Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Does just one juror have the courage to do the right thing in the Blagojevich persecution?

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Does one juror have the courage?
Blagojevich denied “missing witness” defense in “missing evidence” case
By Ray Hanania

Everything about the prosecution of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich stinks.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald justified his rush to condemnation, putting his arrest and charges before presenting any solid evidence in a court of law, by asserting that there was a real threat that Blagojevich was about to “sell” the vacated Senate seat of President Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

He even made it sound like Blagojevich was selling the seat not for campaign contributions to his strongest supporter – something many politicians do but no one seems to care – but for personal benefit. Putting cash in his pocket.

Yet after a month of trial, the prosecution didn’t bother to argue the original thesis and they didn’t bring in Congressman Jesse L. Jackson or even Antoine “Tony” Rezko the benevolent and oft-maligned campaign fundraiser and accused money schemer.

When Blagojevich’s attorneys sought to point out that the prosecutors didn’t even call the litany of witnesses they claimed were involved in the case in an 18 month public kangaroo court that resulted in the former governor’s impeachment BEFORE any facts were proven or evidence was weighed by a jury of his peers.

No, instead they focused on other issues that certainly would not have made great headlines as justification to rush in to anything involving compromising a person’s right to be innocent until proven guilty.

Judge James Zagel said he would not permit what the news media has referred to as the “missing witness” defense. Blagojevichs attorney, Sam Adams Jr., wanted the jury to know that after all the bombast, and higher-than-thou pontificating about justice, the prosecutors just brushed it all away. Rezko. And everyone else.

The tragedy is that Blagojevich’s real crime is not that he is a crook but that he is so disliked because of his arrogant, insensitive and abrasive personality. He’s annoying, difficult to listen to and consumed with a persecution complex that everyone is picking on him, even though as governor he picked on many others, too, and threw his own clout around when he felt it was in his own benefit.

He also was very aggressive about raising money for his re-election and future in politics having won a second term as governor. After all, he had no choice. His enemies in the state legislature and the news media, who literally “hated” Blagojevich, greased through a so-called reform bill that targeted the governor to make it harder for him to raise money, even though his challengers could raise money using all kinds of techniques too unethical for the governor.

So he was under pressure and he often spoke wildly and ruthlessly about pushing his supporters, many of them contractors and benefactors of state business – where else have I heard about that system operating before? – to donate huge sums of money.

Blagojevich did what the rest of them did and do. They’re just better liked, less hated and more discreet about how they raise funds from contractors and contributors.

Blagojevich was judged by the media and the politicians for making a public spectacle of himself yelling loudly that he is innocent at every opportunity he could find. Yet, isn’t that what the prosecutors did for 18 months, yell at every opportunity that Blagojevich was guilty and poisoned the atmosphere with one-sided leaks about what was said in secretly taped telephone conversations.

The prosecution did a number of Blagojevich and the mainstream news media helped. But only when Blagojevich tried to fight back did the media play their true role of lapdogs for the prosecution.

This trial was fixed from day one. Blagojevich had no real chance at a fair trial.

While Zagel, a judge who knows which side of the judicial system his bread is buttered, between an extremely unpopular former governor abused by the system, or the prosecution which could do no wrong in the eyes of the mainstream news media that viciously attacked and defamed Blagojevich at every chance they could get, denied the defense to use the “missing witness” defense, he in fact allowed the prosecutors to use an even more pernicious strategy. The “missing evidence” prosecution.

Did Blagojevich put one penny in his pocket. No. But the prosecution read his mind and used his private conversations to turn them in to proof that if given time, he would have eventually put the money in his pocket. That they couldn’t wait for him to do that only proves that it was unlikely that he would. And this “missing evidence” case is merely a dirtied mirror of the failings of the American Judicial system.

I hope Blagojevich walks. I hope at least one juror has the guts that no one else in this state has to stand up and declare loudly that the U.S. Constitution that guarantees every human being the right to defend themselves in a fair court of law and that they are innocent until proven guilty.

Blagojevich was convicted in the court of public opinion led by the lynch mob of the biased mainstream news media and a kangaroo court of hypocrites in Illinois politics, starting with his former Democratic running mate and now successor Gov. Pat Quinn.

Worse, he was guilty going in to the trial and the entire process was geared to prevent him from proving his innocence in the face of a pernicious “missing evidence” strategy.

I hope one juror has the common sense and insight to look past the pressures of the biased media and the biased political system in a state condemned for its culture of corruption long before Blagojevich arrived on the scene.

One juror who has the courage to do what’s right. To stand up to the avalanche of bias and stand up for justice.


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