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What to expect today: Rod Blagojevich’s old pal Lon Monk will continue testifying against his former boss. After breaking out the infamous wire-tap phone recordings Thursday, it’s likely Monk will play tour guide again.
But hanging over the proceedings: the trial will almost certainly be thrown up for grabs this morning, after revelations that prospective jurors had freely discussed the case while awaiting questioning during the selection process.
The Chicago Sun-Times says a former jury candidate, David Hallstrom, contacted them and said the waiting jurors openly talked about news coverage of the case, in defiance of Judge James Zagel's order that they could no longer watch, read, or listen to stories about the case.
10:15: Responding to the story about jurors discussing the case amongst each other, Zagel reminds jurors to "be careful to avoid contact with any media. You must not communicate in any way." The reminder came after a closed-door meeting with lawyers and a 30-minute delay.
10:20: Lon Monk is on the stand again. Today he's testifying about Blagojevich's alleged shakedown of Balmoral Racetrack owner John Johnston. Monk says the governor asked Johnson to raise $100,000 for the Friends of Blagojevich fund, and in return he'd sign a bill that forced casinos to hand over some proceeds to area tracks. The government plays taped phone-conversations to support the testimony.
Monk says Rod tried to keep his brother Robert insulated from the pay-to-play deals.
11:00: Blagojevich's hair enters the record. The governor's famous coif is referenced on one of the taped phone conversations when the donor's wife said she loved the Blagojevich headpiece.
11: 40: Break time. Before lunch Zagel addresses a newspaper report that some jurors may have been discussing the case amongst one another. Says he discussed the incident and doesn't think it needs any legal action.
"It's my understanding from a very brief off-the-record conversation there is no need to go further with this considering the substance of what was discussed," he said. "I just wanted to put that on the record."
Zagel also says he may release the secretly recorded telephone conversations earlier than he originally said. Says he'll consider releasing them after they're played, instead of after defense has a chance at cross examination.
12:10: Monk gets back on the stand.
Phil Rogers on the prosecution and defense battling to a draw.
Monday Morning Blagojevich Coverage:
Any number of Blagojevich jurors have already broken the rules by talking to each other about the case [Sun-Times]
Is Blagojevich too stupid to be a political crook? [Associated Press]
Rod traded Republican-style corruption for Democrat-style corruption [Southtown Star]