Sheldon SoroskyAfter the prosecution rested its case in the Blagojevich retrial last week, I called Rod’s old friend and lawyer Sheldon Sorosky to ask him whom the defense was going to call as a witness today. Sorosky would not give me names, and he had not decided (as of last Friday) whether Blago would take the stand. But he dismissed rumors that Blago would be delivering his own closing argument and discussed his relationship with Judge Zagel.
Who are the witnesses you’re going to call next week?
We can’t reveal that now because unfortunately we’re not certain.
Rahm Emanuel, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Harry Reid?
No, no, not Reid.
What about Rahm and Jesse?
They’re under consideration.
What about Rod Blagojevich—will he take the stand?
We have not decided.
You mean you’re going to be deciding that over the weekend
We may. Or [we may decide] even after some witnesses testify.
Is the story that Rod is going to deliver his own closing argument true?
No. I don’t know where that came from, and that’s not even a wise tactic. Some lawyers feel that that’s a good tactic if you have a one issue case—like I didn’t know the drugs were in the trunk—where you don’t have to be much of a lawyer and you kind of argue as a person, you just get in the car and drive. Who looks in your trunk when you get into a car? Maybe an individual says something like that as opposed to a lawyer. However, Rod is a lawyer. He talks like an educated person. If you have an ordinary guy who notwithstanding his ordinariness might convey a good message and you’ve got a one-point type topic, it’s a good tactic. That’s not the case here.
How long will it take for you to put on your witnesses; a few days or a week?
Witnesses don’t take long. What would be long would be Blagojevich testifying.
Blago testifying would add another week?
It’s conceivable. Maybe that’s a little long. I don’t know, about a week?
When will this case go to the jury?
I honestly don’t know. I could safely say in June, not May.
Does it hurt your feelings when Judge Zagel keeps sustaining those prosecution objections? [Last week, Zagel pleaded with Sorosky, “Please stop” and “Don’t even ask.”)
Absolutely not. This isn’t like an arithmetic problem where the right answer is seven, and if you come up with eight, you’re wrong. Judge Zagel answers in such a way as if that were the case—like a professor who says, “No, the answer’s seven, and eight may be close but it’s wrong.” When I was examining Lon Monk, the judge said he didn’t like some word I put in. So I asked the question again without that word, and it was answered. “Wouldn’t you say Mr. Monk this was correct?”—bad form. “That’s not correct, is it, Mr. Monk?”—that’s the right form. One judge would say that’s not the correct way to do it; another judge might say what difference does it make?
Do you ever share any light moments with Judge Zagel?
Yes, I like him. I think he is a good, honest, decent man—a nice guy and a brilliant judge. There have been many times in pretrial matters, when the jury is out, of course, when we talk about the Bulls or the Bears or the Cubs or this politician or that.
Photograph: Chicago Tribune