Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch
A fiery clash between Rod Blagojevich's lawyer and judge broke out at the end of court, with the judge threatening to hold Sam Adam Jr. in contempt of court if he didn't abide by his ruling and Adam later vowing to go to jail over the dispute.
The jury was out of the room when the clash happened. It ultimately sidetracked the trial for the day and it's back on tomorrow morning.
Zagel told Adam he could not tell jurors in his closing argument that the government had refused to call 35 witnesses named in the indictment, including Tony Rezko, Bill Quinlan and Stuart Levine.
"I don't want to get into the classic mode that if the facts are against you and the law is against you, then attack the opposing lawyer. That's all you're doing," Zagel said. "The fact is, you cannot draw an evidentiary inference from the fact a witness was not called by the other side when you had an equal right to call them."
"I have been more deferential," Adam responded, "but with all due deference to the court, I have a man here who's arguing for his life ... I can't effectively represent this man ... I can't follow this order."
"You will follow this order, because if you don't you will be in contempt of court," Zagel shot back.
Zagel said he would send the jury home for the day and give Adam time to rework his closing.
"I can understand, given your profound misunderstanding of the legal rules, perhaps you're not prepared to argue," the judge said. "It may be possible for you to designate another lawyer to argue for your client if you're incapable of following my rulings."
After the sidebar, Adam came back to the defense table and put some items into a briefcase. Rod Blagojevich walked over to him and the two shook hands and exchanged words.
The judge has adjourned court for the day. We will reconvene at 9:30 tomorrow with the rest of the closing arguments.
After court, Sam Adam Jr. said said he would go to jail "in a heartbeat" if that's what it takes. "I have no qualms of going to prison if that's what's best," he said outside.
Asked if he thought the judge was fair, Adam Jr. turned and smiled.
"You know I can't answer that. But I think you know the answer," he said.