Illinois Public Media News
The judge in the Rod Blagojevich case says he will not give jurors a transcript of one of the closing arguments in the former governor's corruption trial.
Judge James Zagel says closing arguments are not evidence. He handed copies of the jury's note to prosecutors and defense attorneys before denying the request this morning.
Jurors are supposed to send notes if they want to ask the judge questions about legal issues or to notify him of other matters, like friction in the jury room.
Blagojevich and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, have pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama gave up when he became president and illegally pressuring people for campaign donations.
The judge has said he doesn't expect a quick verdict -- so it could be a long wait before former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother learn their fate.
Jurors in Chicago have begun deciding whether Blagojevich tried to sell a nomination to President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
During his lengthy instructions to jurors, the judge said they could make "reasonable inferences.'' And that could be important -- because prosecutors said in their closing arguments that Blagojevich never demanded money in exchange for something. Instead, they said, he merely implied it.
Prosecutors portrayed him as a greedy and smart political schemer who was determined to use his power to enrich himself.
But his attorney characterized him as an insecure bumbler who talked too much and had terrible judgment about which people to trust.
Rod Blagojevich's attorney is scheduled to give his closing argument Tuesday morning and the judge has already warned him that he could be held in contempt of court.
The warning came at the end of the day Monday.
Sam Adam Jr. told the judge that he planned to talk about the fact that jurors have heard all about Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine and yet the government never called either of them as witnesses.
Judge James Zagel said Adam should focus on the evidence that was presented, not the evidence and witnesses that weren't presented.
Zagel said, "You will not argue it.".
Adam told the judge he wouldn't follow the order at which point Zagel told Adam he'd be held in contempt.
Adam told the judge that he was ready to go to jail.
Zagel said Adam was showing a "profound misunderstanding of the legal rules."
He then adjourned for the day to give Adam time to reformulate his argument.
The corruption trial of former governor rod Blagojevich has come down to closing arguments, and a University of Illinois law professor says the success of either side depends on those arguments.
Last week Blagojevich's defense rested its case without bringing the ousted governor to the witness stand. Law professor Andrew Leipold says that's a common decision for defense attorneys, since defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and defenders don't think the prosecution totally proved its case. But Leipold still says he was surprised that Rod Blagojevich didn't testify since he and his lawyers had often said he would.
"I think most of what they were thinking is, 'Do we have anything to gain by exposing the governor not only to rebuttal evidence but to cross-examination?'" Leipold said. "Will he be able to articulate why it is that these tapes, that sure sound bad, really aren't that bad?"
Leipold says Blagojevich's attorneys will probably tell jurors that despite numerous phone conversations discussing potentially illegal acts, the ousted governor never took action. "To the extent the defense plan is going to be that the governor was blowing off steam, that he was just exploring possibilities but never intending to act on it...that's really important for the defense in closing, to help the jury reconcile the evidence they heard with that version of events," Leipold said.
The decision not to bring Blagojevich to the stand kept prosecutors from using two key former officials as witnesses. But Leipold says if prosecutors thought Tony Rezko or Stuart Levine were crucial to their case, they would have had them testify earlier in the trial.
Leipold says a lot rests on whether jurors see the prosecution's witnesses as credible - especially former chief of staff Lon Monk, who negotiated a plea deal in exchange for his testimony.
A preliminary hearing has been set for August 17th for Brian Maggio. At his arraignment Thursday in Urbana, the 42-year old appeared on closed circuit TV in court. Champaign County Judge Jeff Ford read the charges against him as he appeared in court via closed circuit television wearing a green gown, a protective garment worn by inmates correctional officers fear have suicidal tendencies. He was charged with 4 counts on first degree murder in the shooting death of his brother, 32-year old Mark Maggio. Each charge carries a sentence of 20 to 60 years, but because Maggio was using a handgun, he faces an additional 25 years to life if convicted.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Reitz says the defendant's and witnesses accounts differ - but that Mark Maggio did die at the scene of the parking lot of the Maggio's IGA supermarket. "The defendant took out the handgun and shot his brother," said Reitz. "Preliminary autopsy results indicate that the gunshot wound was to the side and back of the victim and that it was essentially one gunshot wound into him that ultimately caused his death."
