Monthly Archives: July 2010

Blagojevich Jury Begin Deliberations

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The jury, still including the alternates, is instructed by Judge Zagel. On the right is one of the government’s evidence carts that will go into the jury room.

Tribune story here

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“More of a Show than a Closing Argument”

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That is how Judge Zagel described the rambling, theatrical performance of Rod Blagojevich’s lead attorney, Sam Adam, Jr., as he tried to refute the government’s case against his client.

Tomorrow, after instructions by the judge, the jury will begin deliberations.  And we will wait.

NYT story here.

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High Drama at Blago Closings

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After a long day of closing arguments by the government that started with Asst. US Attorney Chris Niewoehner citing the famous “I’ve got this thing and it’s F***n golden” quote,
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and where the only new news was that the Blagojevichs had brought their two young daughters to court, all hell came near to breaking loose at the end.

When Judge Zagel told Rod Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr, that he wouldn’t be allowed to argue that the government didn’t call some witnesses because their testimony would have been helpful to the defense, Adam said that, with all due respect he wouldn’t follow the judge’s order.  Zagel threatened contempt, and Adam shot back “I’m willing to go to jail for this, your honor.  I cannot follow your order on this.”

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It is now unclear whether Sam Adam Jr will be making the closing argument tomorrow for the former governor.

Chicago Tribune Blog here.

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20 year-old ‘South Park’ Critic and Taliban Wannabe

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How Zachary Adam Chesser, who grew up in suburban Fairfax County, played football and rowed crew at his High School, came to espouse a fundamentalist Islamic ideology is not yet clear, but he was so greatly offended at an episode of South Park that supposedly showed Muhammad in a bear costume ( turns out it’s really Santa in the bear costume ) that he issued “warnings” on his website.

Chesser came to the attention of authorities when he attempted to board a flight to Uganda July 10.  He admitted that he was on his way to try to join an al-Shabab training camp.

Note to parents : if your teen is offended by South Park, it’s time to worry.

WaPo story here.

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Blagojevich Suddenly Mute

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After months of proclaiming his eagerness to take the witness stand and tell his side of the story to the jurors Rod Blagojevich was silent as one of his lawyers, Sheldon Sorosky,  stood up and told Judge Zagel “the defense rests”.

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Always upbeat, Blagojevich was signing autographs for spectators in the courtroom during a short break.

Sun-Times story here.

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Couple Who Spied for Cuba Sentenced

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Kendall Myers expressed no regret as he addressed Judge Reggie Walton at yesterday’s sentencing hearing saying the couple never sought payment from the Cuban government.  “Our overriding objective was to help the Cuban people defend their
revolution,” he said. “We share the ideals and dreams of the Cuban
revolution.” He went on to invoke Nelson Mandela as he boasted about the opportunity prison has given him to educate the African-American population there.

Judge Walton was unimpressed.  “If you believed in the revolution,” he
said, “you should have defected.”

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Harvey pointed out that although money was not the motive, the adventure and risk-taking were incentive enough. He quoted Kendall Myers as saying to his wife, Gwen, in the presence of an undercover FBI agent that it would be “fun” to resume their espionage activities. The couple also received medals from Cuba, and had a private meeting with Fidel Castro in 1995.

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Kendall Myers got life. Gwendolyn was sentenced 81 months with credit for time served.  A financial judgment of $1.7 million, representing the total amount of salary Mr. Myers received while working at the State Department, was also entered.

WaPo story here.

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Russian Spy Ring

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Three members of the alleged Russian spy ring who resided in Arlington appeared very briefly -about three minutes- in U.S. District Court, Alexandria yesterday for detention hearings that were postponed. Pictured above is Mikhail Semenko standing before Magistrate-Judge Buchanan.  The other two, Patricia Mills and Michael Zottoli, are pictured below.

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Their detention hearing has been rescheduled for this afternoon.

I had such a short time to sketch them yesterday that I expect when I see them again in court today they will appear quite different to me.

WaPo story here.

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