Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

September 2021
S M T W T F S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Chicago

Let the Fun Begin: Fed Prosecutor Calls Blago a “Liar” As Retrial Nears

headline after first trial

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The pretrial hearing was like a “weigh in” before the big boxing match, where both sides snipe at one another.

A federal prosecutor on Monday called the very chatty ex-Ill. Gov Rod Blagojevich a ‘liar’  at a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

And U.S. District Judge James Zagel warned Blago to watch what he yaps to the media because some of those things could be used against him in the trial that begins on Wednesday.

“You can consider my remarks a red flag,” Zagel said.

Lead prosecutor Reid Schar complained about Blagojevich,  who was saying in the media that federal attorneys tried to hide evidence that might  clear him of the accusations, which include allegations that he tried to sell President Obama’s vacant Senate seat, the Tribune reported.

Schar said in court, according to the Trib:  “This is just an attempt by him to poison what’s going on. . . . At a certain point, enough is enough.”  Schar said he would like to grill Blago on  the witness stand and “confront him with his lies.”  However, it’s not clear if Blago will take the stand in his retrial. He did not in the first trial in which he was only convicted on 1 of 24 counts — for lying to the FBI.

Schar was particularly annoyed by Blago’s comments on TV in which he said the government had the power to publicly release more FBI wiretap recordings, the Tribune reported. Schar said that power resides with the judge. Blago has claimed repeatedly that the prosecutors don’t want to release all the FBI recordings, which would prove his innocence.

“We’d like some remedy for those fabrications that he’s not being called on,” he said, according to the Tribune.

Defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky countered by saying Blago  was offering up his understanding of the rules and intentionally fabricating them, according to the Trib.

Blagojevich spokesman Glenn Selig said in a statement, according to the Trib: “The governor will continue to be truthful, honest and responsible as he does everything he can to clear his name.”

Blago Noise Machine Revs Up: He Wants All FBI Tapes Played in Court

facebook photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Blago noise machine is revving up again as the ex-Illinois governor prepares for his retrial next week in federal court in downtown Chicago.

On Wednesday, Rod Blagojevich griped before a group of reporters in front of his Ravenswood Manor home in Chicago that the prosecution is refusing to play all the FBI tapes in trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He thinks the tapes in their entirety will prove his innocence.

“It’s not the job of prosecutors to win at all costs,” Blagojevich said, according to the Sun-Times. “It’s not the job of prosecutors to railroad an innocent man.”

“I’m renewing my call – every taped conversation, every FBI interview, every scrap of evidence should be released to the public,” said Blagojevich. “They elected me twice as their governor. They have the right to know what the truth is.”

His first trial ended with him being convicted on only 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the remaining charges.

Chicago Drunk Driver Gets Probation: FBI Agent He Hit Has Undergone 5 Surgeries

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Under the category of very sad stories, a 21-year-old Chicago man was sentenced Tuesday to 24 months of probation after pleading guilty to being under the influence of alcohol when he hit an off-duty FBI agent’s car  head-on last last September in the Chicago suburb of River Grove, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The paper reported that FBI agent Elizabeth Petruc was driving to run in a Labor Day marathon.

She told the judge during an impact statement that she has had five surgeries and she probably won’t be able to return to work for at least a year, the Tribune reported.

“I’ve sacrificed a great deal to become an FBI agent and I love my job,” Petruc said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I’m just a shadow of myself physically and mentally.”

The paper reported that the drunk driver, Jose Rodriguez, who was not of age to drink at the time, apologized. His alcohol blood level was triple the legal limit.

“He realizes his apology is of little use to the victim. But he is truly sorry and the matter haunts him,” said defense attorney Roy Amatore, according to the Tribune.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis Steps Down as Chicago’s Top Cop

Is the Chicago Judge Going too Far by Withholding Jurors Names After the Verdict?

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Imagine taxpayers spending millions of dollars collectively trying an Illinois governor, and in the end, the case all but collapses. The jurors only convict on one of 24 counts . They end up deadlocked on the rest.

Imagine that. Yes,it’s not too hard, considering it happened in the first trial of ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Isn’t it fair to assume people want to know why the case collapsed? Can we go as far as to say they have a right to know? I’d say Yes.

So I speak with some mixed feelings when I read that the U.S. District Judge James Zagel in Chicago on Tuesday ruled that he won’t release the names of the jurors until 9 a.m., the day after the verdict in the retrial of Blagojevich, which begins April 20.

