by Aimee Levitt
Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who, for the past year and a half, has been proclaiming his innocence to anyone who will listen (and even some who don't care), has decided to hold his tongue, for once.
Blago announced his intention earlier this week to testify at his own corruption trial, but late last night reversed his decision. The defense rested its case this morning without input from the loquacious erstwhile Celebrity Apprentice contestant and sometime-Elvis impersonator.
"He's a loose cannon," criminal-defense attorney Joseph Lopez told the Chicago Tribune. "They'll ask, 'What did you mean when you said '(expletive) the people of Illinois?' How's he going to answer that? He'll get creamed."
"It's the smartest decision the defendant has made in the past year," added Jeffrey Cramer, a former assistant U.S. attorney and now head of the corporate investigations firm Kroll in Chicago.
Blago's team made its decision based on the assumption that if the former governor testified on his own behalf, the prosecution would call on Tony Rezko, a convicted former fundraiser, to explain how he helped Blagojevich scheme to leverage President Obama's old Senate seat into personal wealth. Since his conviction, Rezko has been cooperating with the government.
The defense did not call a single witness during the trial. Blago's lawyers told reporters that they felt the governor's less-verbose brother Robert, who testified earlier on his own behalf, made an effective spokesman for the whole family.
The truncated trial means that the former governor's wife, Patti, will have less time to catch up on her reading. Patti Blagojevich shares her husband's fondness for English literature, but while Rod prefers poetry, Patti favors mysteries. She told the Associated Press yesterday that during slow parts of the trial, she has been reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle on her cell phone.
Notes the AP: "The fictional, pipe-smoking detective also appeared in a defense motion seeking Blagojevich's acquittal. Lawyers cited Doyle's caution against twisting facts to suit theories rather than the other way around."
Patti also confided a fondness for the works of Jane Austen, that bastion of civility. She did not mention what she was reading during the part of the trial last week when the prosecution played tapes of her screaming obscenities at the Tribune Company and the Chicago Cubs. "Why should you do anything for those (expletives)?"