- Associated Press - Monday, July 12, 2010

CHICAGO | The federal judge presiding over the corruption trial of ousted Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich hasn’t asked for advice from the public - but he said Monday he has received some.

“I have received three e-mails which reflected on the core idea that the writers hoped voters who voted for defendant Blagojevich sat on the jury so they could atone for their sins,” U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel revealed.

Judge Zagel said he got another message saying the writer was surprised that “somebody who appeared to have as few skills as he has could actually have committed such a crime.”

The judge made the messages public after a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that requires him to reopen the issue of whether the names of jurors should made public prior to the verdict. The decision raised the issue of what communications that judge may have been receiving in connection with the case.


Judge Zagel revealed that one anonymous letter said that “the writers were all depending on me to see that the accused got what he deserved.”

“They didn’t say what they thought he deserved,” Judge Zagel said. He noted that someone else reflected on the “guilt of the voters for electing him.”

Judge Zagel said none of the unsolicited communications he received was belligerent or threatening, and all had the tone of offering advice. He said no such advice has arrived in the past three months.

Mr. Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to scheming to get an administration Cabinet position, a high-paying job or massive campaign contribution by selling or trading the appointment to the Senate seat Barack Obama left to move to the White House in 2008. He has also pleaded not guilty to plotting to launching a racketeering operation in the governor’s office.

His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, a Nashville, Tenn., businessman, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged scheme involving the Senate seat and to being part of a plan to shake down a racetrack owner and a road-building executive.

Prosecutors say they are probably going to rest their case this week.

On Monday, defense attorneys cross-examined former Deputy Gov. Robert Greenlee, who was in frequent direct and telephone contact with Rod Blagojevich in November and early December 2008, when prosecutors say the governor was busily trying to trade or sell the Obama Senate seat.

Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein tried to get Mr. Greenlee to admit that he had told the governor that it would be legitimate for him to ask Mr. Obama for the post of secretary of health and human services in return for appointing Obama family friend Valerie Jarrett to the Senate.

Mr. Greenlee admitted that at an early November 2008 meeting he did use the word “legitimate,” but said he hadn’t meant to suggest that it was therefore “legal.” He said he had meant to say that the request was “commensurate.”

He also admitted that he had frequently been insincere when he told Mr. Blagojevich things that he thought the governor wanted to hear. He recalled he said things he didn’t mean because he didn’t want to lose access to the governor by offering honest opinions.

Sitting at the defense table, Mr. Blagojevich occasionally shook his head or raised his eyebrows during Mr. Greenlee’s testimony - especially when Mr. Greenlee at one point denied that one of his key roles as deputy governor was to provide advice to the governor.

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