The difference in styles was readily apparent.
Carrie Hamilton took the 18-member jury through the saga that was
the Blagojevich investigation, utilizing a PowerPoint presentation
to outline the lengthy list of charges the governor faces, including
extortion and racketeering.
Hamilton spoke with cold resolve as she discussed Blagojevich's
mounting debt and the mountain of evidence, including taped
conversations of his alleged misdeeds.
"When he was supposed to be asking about what was best for the
people of Illinois, he was asking 'what about me,'" she said as she
turned to a slide outlining five alleged "shakedowns."
The presentation painted a picture of Blagojevich's alleged
repeated attempts to extort campaign donations from victims,
including officials with a children's hospital and horse track,
through middlemen like his co-defendant brother Rob.
Hamilton focused on his alleged denial of state money to
Children's Memorial Hospital until the hospital's owner, Patrick
Magoon, donated $25,000 to his campaign fund.
Hamilton's even tone was a world away from the charisma of her
counterpart, Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr.
Adam began his 80-minute opening statement by admitting that he
did not know how to use a PowerPoint slide show.
What Adam does know, however, is showmanship.
The defense attorney, dressed in a black pinstripe suit and
vibrant red tie, moved about the courtroom, transitioning from a
shout to a whisper before jurors knew what hit them.
He painted his client as an honest politician but terrible judge
of character who trusted the wrong people, including two of the
prosecution's top witnesses: convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko and
former Blagojevich aide Alonzo "Lon" Monk, who pleaded guilty to
corruption charges earlier this year.
"If Blagojevich is running this organization ... this scheme, Lon
Monk isn't a co-conspirator, he's (Blagojevich's) best friend," he
said. "He hid (the corruption) from him."
Blagojevich and Monk have known each other since law school.
Adam challenged the prosecution's claim that Blagojevich was at
once corrupt and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in
kickbacks, and financially imperiled through a mountain of debt. He
told the jury that Monk and Rezko were the only people with secret
bank accounts and money to spare.
"The biggest corrupt politician in the country is broke and why?"
he said. "Because he didn't take a dime."
Both sides focused a large part of opening statements on the most
well-known charge against Blagojevich -- the alleged attempted sale
of President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.
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Hamilton told the jury that Rob Blagojevich's repeated calls to
representatives of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, D-Ill., and
conversations about millions in campaign donations demonstrate the
former governor's priorities when filling the seat.
"No matter the precise words (the Blagojevich brothers) used,
their message was clear: Pay up or no state action, no Senate seat,"
Adam dismissed the prosecution's interpretation of Blagojevich's
description of the seat as "golden."
"Pay to play means, in order to play you have to give them
something. ... He never saw a dime," he said. "You have to say it
The lawyers did find common ground in the use of repetition to
drive home their respective positions.
Hamilton told jurors time and again the evidence is in the tapes
the federal government accumulated over the course of its
investigation. "You will hear him speak (about corruption) in his
own words," she told the jurors.
Adam, meanwhile, continually asked jurors to "follow the money"
in order to determine just who was corrupt in the Blagojevich
Mike Ettinger delivered the shortest of the day's opening
statements on behalf of the former governor's brother, Rob -- or, as
the jury now knows him, Lt. Col. Robert Blagojevich.
Rob served in the Army and Army Reserve for more than 20 years --
a point which may play well with the four veterans on the jury.
Ettinger stammered often throughout his 40-minute address but
hammered home several points to the jury, the first being that Rob
is not particularly close to his brother; in fact, "he's a
The defense attorney also tried to distance his client from the
political world, highlighting his only fundraising experience before
coming to the campaign fund.
"He's not a professional fundraiser ... and he didn't get
involved in politics," Ettinger said, squaring up to the jury. "(The
campaign) gave him donor lists, folks, just like they did at the
The Blagojevich defense teams may have had the last word on
Tuesday afternoon, but the prosecution will come out swinging
Two of the trial's most high-profile witnesses will take the
stand: FBI agent Dan Cain and cooperating witness Lon Monk.
Statehouse News; By BILL McMORRIS]