CHICAGO (CBS) — Even though prosecutors and defense lawyers said Friday they can make their arguments in just one day and won’t need a second day next week for convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing, the judge in the case said he won’t impose a sentence on Tuesday and still plans to do that on Wednesday.
“I will not pass sentence on Tuesday — will not,” James Zagel said at a hearing Friday.
Zagel had set aside Tuesday and Wednesday for Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing.
He told Blagojevich’s lawyers they won’t need to “cram everything in” on Tuesday.
Even after the lawyers wrap up their arguments regarding sentencing, the judge said he expects to have questions for them.
Zagel also denied Blagojevich’s last-ditch request to vacate his verdict based for reasons including that the former governor’s lawyers weren’t allowed to tell jurors that Blagojevich didn’t know that what he was doing was illegal. Zagel said he thought that argument was “inconsequential” since Blagojevich said more than once in his testimony that he thought what he was doing was legal.
Zagel read a lengthy statement regarding Blagojevich’s case, including the ex-governor’s repeated choice to publicize his case in the news media.
Zagel said he still believes that the ex-governor’s best shot at acquittal was by taking the witness stand.
Prosecutors are asking Zagel to give Blagojevich 15 to 20 years in prison. Blagojevich’s lawyers are seeking probation for him.
Blagojevich’s defense attorney wasn’t telegraphing what his client will say next week.
“Rod Blagojevich is his own man and he will say what he feels is most appropriate,” Sheldon Sorosky told reporters outside court Friday.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller says defendant beware, based on the judge’s statements.
“It was a major beating toward the defense, on what this judge said and how he said it and the way he attacked the lawyers and the defendant – even for the way he testified,” he told CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire