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

Defense begins closing argument: 'They want you to believe his talk is a crime. It's not.'

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

With his voice hushed for effect, Rod Blagojevich's defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein started his closing argument by calling into question the testimony of government witnesses and chalking up Blagojevich's voice on tape to "a man thinking out loud."

"Let me see if I can sum up what they [the prosecution] just told you," Goldstein said. "You will get nothing and you will like it.' That's what they just told you. ... They want a rubber stamp. Stamp it guilty. Do what we say. That's who they think you are."

Jurors glared back at Goldstein.

Referring to his client repeatedly as "Rod," in contrast to the prosecution's repeated use of the term "the defendant," Goldstein says Blagojevich never took any money from the alleged shakedowns.

"He didn't get a dime, a nickel, a penny," Goldstein says, now screaming, and pointing across the room at Rod Blagojevich. "He talked and he talked and that is all he did. ... They want you to believe his talk is a crime. It's not."

Goldstein calls into question the parade of government witnesses, pointing out Johnny Johnston, an alleged victim of a shakedown, had an immunity agreement with the government. "Why?" asks Goldstein.

"Up means down, blue means green, stop means go," Goldstein said of witness testimony.

He also brings up Lon Monk's "gifts" Monk testified he received from Tony Rezko. Monk admitted taking $70,000 to $90,000 in secret cash from Rezko.

"What made it a gift? He put a bow on it?" asks Goldstein sarcastically as the defense puts up a picture of a FedEx envelope on the screen, then digitally throws a red bow on top of it. There's a few giggles in the courtroom.

The prosecution used the same testimony from Monk in its own closing to try and bolster Monk's credibility, saying Monk wouldn't have mentioned it, or would have implicated Blagojevich in the Rezko payoffs, if he were lying.

Blagojevich courageously took the stand, Goldstein says, which he didn't have to do.

"From that chair, he took a walk that looks pretty short. But it's a walk that took courage," he said.

That walk is "a whole lot different" than the walk of government witnesses from the door of the courtroom to the stand. Goldstein points repeatedly to the door, looking right at it to bring home this point when suddenly it opens. A spectator walks in. "Not her," Goldstein says in a light moment that has everyone in the courtroom laughing -- including jurors and even prosecutors.

Goldstein, who has been keeping his voice so low it's tough to hear him in the overflow room, reminds jurors that the government has the burden of proof in the case. The government said during its opening statement that it is happy to "embrace" the burden.

"They can embrace that burden like it's a long-lost relative," Goldstein says, voice still dripping with sarcasm. "It doesn't matter if they embrace it. They have to prove it. They have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."

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1 Comment

Looks like Goldstein is doing a great job too. But Rod.. he didn't (as Governor). If he did, he probably wouldn't be in that court room now.

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on June 9, 2011 12:29 PM.

Prosecution concludes closing argument: "Hold him to these words: 'The people come first. And no one is above the law.'" was the previous entry in this blog.

Defense lawyer on campaign contributions: 'We may not like the system, but that is politics' is the next entry in this blog.

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