02-19-2017  1:10 pm      •     
McMenamins

CHICAGO (AP) -- Sam Adam Jr. made his name with a fire-and-brimstone style at Chicago's grim, gritty Criminal Courts Building, where his decisive closing arguments once helped acquit R&B singer R. Kelly on child pornography charges.

Sam Adams Jr., center, during the R. Kelly trial

The 37-year-old defense attorney will try to work the same magic on Monday, closing for Rod Blagojevich at the ousted governor's corruption trial. But he will do it -- for the first time in his career -- at the Dirksen Federal Building, a more staid atmosphere where many believe Adam's theatrics and booming rhetoric can't win.
The much anticipated closing will be a big moment for Blagojevich and Adam. If Adam persuades jurors of his client's innocence, he will have proven detractors wrong and could establish himself as a rising legal star on a stage beyond Chicago.
Attorneys at the Dirksen Building, many of whom went to the finest law schools, tend to look down on their counterparts at the criminal courts building, known as ``26th and Cal'' for its location at 26th and California streets. There, many attorneys started in traffic court and worked their way up.
``They're different worlds,'' says Michael Helfand, a Chicago attorney with no link to the case. ``If Adam gets too carried away, the judge could certainly stop him. That could be a disaster in closings because you lose your rhythm.''
Before a packed courtroom, prosecutor Chris Niewoehner will go first Monday, connecting the dots of a complex case in a cool, just-the-facts-ma'am manner more common at the federal courthouse.
But the spotlight will be on the burly, colorful Adam, who has already clashed with Judge James Zagel and faces a considerable challenge: Defending his client after not introducing a single witness or piece of evidence.
The defense rested on the day prosecutors finished five weeks of calling witnesses and playing wiretap recordings of a foul-mouthed Blagojevich allegedly scheming to parlay decisions as governor into personal gain.
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts, including trying to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat for a Cabinet post, private job or campaign cash.
His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, has also pleaded not guilty to taking part in that alleged scheme.
Adam has a record of around 60 wins and five losses in trials when he delivers the closing. After one last year, a jury acquitted a client accused of murder for stabbing his neighbor 61 times.
During a break from his preparations Saturday, he told The Associated Press he won't use notes during his Blagojevich closing, which will last more than two hours. He'll memorize the outlines -- but improvise, too.
Adam, affable and gregarious outside court, said his objective is to both tell a story and put on a show.
``That doesn't mean a show in the clownish sense,'' he said. ``But you've got to figure out how to best make your argument. If you can do it in an entertaining way, not only are jurors not bored -- they'll understand and accept it more.''
His colleagues say Adam knows how to connect with jurors.
``When Frank Sinatra sang at nightclubs, every woman believed he was singing to her,'' said another Blagojevich attorney, Sheldon Sorosky. ``Sam has that, too. Every person on the jury thinks he's talking to them.''
Adam's father and law partner, Sam Adam Sr., said he took Sam Jr. to 26th and Cal as a boy, urging him to converse with everyone from bailiffs to janitors. If you want to be a trial lawyer, he told him, don't learn to talk like one.
``The problem with most lawyers is they spend all their time with other lawyers,'' said Sam Adam Sr., 74. ``At trial, you're not talking to other lawyers but to jurors who are waitresses, teachers, firemen.''
Blagojevich jurors include several ex-Marines and a one-time postman.
``Most lawyers aren't used to talking to ordinary people,'' added Sam Sr. ``My son is.''
That ability was on display at R. Kelly's trial in 2008. He shouted and pleaded one second. The next, he laughed or whispered. And he pounded his fist. At various times, he invoked God, Satan, Santa Claus and McDonald's.
He displayed that blend of indignation and folksy humor opening for Blagojevich last month.
``You have to be comatose not to figure out how to get a dollar out of $52 billion,'' he thundered, referring to the state budget. ``But who didn't?'' he continued, spinning and pointing at Blagojevich. ``Him!''
Adam also told jurors Blagojevich wasn't going to let a ``chubby, four-eyed lawyer'' talk for him but would testify himself. He never did.
Some saw that as a mistake, a broken promise to jurors. Others suggest Adam outfoxed prosecutors by leading them to think Blagojevich would testify -- thereby holding back some evidence for rebuttal.
Judge Zagel will instruct jurors not to give any weight to Blagojevich's decision not to testify. But Adam is likely to tell jurors that prosecutors failed to prove any crime, rendering the ex-governor's testimony unnecessary.
Zagel several times took Adam to task for repeating questions in cross examination. Once, he asked jurors to leave the courtroom and admonished Adam for asking a witness about having the same last name as a terrorist in the Sept. 11 attacks.
His father acknowledges the risks, but also expresses pride and confidence in his son.
``Absolutely they think 26th and Cal attorneys can't do it,'' he said. ``But the jurors are regular people. Until juries are made up of just lawyers and judges, how can they be sure he can't do it here?''

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all