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.