The former Illinois governor was doomed by his own big mouth
The more Rod Blagojevich spoke, the less he was believed. When the former Illinois governor exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during his first federal corruption trial, the jury came back mostly deadlocked. This time around, after Blagojevich spent day after day on the witness stand in his own defense, trying vainly to explain away all those catchy phrases caught on all those wiretaps, the jury socked him with convictions on 17 of the 20 counts against him. So long, pal, nice to know you.
Federal prosecutors, including golden boy Patrick Fitzgerald, won the day because they learned their lessons from the first go-around in United States v. Blagojevich. They simplified the case against the disgraced politician. They kept the trial shorter and brought in less evidence. They constructed a more direct and focused narrative of Blagojevich's exploits--the phone calls, the threats, the heavy-handedness--that was easier for jurors to follow. This is what good attorneys do when they are given a second chance to make a first impression. They keep the faith, rejigger the strategy, and press on. And, of course, it helps when you have hours upon hours of audiotapes in which the defendant is blatantly incriminating himself.