updated 5/2/2011 3:38:35 PM ET 2011-05-02T19:38:35

A rematch that pits ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich against the U.S. government begins in earnest as the courtroom adversaries will deliver their opening statements to jurors Monday — eight months after Blagojevich's first corruption trial ended with a hung jury.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

Before opening arguments were expected to begin in the afternoon, attorneys and a judge made the final selection of the 12 jurors and six alternates. They include a teacher, a librarian, a retired director of music at a Catholic church and a video store employee who likes to watch Judge Judy on television.

In their openings, prosecutors were certain to paint a picture of the twice-elected governor as steeped in sleaze and driven by greed.

Story: Potential jurors already think Blagojevich guilty

Defense attorneys are likely to concede Blagojevich could be crude and profane, but they'll also insist he never crossed the line into criminality.

Blagojevich's first trial last summer ended with jurors deadlocked on all but one count. This time, Blagojevich, 54, faces 20 charges — from attempted extortion of a children's hospital executive to conspiracy to commit bribery in a bid to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat in exchange for campaign cash or a well-paying job.

Video: Jury finds former governor guilty (on this page)

Shorter leash
Judge James Zagel, who also presided over the initial trial, has warned he intends to keep the defense on a shorter leash.

He's ruled the defense can't revive a favorite argument — that playing every secret FBI recordings made of Blagojevich would clear him. Defense attorneys also can't try to imply their client's innocence on grounds he may have enacted beneficial policies as governor.

If the defense strays into those lines of arguments Monday, Zagel would likely intervene.

Story: Prosecutors seek to drop some Blagojevich counts

Monday's opening will be prosecutors' first chance to roll out their simplified, more focused case. They dropped complex racketeering charges against Blagojevich and dropped all charges against his co-defendant at the first trial, his brother, Robert Blagojevich.

Some criticized prosecutors at the first trial for delivering a complex case in a dry, just-the-facts mode, saying they must tell a better story and with more emotion. So theatrical was the defense, by contrast, that the presentation sometimes threatened to descend into farce.

It wasn't immediately clear which of three government attorneys will address jurors Monday. Last year, it was Carrie Hamilton, whose refrain then was that Blagojevich — faced with official decisions — always had his hand out for campaign cash and asked, "'What about me?'"

Aaron Goldstein will do the opening for the defense, Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig said Sunday. The sometimes-sardonic but subdued 36-year-old has spent much of his career in state court.

At the first trial, the opening was delivered by an attorney no longer on the defense, Sam Adam Jr. He shouted, whispered and cracked jokes as he paced the courtroom, telling jurors Blagojevich was fooled by confidants but that he "didn't take a dime" of illegal money.

Video: Is Blagojevich verdict a defeat for government? (on this page)

Maximum prison term of 350 years
After the openings, prosecutors were expected to call as their first witness FBI agent Dan Cain. As he did at the outset of the first trial, Cain will lay the groundwork for the prosecution by explaining how the FBI carried out its secret surveillance of Blagojevich.

If convicted on all counts, Blagojevich would face a maximum prison term of 350 years — though guidelines would dictate he get far less. He already faces five years for his conviction at the first trial on a charge of lying to the FBI.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Blagojevich juror speaks out

  1. Closed captioning of: Blagojevich juror speaks out

    >>> us. good morning to you, sir.

    >> good morning to you.

    >> yesterday after the verdict, rod blagojevich said this was a persecution, they threw everything they could at me, the jury agreed the government did not prove its case. is that how you see it?

    >> personally, no. i saw it as the prosecution did prove its case. there was a difference of opinion and interpretation of the evidence and several people voted not guilty on several counts. as was mentioned there was the 11-1 for a few of the counts.

    >> that one holdout we understand was a retired woman. what was her argument against convicting the ex-governor?

    >> the argument was that he was a politician. he was talking to other politicians. sometimes his fund-raiser, sometimes his chief of staff or deputy governor, and he was just talking. she thought that no crime was being committed. it was just political talk. that was her position. we -- all of us, as a jury, respected her position and her right to have that opinion.

    >> yeah.

    >> it differed from ours.

    >> how would you describe the atmosphere in the jury room?

    >> there were times, especially later on, where the frustration level went up and there was tension, but it was always a feeling of respect for other people's opinions. so there was no shouting. there was no fighting. it was fairly amicable, our deliberations. there were times where there was anger and frustration, but overall, i would say we did respect each other.

    >> you know, you say the government did prove its case but only got a conviction on one count. what do you think was the major flaw in its case?

    >> the major flaw was probably the complexity of the case, the amount of information that we had to digest, the length of the judge's instructions to us that we had to learn legal terms, we had to learn the law and how to apply it to the evidence that was given to us either in witness testimony or in wire-tap conversations.

    >> would you like to see the prosecutors retry the case and, if so, what advice would you give them?

    >> personally, i would. if possible, to streamline the case, concentrate on areas where they have more information and not rely so much on witness testimony which was sometimes weak. that's where we split the most. the vote could be something like five guilty to seven not guilty or it would flip. sometimes it would be 9-3. so it was all over. i think it was a testimony to the jurors that they were deliberating on the basis of evidence and not through bias or discrimination or whatever they heard in the media.

    >> you know, you sound like somebody who is pretty much exhausted and glad this is over. we really appreciate you joining us this morning.

    >> thank you. you're welcome.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments