiliated by a Chicago jury. The putz.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  19. “a lot of commenters here and elsewhere who despise Fitz from the Libby case and sort of make all their judgments about him on that basis.”

    elissa – I think there was a lot of prosecutorial overreach in the Libby trial. I think Fitz lied to the Supreme Court during the course of that process in order to move things his direction. I think his overreach continued with the Black trial.

    I have not followed the other Illinois cases, so you have me there.

    With respect to the Blago defense, if you don’t think the prosecution has proved its case, exposing witnesses to hostile questioning is risky, so I don’t see it as a mistake. Personally, I wanted to see helmet head in the gray bar hotel for a long time and to take a few others with him, but we’ll have to wait a while.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  20. Thanks for doing a post, Karl! I actually went so far as to put something up before I saw yours — just to give people a place to comment about it. I deleted it the second I saw this.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  21. Blago will get 10 years. his hairpiece will get 20.

    Aaron Worthing (f97997)

  22. Anyone notice the throw away line from “Benson” in that clip?

    He complained that “my daughter is dating a Republican”…..and it was supposed to be a laugh line.

    gahrie (ed7a50)

  23. Not only did the GOP here (part of the Dem/GOP Combine) detest Senator Fitzgerald’s appointment of the first independent prosecutor for IL, Karl Rove appealed personally on behalf of that scum to get Fitzgerald to appoint another machine hack. The GOP was so incensed that they made it abundantly clear to the Senator that not only would they not support his re – election bid (which I believe he would have won, based on his performance in office), they would silently back his opponent in the general election. Anything to keep the spoils of this state going their way – Fitzgerald promptly retired after his term was up, our poor benighted state’s been much worse off as a result.

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  24. Daley,

    I agree that there was prosecutorial over-reach in the Libby case. I should have made that more clear in my previous comment. Lying to the Supreme Court? I guess I’ll have to think a bit on that one.

    elissa (0ddc7b)

  25. 11-1 for guilt. See the update.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  26. All it takes is one crazy paid-off juror.

    FTFY!

    Icy Texan (4f3a8e)

  27. I’ve updated again. Feeling almost Greenwaldian.

    Karl (12dcea)

  28. Blago spent a lot of time courting the Chicago jury pool, especially blacks. I’m afraid to ask.

    Mike K (d6b02c)

  29. His statements to the press were puke-inducing.

    JD (3dc31c)

  30. Hey, if the Chicago Machine can’t get at least one of theirs on the jury the world would end. What is funny is the juror all agreed that politicians lie. BFD.

    cedarhill (4da80d)

  31. In case anyone wants a summary of our esteemed scumbag former Governor’s performance after the trial last evening, here you go:

    – black kids dying on the streets yet they go after me?

    – I’m being persecuted – a lot like Jesus Christ, when you think about it.

    – the prosecution’s got NUTHIN! NUTHIN, I TELLS YA!

    – just like black people in Chicago, The Man is going after me for no reason other than they’re some kind of racists, don’t ask me how!

    – TOP OF THE WORLD, MA! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Dmac (d61c0d)

  32. Patterico,
    Is there any way out of this problem of the lone holdout phenomenon? I have seen it more than once…

    Patricia (358f54)

  33. Retrial, Patricia, or a conviction standard less than unanimous.

    I am pretty shocked by this case. The evidence of bribe seeking was ironclad, imo, and I wonder if focusing on that would have worked a lot better than complicating the case with this kitchen sink approach.

    then again, easy for me to say that.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  34. In case you’re interested. Somewhat conflicting info so far on the primary “holdout juror”. Little doubt she is a retired state employee–probably Illinois Dept. of Public Health administrator. Some reports say she is black. Some say white.

    Sidenote–as local, state, and federal government continues to grow, more and more future juries will be filled with government employees and pensioners. Any thoughts on that?

    elissa (b7beb9)

  35. Fitzgerald IS NOW from Chicago. Lay down with pigs, get dirty. This is even more true in Washington DC.

    GaryS (8351a3)

  36. I’m not going to blame a prosecutor for throwing a case. If that was his intent, I hardly think 11 out of 12 jurors would have gone for more serious convictions.

    Not a Fitzgerald fan by any stretch. Just sayin’

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  37. gahrie,

    Guillaume’s throwaway line about his daughter dating a Republican was indeed a punchline, because the boy was portrayed as otherwise an ideal kid. The laugh is on the character’s own partisan prejudice. In fact, I prefer Sorkin’s Sports Night to the West Wing because all of the characters in the former are basically liberals, and are thus more honest when they talk politics among themselves.

