CHICAGO — A lawyer for Rod Blagojevich clashed with the judge in the former Illinois governor's corruption trial over what he could say in his closing arguments, pledging Monday that he was ready to go to jail for contempt if the judge did not change his mind.
Judge James B. Zagel sent the jury home for the day after Blagojevich's attorney Sam Adam Jr. complained the judge was gutting his closing arguments by not allowing the defense to mention witnesses that prosecutors did not call.
Prosecutors had mentioned some of those witnesses, including convicted fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, in their closing argument, and Adam argued the defense should be able to do the same.
"Your honor, I have a man here that is fighting for his life," Adam said, turning red and raising his hands.
Zagel responded: "You will follow that order because if you don't follow that order you will be in contempt of court."
"I'm willing to go to jail on this," Adam shot back.
Zagel said he was giving Adam the night to rework his closing arguments, given his "profound misunderstanding of legal rules." He said another defense attorney could be designated to give the closing if Adam couldn't follow the rules.
The prosecution had wrapped up its closing arguments earlier, as did an attorney for Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to an alleged scheme to sell the Senate seat that Barack Obama gave up when he was elected president, and to plotting to illegally pressure people for campaign contributions.