Reitz says Brian Maggio made the initial 911 call and indicated that he had shot his brother. His bond has been set at $1-million.
Police say a quarrel between two brothers on Wednesday in Tolono has left one of them dead.
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh says officers arrested 42-year-old Brian Maggio of Savoy for the shooting death of his 42-year-old brother, Mark. The shooting occurred outside the IGA supermarket. Employees told police that the alleged shooter owned the IGA store, while his brother owned another IGA in Arcola.
The incident shocked residents of the small town, including Monical's Pizza founder Ralph Monical. "They're both usually two mild-mannered kids," said Monical. Champaign County Sheriff's investigators and Tolono Police spent Wednesday at the scene of the shooting. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday. Police declined to discuss a possible motive for the shooting and did not know if the arrested man had an attorney.
Rod Blagojevich's attorneys say the ousted Illinois governor will not testify at his corruption trial. They promptly rested the defense case this morning.
Blagojevich had long pledged to take the stand in his own defense, saying for months that he wanted to do so to set the record straight.
But his attorneys initially said Tuesday they could rest the case without calling a single witness. They confirmed that Wednesday. They say the prosecution did not prove its case.
Experts have said putting Blagojevich on the stand could be risky.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to scheming to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's old Senate seat and to scheming to launch a racketeering operation in the governor's office.
Rod Blagojevich's brother says a businessman claimed he could raise millions in campaign funds if Jesse Jackson Jr. were named to the Senate, but that he and the Illinois governor considered it "a joke.''
Robert Blagojevich testified Monday at the ousted governor's corruption trial. He said businessman Raghuveer Nayak told him that he could raise $1 million if the congressman was appointed to the seat Barack Obama was leaving to move to the White House.
Robert Blagojevich said Nayak said he could raise another $5 million eventually. But Robert Blagojevich said neither he nor his brother took the offer seriously. He said he told Nayak that Jackson was not going to be appointed.
Both Blagojevich brothers have pleaded not guilty to taking part in a scheme to sell the Senate seat.
Meanwhile, the federal judge presiding over Blagojevich's corruption trial has denied a motion from defense attorneys asking that the ousted Illinois governor be acquitted.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel on Monday refused to acquit Blagojevich and told attorneys to go ahead with the defense case. Zagel said he was basing his decision partly on the testimony in the prosecution's case and partly on the tone and manner in which witnesses answered the questions.
Defense attorneys often ask judges for such acquittals at the close of the prosecution case during a trial. The prosecution at the Blagojevich trial rested last week. Such motions are rarely granted.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan sat down with Illinois Public Media's Tom Rogers to discuss her office's new Silver Beat effort to combat fraud against senior citizens. But she also took time to talk about her reaction to wiretap tapes played in former Governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial naming her a a potential US Senate replacement for President Obama as Blagojevich considered the politics of the selection. Madigan also talks about financial reform legislation and a new nationwide consumer protection agency -- but says she'd rather see someone other than her get the job of heading it.
Champaign Police are looking for a dark green SUV driven by a bearded white male in his 40s, following a hit and run accident in the 500 block of Alabama on the city's north side Thursday afternoon.
According to a police department news release, witnesses report seeing the vehicle strike a six year old girl and flee the scene at around 4 PM.afternoon. The vehicle was last seen heading south on Harris Avenue. The child was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
The vehicle is described as possibly being a GMC Yukon or Ford Explorer model, with lumber extending from the rear driver's side window.
The driver is described as a white male in his 40's, with a full beard and dark hair wearing a blue t-shirt and blue jeans.
Anyone with information about this accident is asked to call Champaign Police at 217-351-4545.
Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS, through their website, or by texting Tip397 plus the information to CRIME (274637).
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