    Karl (6f26cc)

  38. I moved my lawyers card to the front of my wallet to remind me to stfu… I’m a nightmare if I get started.

    I do not recall

    SteveG (5641e3)

  39. Just four points and I will shut up on this densely complex outcome:

    1. If you have actually spent any serious time in the conduct of jury trials, then you are quite familiar with the fact that a significant percentage of our population holds to a wide range of very strange thinking processes that do not appear to greatly interfere with the ability to survive and function in society, and that the typical jury pool contains somewhere between a few to a lot of these folks. As a rule of thumb, the prosecution looks to seat jurors who are invested in maintaining the social fabric, and the defense works in hopes of seating at least some more likely to identify with the client on trial. In my own experience, just the second trial I was on resulted in two jurors being sent home several weeks into the trial due to mental health problems (one consciously hidden in a misguided effort at self-therapy, the other apparently triggered by dwelling on the subject matter of the case). That sort of situation recurred so often, I began to look for ways to lessen or increase its occurrence — and found an entire cottage industry on it.
    In one trial a few years back, I managed to get nine jurors seated each of whom fell into a pool indicating a greater than equal chance of some sort of mental issue that could encourage holding out for not guilty; yet that did not guarantee anything, it just increased the odds. I expect other trial lawyers can report even greater success at this, but that was my high water mark. Now look, for example, at the folks who acted at trial for Blago. This same crew succeeded in getting an acquittal for R. Kelly on some unbelievably awful facts.

    2. Like in the Libby case, Blago sent out a lot of false signals that he would testify. Libby did it through his lawyers, who even the trial judge said actively misled the court on this point. Blago did it on TV talk shows and talk radio. In both instances the prosecution held back difficult witnesses for rebuttal. There are sound reasons for proceeding this way: you definitely do not want the case turning on the credibility of the dirty things your dirtiest witnesses did and the arguably dirty deals you made with them; but once the defendant hits the stand and you can hit him between the eyes with the dirty things he has done, those become non-issues; indeed, the very fact the defendant had dealings with such nasties can be enough to close the deal with the jury.

    3. In the Libby case, Fitzgerald opened for the prosecution, he examined a number of witnesses (not all), he spoke last among the prosecution team in the closing, and he was otherwise a ubiquitous presence.

    Not so in Blago. We cannot even say that he was the one who made the call to arrest Blago before he actually succeeded in auctioning off the Obama senate seat or taking it himself, out of concern that otherwise there would be an intractable constitutional problem (The problem that ensued was ugly enough, but not as bad as it could have been, and certainly not intractable.) In the normal course of events, such a high profile decision would have to be deferred to the AG — who at the time was Mukasey. It is likely that referral came with a recommendation, and it is possible Mukasey defaulted to that recommendatio; but we do not know, and that is a fact. All we know otherwise it that in the normal course of events the U.S.A. would have approved of the arrest, the indictment and the trial team; otherwise, his involvement would have been occasional. This would have applied pretty much to the prosecution of Conrad Black as well.

    The fact is that the office Fitzgerald runs is a big, busy office with many prosecutor and an unusually heavy case load of large, complex cases.

    4. This result makes it that much more likely that Blago will be toasted on the retrial. For a number of years I specialized in re-trials (quite a niche market). The rule of thumb is that the prosecution greatly benefits from the prior run and the defense ends up severely limited. And the odds are against going two consecutive trials with someone on the jury with weird mental processes.

    shooter (32dc25)

  40. I say err on the side of brevity.

    JD (1ecb57)

  41. I didn’t follow Blago closely, but between this and the Walker/stay thread I got much insider info, so thanks. When y’alls debate the finer legal points, it tends to fill out topics which we civilians can only try to weigh in on (although as taxpayers we’re still part of the stew).

    I was a little shocked to hear Rod crowing afterward. Boy, was he puffing his chest out or what. I guess I expected he’d be a little subdued, not play his usual role. But he was really over the top. Don’t know what twists & turns are next… seems a little early to gloat. Hopefully some audio will come out…. and next time, put the westwing thugs on the stand, please.!

    Vermont Neighbor (91ed50)

  42. shooter, that’s fascinating. The entire subject of juries is really fascinating to me. I’ve never been invited, but I’d love to serve on a jury for a serious case, just to experience this aspect of our system.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  43. If the 9th can invalidate the Stolen Valor Act under 1st-A grounds,
    how can you be convicted of lying to the FBI who normally don’t record their interviews, and rely on handwritten notes?
    Freedom of Speech, is Freedom of Speech is it not?

    AD - RtR/OS! (4228f5)

  44. а вы как от спама защищаетесь?

    Kajilrajasy (f7c1ec)

  45. Oh yeah ?! Well take that!

    Осатанелая обезьяна спала с большой собакой и солнце было меньш чем 4.

    JD (3dc31c)


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