Tag Archives: Judge James Zagel

Blagojevich sentencing delayed, Judge James Zagel, William Cellini trial, Postponed until a further order of the court

Blagojevich sentencing delayed, Judge James Zagel, William Cellini trial, Postponed until a further order of the court

From the Chicago Tribune September 26, 2011.

“Federal judge delays Blagojevich sentencing”
“Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing next month on his sweeping corruption charges has been postponed, according to a court order Monday.

No new date has been set.

The Oct. 6 date has always been tentative, and the postponement is not surprising largely because  Blagojevich’s co-defendant, William Cellini, is scheduled to go on trial next Monday in the same courtroom.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel, who will preside over both Blagojevich’s sentencing and Cellini’s trial, said in a written order on Monday that the former governor’s sentencing has been postponed “until a further order of the court.””


Blagojevich trial juror names secret, Judge James Zagel, Questionnaires not released

Blagojevich trial juror names secret, Judge James Zagel, Questionnaires not released

“Why did the Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee, with Obama as chairman, create and push Bill 1332, “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” early in 2003, which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, just prior to rigging by Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

From the Chicago Tribune February 8, 2011.

“The federal judge presiding over the retrial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich ruled today that he intends to keep the names of jurors secret until after the verdict and won’t publicly release the written questionnaires they fill out.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he intends to destroy the questionnaires to “help ensure full candor of responses.” He took the same action after the first trial last year.

The judge also said he would identify jurors by number during the trial and only release their names eight hours after the verdict is returned. He released the names moments after the verdict was announced last time.

Zagel wasn’t specific about why he made the change, writing, “Incidents occurring after juror names were released following the first trial counsels the wisdom of providing a short delay in releasing jurors’ names, even after the verdict is returned.””

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Blagojevich retrial hearing, August 26, 2010, Judge James Zagel, Citizen Wells open thread

Blagojevich retrial hearing, August 26, 2010, Judge James Zagel

The retrial hearing for Rod Blagojevich takes place today, Thursday, August 26, 2010.

From the Chicago Tribune.

“The retrial of Rod Blagojevich could look decidedly different from the first go-around if the bombastic father-and-son team of Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr. drop off the case, as the former governor’s lead lawyers have hinted since last week.

Both Adams have suggested they want out of a repeat performance, with the younger one telling attorneys in the case that it’s time for him and his father to move on, according to sources.

Sheldon Sorosky, another Blagojevich lawyer who could remain on a reduced two-member defense team, said Wednesday he believes the younger Adam, whom he described as a “legal Michelangelo,” may struggle to find the energy to tackle the mammoth task again.

Adam’s closing argument was marked by loud and passionate pleas, a flurry of government objections and even an apology for sweating on a juror.

Some answers could become apparent Thursday as U.S. District Judge James Zagel holds the first public status hearing since the trial ended last week, with the jury convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI about his knowledge of political fundraising but deadlocking on all the other 23 counts.”

“”The primary purpose (for the hearing) is to set a new trial date,” Sorosky said. “Then, as in any retrial situation, the second purpose — which this time may eclipse the first — is the lawyer situation.”

In a private conference last week with attorneys in the case, Zagel said he expects the former governor to be allowed just two lawyers for the retrial.

Blagojevich, who had seven attorneys for the first trial, has tapped out his $2.7 million campaign fund, which under Zagel’s supervision was used to pay his legal fees. Rules under the Criminal Justice Act allow a defendant whose defense is paid for with taxpayer funds to have no more than two lawyers.”

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Blagojevich trial January 2011?, Judge James Zagel, Public defenders, Citizen Wells open thread, August 24, 2010

Blagojevich trial January 2011?, Judge James Zagel, Public defenders

From the Chicago Tribune August 23, 2010.

“At a private meeting last week with lawyers in the case, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he was eyeing January for a second trial and suggested he would appoint two attorneys for Blagojevich at taxpayer expense, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Blagojevich’s legal team of seven lawyers was paid from his campaign funds for the first trial, but taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the retrial because the $2.7 million in campaign money ran out.

