Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Defense lawyer to witness: "What does 'f--- 'em' mean?"

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Diving into John Wyma's testimony about an alleged shakedown of the roadbuilders' industry, defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky is asking a series of comical questions that try to pin-down the meaning of Rod Blagojevich's expletives.

Wyma testified that Blagojevich told him he wanted campaign contributions from the roadbuilders' industry in exchange for approving a $1.8 billion Illinois Tollway plan. Blagojevich, according to Wyma, said, "If they don't perform, f---- 'em."

Sorosky is asking whether Blagojevich specifically said he would hold up the plan if he didn't get contributions. That, Sorosky is implying, depends on Wyma's interpretation of the phrase, "f--- 'em." Sorosky tried to get Wyma to say that he and Blagojevich were just speaking among friends.

"First of all, 'f--- 'em,' it's a profanity, right?" asks Sorosky, only to be blocked by the prosecution.

He tries again: "Would you agree that 'f--- 'em' as an idiomatic expression?"

Judge James Zagel cut him off.

"Beyond his expertise," Zagel said. "You can call somebody to testify to this."

With that, laughter erupted in the courtroom, including most of the jury box.

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on May 16, 2011 11:12 AM.

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Blagojevich judge to defense: You're putting the government on trial is the next entry in this blog.

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