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

Judge to Blagojevich defense: 'This is an abusive cross-examination'

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After having to repeatedly object as defense lawyers questioned key witness Lon Monk this morning, the prosecution has had enough.

"Judge, we've been paying attention," prosecutor Reid Schar told U.S. District Judge James Zagel before the jury re-entered the courtroom after lunch. "There are certain jurors who are actually writing down his questions."

Zagel spent the morning repeatedly blocking Monk's answers because he said the questions were out of bounds, not factual, in violation of his rulings or outside the scope of the prosecution's direct examination.

Schar added that, to defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky's credit, the method may be working: the jurors could be considering the questions even though Monk hasn't answered them.

Schar said the prosecution doesn't like cutting off lawyers but doesn't feel like Sorosky's questions should be heard by the jury. He called this position "impossible" for prosecutors and asked the judge to instruct jurors, for the second time, that questions by lawyers aren't evidence and they can't consider them. He also asked Zagel to tell jurors that they can't consider all the sustained objections Sorosky's piling up.

"What you're doing is, you're making this argument in the form of questions, and you've done it persistently and you did it in the last trial, so I'm going to give this instruction," Zagel told defense lawyers. "This is an abusive cross-examination."

If Sorosky continues, Zagel said he'll cut him off --- but added that he'll excuse the jurors first so he doesn't embarrass the lawyers in front of them. Sorosky asks if he can just make a comment on Zagel's ruling; the judge swiftly replied, "No."

"I don't want to hear you speak about it," he said. "I want to see you follow it."

After that thumping, Sorosky walked back to the defense table and handed Rod Blagojevich a copy of his question sheet. After Zagel issued the instruction to the jury to disregard questions and objections, Monk is back on the stand and Sorosky is once again racking up objections.

The courtroom can't help but laugh as Sorosky struggles. Even Monk smiled at one point as he waited for Sorosky to phrase a successful question.

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8 Comments

Jan...sorry it's taken so long....

one uses objections to harass if one must. Obviously it's working, since the prosecution is jumping up and down like "first-year law students." (when does this annoying blather begin?)

...where is it written about which questions are or aren't "argumentative?" It's in the judge's mind...his (un)objective opinion. Who cares if you're arguing with a hostile witness? You're supposed to treat them with kid gloves because they're not on trial? or because they have full immunity?

"Properly" sustaining: this judge is completely in the prosecutors' corner...ergo the "properly" serves only to buttress their case.

Are there some decent judges in the USA, too? Seems this one is an affront to the court and the citizens. Apart from the case itself.

An attorney who has been practicing for 40+ years and doesn't know how to formulate a question that is legally proper is a hack.He doesn't know the difference between a question that is argumentative and a proper legal question. His performance is nothing short of embarrassing, it has nothing do with the judge, who is properly sustaining objections to questions a first-year law student would know are improper.

Jan: you don't know what you're talking about when you call Sheldon Sorosky a "hack." He always tried cases. He was always in the company of fellow criminal trial attorneys. If anyone is a "hack", it's that judge pretending he knows how to try a case. He can't write fiction, he couldn't try a case, he got his position because of someone he knew (certainly not because he's some sort of exceptional scholar), and he cannot control himself.

Sorosky is a joke. He is a political hack who has been connected to Blago for years. Now that Blago has no money left for good attorneys, he is left with Sorosky. Blago gets what he deserves.

Way to go Sorosky. We can't wait until you call Jesse Jackson Jr to the stand!

Great Job! Sheldon Sorosky!

"WAY TO GO SHEL!"

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on May 18, 2011 1:55 PM.

Blagojevich lawyer hammers witness for pocketing Tony Rezko cash was the previous entry in this blog.

Witness Lon Monk tells judge he knew what he was doing was illegal is the next entry in this blog.

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