No date for a retrial has been picked, and the matter remains fluid, those with knowledge of the meeting said. The attorneys are scheduled to meet for a public status hearing in front of Zagel on Thursday.”

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Blagojevich trial jury requests transcripts of all testimony, July 30, 2010, Judge James Zagel

Blagojevich trial jury requests transcripts of all testimony, July 30, 2010

From the Chicago Breaking News Center July 30, 2010.

“Jurors in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial may be settling in for a long haul after sending a note to the judge this morning asking for a transcript of all the testimony.

“Is it permissible to obtain a transcript of the testimony?” the note signed by the jury’s foreman read. “It would be helpful.”

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he took the note to mean the jury wanted transcripts of the testimony of all 27 witnesses in the seven-week trial.

The judge said he planned to respond by telling the jury he would consider requests for specific witnesses, which seemingly will invite the jury to list those whose testimony the panel wants the most.”

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Blagojevich trial, Sam Adam Jr threatened with contempt, Key witnesses not called, Rezko Levine Quinlan, Judge James Zagel

Blagojevich trial, Sam Adam Jr threatened with contempt, Key witnesses not called

I am not certain if this is part of some preordained script but I agree with Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr., the government should have called Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine to the witness stand.

From the Chicago Tribune July 26, 2010.

“Following his dispute with the trial judge, Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., walked over to the former governor and shook his hand in a way that suggested to reporters he was done representing him.
Adam then walked out of Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, leaving it in doubt whether he will return tomorrow to deliver the closing argument for the former governor.

Asked by reporters if he would be back for the closings, Adam responded, “I don’t know yet.”

Adam announced to U.S. District Judge James Zagel that he wouldn’t follow the judge’s order barring him from arguing that the government didn’t call some key witnesses to point the finger at the former governor. Adam wants to be able to tell the jury that they weren’t called because they would have been helpful to Blagojevich.

Zagel threatened to hold him in contempt of court if he proceeded, and Adam said he would take that risk.

“I’m willing to go to jail for this, your honor,” Adam said loudly. “I cannot follow your order on this.”

Having that door closed makes it impossible for him to effectively represent Blagojevich, Adam said. He said he should be able to argue that the government could have called witnesses such as fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, political insider Stuart Levine and Blagojevich’s general counsel, William Quinlan.”

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Blagojevich trial day 2, June 4, 2010, Jury selection, Judge James Zagel, Prosecutors and defense attorneys question jurors, Open thread

Blagojevich trial day 2, June 4, 2010, Jury selection, Judge James Zagel

From CBS 2 in Chicago June 4, 2010.

“Day Two Of Blagojevich Jury Selection Set To Begin”

“Before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel begins questioning the next pool of potential jurors, prosecutors and defense attorneys will argue whether any of the 29 jury candidates who were interviewed Thursday should be dismissed because of bias.

Once that process is finished, Zagel will bring in another group of potential jurors for questioning.

Ultimately, the judge and attorneys expect to whittle down an original list of 100 potential jurors to about 45 likely jurors.

Then each side will be allowed to exercise peremptory challenges, which allow them to dismiss jurors without giving a reason. Defense attorneys get 13 such challenges; prosecutors get nine. The attorneys get unlimited challenges “for cause,” meaning there is a reason to believe a potential juror is biased.

The end result will be a panel of 12 jurors and likely six alternates to hear what is expected to be a three- to four-month trial. Jurors are paid $40 a day plus transportation costs for the entire trial.”

“Defense attorneys said both Rod and Rob Blagojevich will testify. They also said Patti Blagojevich will take the stand.

The defense has also subpoenaed White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.”

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Blagojevich trial, Judge James Zagel, Blagojevich trial judge, Money to Burn, Zagel novel, Chicago legal community, State Cabinet posts

Blagojevich trial, Judge James Zagel, Blagojevich trial judge

From the Chicago Tribune May 17, 2010.