The judge wants to  protect the jurors. Fair.

Zagel raises some good points: He says the press after the first trial hounded the jurors to find out what they were thinking. They knocked on doors. A TV helicopter reportedly flew up above a home where one jury was staying, the Associated Press reported. The judge has said the press was  obnoxious, that reporters went too far.

I’m for some balance. Jurors have rights.  But so does the public — the right to know. At minimum, the judge — and in other high profile cases as well — should strongly suggest — and not just throw it out as an option — that at least one of the jurors should brief the press after the verdict. Judges have a way of being persuasive, particularly after they bond with jurors during a trial. They can make it happen. And maybe that way, reporters wouldn’t have to knock on doors.

We have a right to know: What the prosecution, what the defense  did right, what they did wrong. Was it taxpayers’ money well spent? Did justice — regardless of the verdict — prevail?

There should be dignity in these proceedings. No question. But citizens — the lion’s share who don’t have time to attend these trials  — have the right to know what’s going on in the courts.

And while I’m at it, frankly, it’s time to bring television cameras into federal court to let citizens — some who have never stepped foot in a federal court — see what’s going on.  Worse yet, some federal courts, like in  Alexandria, Va., do everything to make it difficult for the press to do its job. The court there doesn’t allow reporters to carry cell phones (this is the 21st Century) and laptops (granted they shouldn’t be used in the courtrooms).

I have to commend federal courthouses like the one in Washington, which try to accommodate the press. Reporters can carry cell phones and bring a laptop into the courthouse.  And during some trials, like the one in D.C. involving Sen. Ted Stevens, the court set up an overflow room with TV monitors where reporters used laptops to report to the public what was going on. Other courthouses should follow suit.

Federal court is a dignified place.  But let’s strike a balance. Let’s not lose sight of the fact the people have a right to know what’s going on!

Chicago FBI Looking for Folks With Foreign Language Skills


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As part of its ongoing battle against a host of crimes including cyber crime, terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, corruption, kidnapping and civil rights violations,the FBI in Chicago is looking to recruit contract linguists with foreign language skills.

The bureau is hosting a foreign language career fair on March 12 at the offices of the Illinois Medical District, 2100 W Harrison Street, in Chicago from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The FBI said prospects must be U.S. citizens.

In a press release, the FBI in Chicago said the agency is looking “to add to its foreign language program individuals fluent in Chinese (all dialects), Korean, Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Somali, Spanish, and Hebrew. However, positions are available for persons with any foreign language fluency.”

The agency said the contract linguists translate documents or audio, serve as interpreters for investigative interviews and provide translation during visits by foreign dignitaries.

The pay ranges from $27 to $41 per hour.

Is it End of the Line for Ex-FBI Agent Jody Weis as Head of Chicago Police?

Chief Johy Weis/police photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Could it be the end of the line for ex-FBI agent Jody Weis, the first outsider to head up the Chicago Police Department in nearly 50 years?

The Chicago Tribune reports that his three-year, $310,000 a year contract as police chief expires on Tuesday, and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel had pledged to replace him.

“We’ll see what happens,” Weis said during a news conference on Sunday, according to the Trib.

“When this position ends, I’ll look into doing something else. I’d like to do something here in Chicago,” he said. The former FBI agent was appointed by Mayor Richard Daley in 2008.

Judge in Blago Case May Get Jurors No-Trespassing Signs for Homes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Is a federal judge going too far by restraining the media or just being considerate?

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel  in Chicago said Thursday he may have the U.S. Marshals Service offer no-trespassing signs to jurors to put up at their homes following the verdict in the retrial of ex-Ill Gov. Rod Blagojevich to keep reporters away.

“We have clear evidence that some members of the media will disregard the ordinary rights of citizens … to get the story,” Zagel said, according to the Tribune.

The judge made the remark at a hearing in which media outlets argued against proposed restrictions to keep the media away from jurors, the Tribune reported. The judge said he was bothered by the media hounding jurors after the first trial in which Blagojevich was convicted on 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the other counts.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the idea distressing because of the message it would send to jurors, the Tribune reported. She said the post-verdict interviews provide the public a better understanding of the process.

“Passing out signs is signaling to them the media is going to make your life miserable,” Dalglish said of Zagel’s comments, ” according to the Tribune. “I don’t think that should be his role.”

Dalglish also noted the importance of post-verdict media interviews of jurors, saying they provide important understanding to the public and the legal system about how a case was handled.

The trial is set for April 20.