Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Blagojevich Trial

Note: This was really written while the Blagojevich jury was out. I didn't post it then because I felt it was a little smug. Then I forgot about it. 


The criminal trial of former Illinois Rod Blagojevich is almost over. Currently a Federal jury is deliberating over the fate of Rodney. I know his lead attorney, Sam Adam Jr. Let me preface that, I know him from around the courthouse. But I have never hung out with him socially, although we did talk about having dinner back before this mess started.

Sam's father, known as Senior (Sr.) has been a Chicago criminal defense lawyer for over 3 decades. Everyone knows him. Well, everyone knows Jr. too. Sr. and Jr. were on the R. Kelly defense team but Jr. did most of the work. Everyone thought with the video evidence in that case, a guilty verdict was a sure thing. R. Kelly was found not guilty on all counts.

Understand that I didn't come up in the Chicago criminal justice system. I just showed up one day. I didn't know who anyone was. Last summer I was in the Bridgeview courthouse and heard a couple of PD's talking. Sam Adam Jr. was trying a case in room 104. Ok. Who the hell is Sam Adam Jr.? He was R. Kelly's attorney, I was told. I thought to myself, he might be worth watching. So I wandered over to room 104 and grabbed a seat.

The defendant was charged with possession with intent to deliver several grams of cocaine. I only saw Sam in action for about an hour. But I saw someone that knew how to connect to a jury. You couldn't take your eyes off of him and it was impossible not to listen to him.

I saw him teach the jury his theory of the case through his cross-examination of a couple of police officers. Then I watched him put his client on the stand and walk him through a direct that offered his client up as the real victim in the case.

I left before closing arguments. A week later I saw him. I walked up, introduced myself, and asked about that trial. What was the verdict? Not guilty, he told me. I wasn't shocked.

From then on, whenever we saw each other we exchanged hand shakes and pleasantries. He's about the most gregarious person I have ever met. And he's physically large, with massive hands.

A couple of months later I saw him at the main courthouse at 26th & California. He was about to start a murder jury trial. But he had co-counsel. I won't mention the other attorney's name, but he's another lawyer everybody knows. He dresses loudly and attracts attention to himself constantly.

I haven't really seen his co-counsel live in action much. I have watched him lose preliminary hearings right before I lost one. But I have never seen him litigate a motion or conduct a trial.

They lost that trial. Guilty on all counts. I didn't ever get a post-trial report from Sam so I don't know what happened.

At the beginning of last fall, I started asking Sam for advice here and there. By some divine intervention, I bumped into him immediately before my first jury trial last December. I was a wreck. I asked him if he had a couple of minutes. Absolutely, he said.

We sat outside the clerk's office in the Court's Administration Building that's adjacent to the main courthouse. I ran down my case factually. I told him my theory and strategy. I highlighted my weaknesses and how I planned to handle them. He gave me a couple of ideas for cross that I ended up using.

He told me it was going to be a not guilty. I can't explain how much that relaxed me. I went next door. I did the trial. And I got a not guilty. I saw Sam the next week. I told him about the verdict. He got this huge smile on his face that only Sam can make.

After the first of 2010, I did speak with him a few times about Rod's case. I knew nothing more than what was reported in the media. Franky, it's the type of crimes that hold no interest for me. I never felt that the former governor was likely doing things no one else did or does. Rod just made a very powerful enemy and the witch hunt was on.

I am not defending the former governor. I don't know the man. I haven't seen the evidence in this case. And I have barely followed it on the news. Again, it doesn't really interest me.

But I will say that Sam has played this case exactly how he told me he was going to back in January.

Without hearing one second of testimony in this case, I won't be shocked if it's not guilty across the board. If my butt was on the line, I know who I would want talking to my jury. And it ain't me. 

Now we wait.



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