Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is in his element with a captive audience of 18 jurors, thirty or so media members and thirty or so common Joes. The scene is Judge Zagel's federal courtroom which is housing Blagojevich's trial sequel to the 2010 version which produced a hung jury on 23 counts of wire fraud, racketeering, extortion and bribery. At that trial, Blago was convicted of lying to the FBI, a felony which carries a sentence of one to five years, and Judge Zagel will decide how much prison time Blago will do for that indiscretion after this trial.
Hot Rod said he would testify at the first trial but he did not do so and the defense put on no case at that trial. In this sequel, the defense started putting on a case yesterday with Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Rahm Emanuel.and Rod was the first witness this morning.
Junior defense counsel Aaron Goldstein has taken Rod thru his paces for about two hours of direct examination-- and we are now on break for lunch. We started with Blagojevich telling the jurors, "I used to be a Governor," and "I'm happy to be here." Rod said he had waited 2 ½ years to get his story out and he now feels "very liberated." The jury has learned that Rod flunked drafting, took a lot of low paying summer or part time jobs, including working as a shoe shine boy, dishwasher and packaging clerk. Rod talked about facing a lot of adversity, including flopping at Little League baseball, getting TKOed in his second Golden Gloves fight, almost flunking out of Pepperdine law school, flunking the Illinois bar twice, having trouble doing competent legal research at a small law firm and dealing with the death of Elvis on August 16, 1977.
Rod started to cry (got verklempt) when he started to testify about meeting his wife, Patti Mell. The judge sent the jury out of the courtroom at that pont and then took a lunch break. "This is your life-Rod Blagojevich"--resumes at 1:40 pm, or so.