CHICAGO (WBBM) — Although media reports indicate that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is considering the possibility of delivering his own closing argument at his upcoming retrial on federal corruption charges, one expert says it is highly unlikely to happen.
The advantage is that closing arguments are not evidence, and as a result, are not subject to cross-examination. But criminal defense attorney and Kent Law professor Richard Kling said the rules in federal court require a defendant to make a choice, to be represented by lawyers and let them argue, or represent yourself.
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“There’s an old adage that if you represent yourself, you have a fool for a client,” Kling said. “The bottom line is that it happens on occasion, it’s very rare and generally it happens before trial.
Once the trial begins, the rules make it even more difficult to fire or replace lawyers, although Kling said U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel would have the final say.
Kling said he doubts that Blagojevich would fire his lawyers now in order to make the closing argument and escape cross-examination.
Underscoring Kling’s view about the wisdom of representing himself, Blagojevich made his own closing argument at his 2009 impeachment trial before the Illinois Senate, which has different rules. He was removed from office by a vote of 59-0.