Thursday, April 14, 2011

Only 6 more days ‘til Blagojevich 2

How does one react when they agree with someone in theory, but can’t help but think that the person is behaving like such a maroon that he’s undercutting the legitimacy of his viewpoint?
BLAGOJEVICH: Oh, be quiet!

Because that is what I can’t help but think these days about Rod Blagojevich, who is only six days away from the beginning of his second trial (Milorod, the Sequel) in U.S. District Court on criminal charges related to the way he handled himself as Illinois governor.

FOR THE RECORD, Rod is peeved at the federal prosecutors who earlier this week filed a motion asking the judge to forbid Blagojevich or his attorneys from making any statements in court that imply the audio recordings of federal wiretaps are somehow being taken out of context – and that if prosecutors would play the recordings in their entirety, it would prove his innocence of all charges.

Of course, prosecutors would never play all those tapes. Aside from the fact that there is more than 500 hours of raw recordings (this trial will last way too long as it is), there also is the fact that trials are not about proving innocence.

They’re about proving guilt, and a failure by prosecutors to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” is what results in a “not guilty” verdict. The judicial process is about putting people away, with acquittal coming at times almost by accident.

Anyway, prosecutors made their request on Monday, arguing that because they do not believe the playing of any more wiretaps would change the evidence, Blagojevich should be forbidden to even imply to jurors that anything is being withheld from them.

IN SHORT, BECAUSE he’s not willing to just admit his guilt and claim to be an incredibly awful excuse for humanity, Blagojevich is the problem. It is because of attitudes like this that are too common among some prosecutors (mostly at the federal level, but also at the Criminal Courts building) that I always have some sense that the defendant might not be a total scumbag.

It’s like the federal prosecutors want this case rigged entirely in their favor to produce the verdict of massive “guilty” findings to those 20 counts. Some prosecutor somewhere is disappointed that he didn’t get the “guilty” verdict when Blagojevich was on trial last year.

For all I know, that person thinks the only real injustice in this whole situation is that Blagojevich isn’t already serving a prison sentence – mainly because those prosecutors tossed out so much rhetoric in the first trial that instead of intimidating prosecutors into thinking they should just vote “guilty” and go home, they confused them into indecision.

So I don’t blame Blagojevich these days for being peeved about his legal predicament.

BUT I’M NOT sure I would have handled the situation the way he did on Wednesday.

Timing his event for the early evening local television newscasts (I watched on WMAQ-TV) so he could appear live, Blagojevich insisted on screaming out a denunciation of federal prosecutors in, “challenging the government to join me, … to help me to get the truth out” about his situation.

If the legal motion requested by prosecutors says he cannot have his attorneys argue that there is legitimate evidence being unheard, then Blagojevich was determined to make the claim for himself, while standing on the steps of his Ravenswood neighborhood home.

I’m not going to say that Blagojevich came off as irrational as then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace when he stood in the doorway of a schoolhouse to prevent racial integration (by the same federal government that now wants to put Milorod in prison for a few years).

BUT I CAN’T help but think that many people who saw (or heard, radio broadcast-types also were present for) this diatribe came away with the impression of, “this guy’s nuts!”

For all I know, Blagojevich standing near the doorway of his house may seem as irrational as Wallace did all those decades ago when he insisted on making the statement that set his legacy in stone for all eternity.

That impression is going to overwhelm the fact that Blagojevich couldn’t help but bring up the names “Rahm Emanuel” and “Jesse Jackson, Jr.” into the conversation during his three-minute rant.

Not that either man could sue him for slander, and not just because they’re both public figures. Blagojevich is claiming that since neither man is accused of wrongdoing for their contact with him, it means his conduct shouldn’t be considered illegal.

 IT’S A BACK-HANDED compliment that is meant to besmirch those officials – who by now are safe from any political taint they would acquire from any testimony that comes up during the sequel trial.
Will this be Blagojevich in coming weeks?

I also couldn’t help but be offended at Blagojevich reminding people that he was once an assistant state’s attorney. “I used to be a prosecutor,” he said. “It isn’t the job of a prosecutor to win at all costs.”

That is true. But it also isn’t the job of a defendant to act like a loon, thereby confirming in many minds the suspicions of prosecutors that Blagojevich’s comments need to be restricted.

Blagojevich has created a situation where, for all I know, a majority of the public would probably approve if the judge went ahead and gave him the “Bobby Seale” treatment during his upcoming trial


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