Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blagojevich hearing today could answer question over lawyers

The retrial of Rod Blagojevich could look decidedly different from the first go-around if the bombastic father-and-son team of Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr. drop off the case, as the former governor's lead lawyers have hinted since last week.

Both Adams have suggested they want out of a repeat performance, with the younger one telling attorneys in the case that it's time for him and his father to move on, according to sources.

Sheldon Sorosky, another Blagojevich lawyer who could remain on a reduced two-member defense team, said Wednesday he believes the younger Adam, whom he described as a "legal Michelangelo," may struggle to find the energy to tackle the mammoth task again. Adam's closing argument was marked by loud and passionate pleas, a flurry of government objections and even an apology for sweating on a juror.

Some answers could become apparent Thursday as U.S. District Judge James Zagel holds the first public status hearing since the trial ended last week, with the jury convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI about his knowledge of political fundraising but deadlocking on all the other 23 counts.

"I believe that (Adam) believes he gave it his all and he did his very best, and he doesn't know if he could help the governor in the same way the next time around," Sorosky said.

"But you never know if he came back in a more casual way, and then he gets a fire in the belly and then he's ready to go again," said Sorosky, explaining that Adam may just need time to recharge. "Time is a factor here too. We might be able to give it a few months and see."

Adam has been quiet about his status in recent days and was not available Wednesday for comment. There were doubts that he would even show up Thursday for the court status.

Blagojevich, who has been on yet another media blitz in the wake of the trial's largely inconclusive end, is not expected to attend the hearing either. But prosecutors, other lawyers for the former governor and Blagojevich's brother, Robert, are scheduled to be there to discuss the logistics of Round Two.

"The primary purpose (for the hearing) is to set a new trial date," Sorosky said. "Then, as in any retrial situation, the second purpose -- which this time may eclipse the first -- is the lawyer situation."

In a private conference last week with attorneys in the case, Zagel said he expects the former governor to be allowed just two lawyers for the retrial.

Blagojevich, who had seven attorneys for the first trial, has tapped out his $2.7 million campaign fund, which under Zagel's supervision was used to pay his legal fees. Rules under the Criminal Justice Act allow a defendant whose defense is paid for with taxpayer funds to have no more than two lawyers.

None of the members of Blagojevich's current defense team has yet to formally seek to withdraw as counsel in the case. If the Adams indeed leave, Sorosky said it's unclear to him who will lead the defense at the retrial. Zagel has told the attorneys he might favor the next trial starting in January.

By Jeff Coen

Source: Chicago Breaking News

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