“Blagojevich trial judge regarded as smart, unflappable”

“Do you ever wonder what spins through a judge’s head while lawyers and witnesses drone on endlessly for days and weeks at trial?

In the case of U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, who is scheduled to preside over the sweeping corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a little more than two weeks, there’s a good chance those thoughts sometimes drift to grandly larcenous fantasies.

How else to explain “Money to Burn,” the well-received 2002 novel penned by Zagel about a federal judge who masterminds an audacious heist at the super-secure Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago? (Spoiler alert: The judge gets away with millions of dollars.)

Zagel may have an active imagination, but his broad list of admirers in Chicago’s legal community view that as just another example of why he is regarded as one of the smartest and most unflappable jurists at the federal courthouse.
“He is definitely one of those people who can do the job well with half of his attention,” veteran lawyer Joel Bertocchi said of Zagel, who has had parts in two Hollywood movies and whose broad interests range from jazz to target shooting with court security officers.

At 69, and with more than two decades on the federal bench, Zagel boasts a resume to qualify him as one of the most interesting men in Chicago. He helped prosecute mass murderer Richard Speck, twice held state Cabinet posts and was once married to TV investigative reporter Pam Zekman.

As a jurist, he also moonlights on the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that decides whether to issue warrants for electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects.

In 1965, after graduating from the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School, Zagel joined the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, where he helped gain the conviction of Speck, the notorious killer of eight student nurses on the city’s Southeast Side.

From 1970 to 1977, Zagel ran the criminal division of the Illinois attorney general’s office. One of his assistants was Jayne Carr, who would later marry Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson. As a colleague, Jayne Thompson said, Zagel was hard-driving, meticulous with the law and possessed of an “encyclopedic memory.”

“He can sit down and write a legal pleading and fill in the citations, including the page numbers, without bringing out a book,” she recalled.

Zagel eventually went to work in Thompson’s administration, first as director of the Department of Revenue and then as head of what was then known as the Department of Law Enforcement.”

“Zagel was appointed to the federal bench in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, and while his law enforcement background has given him a reputation for leaning toward the government’s view, he is widely viewed by members of the defense bar as predictable and fair.”

“Halprin, who represented mob boss Joey “the Clown” Lombardo, said Zagel did a good job managing a case with colorful lawyers in a circuslike atmosphere — a climate likely to be repeated in the Blagojevich case, which features a star defendant and legal team with flairs for the dramatic.”

“In 2008, Zagel was appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to a seven-year term on the intelligence court.”

“The judge, said Bertocchi, “will want the result of this trial to speak well of the legal system.””

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Blagojevich trial, Update, May 7, 2010, Blagojevich lawyers seek trial delay, Supreme Court ruling, Judge James Zagel

Blagojevich trial, Update, May 7, 2010, Blagojevich lawyers seek trial delay

From the Chicago Tribune May 7, 2010.

“Blago lawyers go to appeals court in last-ditch bid to delay corruption trial”

“Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers have gone to a federal appeals court in a last-ditch effort to delay his corruption trial.

Blagojevich’s lawyers asked the appeals court to order trial Judge James Zagel to postpone the start of trial until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on challenges to the federal law barring officials from denying taxpayers their honest services.”

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Blagojevich trial, May 7, 2010, Judge limits defense arguments, Judge James Zagel, Prosecutors’ request limit defense team jury arguments

Blagojevich trial, May 7, 2010, Judge limits defense arguments

From The Chicago Tribune.

“Judge limits defense arguments at Blagojevich trial”

“The judge overseeing the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday granted prosecutors’ request to limit what the ex-governor’s defense team can argue in front of the jury at the trial that begins next month.

An entry on the court docket in the case indicates U.S. District Judge James Zagel had granted the request made by the prosecution in April.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to block the argument by the defense that it should be able to play all the undercover recordings made of Blagojevich in the fall of 2008 — something the ex-governor has repeated publicly multiple times.”

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