BY NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporter
Saying it was more lawyers that he's ever appointed to a case, U.S. District Judge James Zagel agreed this morning to let ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich have three lawyers for trial and additional lawyers on contract for his trial preparation.
Zagel said he usually appoints one lawyer for a case.
The usual exception is a Death Penalty case. And those defendants get two lawyers, said.
The three will be appointed to the case and be paid through the campaign fund at the rate controlled by Zagel -- $110 an hour. When the $2.3 million Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund runs out of cash, the judge is likely to tap taxpayer dollars to bankroll the former governor's defense.
Zagel said he couldn't recall a case where he's appointed three lawyers. Even in death penalty cases, he's only appointed two, he said.
"I'm preparing to go to an ... exceptional number of lawyers and that is three," Zagel said. "I've never authorized more than two."
If Blago were paying for his defense from his own, personal money, he could have whatever number of lawyers he chose. But Blago says he's out of money and wants to tap the campaign fund -- something the government had opposed, or, at least wanted controlled.
On Friday, Blago's lawyers said it would take them 51 years to get through the 3 million documents and 400 hours of evidence the government had turned over.
Father and son team Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. are the likely additions to Shelly Sorosky, who is now the only official lawyer. The Adams were both in court today as "observers," but said they're likely to join the case.
The defense was hoping for four lawyers to be appointed-- with the fourth being veteran attorney Allan Ackerman.
Zagel said he'd consider a fourth lawyer for trial preparation only, someone who could oversee all of the evidence.
The time before trial is what's important, Sam Adam Sr. said.
"The trial is not the problem. It's the preparation for trial," he said.
He joked about adding Manny Ramirez to the trial team since he's got some time on his hands these days.
Said Sorosky: "We may have to put a lawyer on steroids just to do this."