While there is a lot going on in the news today, I'm blowing out the column to talk about the closing argument of the Blagojevich defense. Eric Zorn wrote this morning
that he stood in line at the federal court building at 4:30am to ensure he got a seat for this show. And on the heels of yesterday's drama, Chicago is on the edge of its seat.
I must ask, have you ever seen so much fanfare for a closing argument? Maybe Johnnie Cochran? Family Secrets? Jason Robards from that Darwin movie?
Sam Adam Jr. shook the room with his stirring defense of R. Kelly. Can he do the same today? And if he does shake the room, what will the end result be? Will Blago get off? Perhaps unlikely you say, but what if his defense does something else: give us a hung jury.
That's right. No one is really talking about this, but the jury is being asked to make a series of decisions on very complex issues. And throughout, the prosecution had a hard time pointing to a smoking gun. Sure, the prosecution deluged the courtroom with reels of audio tape evidence but they also decided not to call a few star witnesses (Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine, most notably).‚ Then the defense team for Rod Blagojevich simply rested, giving the jury nothing.
Now, I've never been in the courtroom and perhaps the jury is much more focused than I, but still, you have to wonder if a complicated case with key incomplete moments might just make some jurors throw up their hands. All the defense needs, of course, is for one juror to do just that.
Both sides made some calculated gambles.‚ The defense argued about referencing evidence that wasn't submitted. Were there other tapes? The U.S. Marshals surrounded Blagojevich in the courtroom to make sure he wasn't glad-handing too much, thereby tampering with the jury. And earlier in the proceedings, defense attorneys asked for a mistrial because the some of the jurors they wanted to select were let go because they couldn't serve on a jury for a 3 month trial (the trial ended up being 6 weeks).
If the jury does come back hung, the Monday Morning Quarterbacking will really ensue - about this case and the strategies for a re-trial. You thought it was a circus today. Wait till everyone gets a do-over.
Paging Tony Rezko. Don't launder your suit just yet. There's a chance you might have to come downtown. And paging national news outlets: you might have to pay for another 6 weeks of rooms at the Hilton.
Can I add one last thing? This might be the best, engaging, entertaining and downright fascinating trial in the history of Chicago politics.