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Strangely Quiet During Blago Deliberations

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Strangely Quiet During Blago Deliberations
Jack Higgins
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In the mysterious, moment-to-moment world that is the Rod Blagojevich corruption case, the moment has changed.

Observers have long known that Blagojevich, both in his official and disgraced versions, reveled in being the center of attention. A politician with a prodigious gift of gab, even after he was unceremoniously ridden out of Springfield on a virtual rail, he continued to bask in whatever public glow he could find. 

Even pistachio nut commercials were considered legitimate candidates for the Blagojevich oeuvre.

But that worm has now turned. 

Blagojevich's jury has been secluded behind closed doors for six days. And on Monday, even his trial judge, the honorable James Zagel, moved on. 

A peek into Zagel's oak-paneled courtroom revealed a new trial, a mortgage fraud case, where Zagel was presiding over jury selection.

To be fair, federal judges frequently multitask, and if the Blagojevich jury returns with a verdict, Zagel will send his mortgage case into hiding and shift back into the former governor's world.

The defendant himself has not been at the courthouse since his jury began deliberations. But reporters have been told that he is only a phone call away.

Indeed, even the defense team failed to take up their usual positions in the second floor cafeteria on Monday. With prosecutors firmly ensconced in their Dirksen building offices, reporters who have covered the case from its beginning were left as the sole evidence that the case was even happening. 

There was such a paucity of Blagojevich activity that at one point Monday, curious reporters abandoned their stations on the second floor to check Zagel's chamber, just to make certain that the parties had not somehow been summoned to the court for some unknown purpose.

They hadn't. But the courtroom, the epicenter of the Blagojevich world for the last six weeks, was suddenly filled with unfamiliar faces. Blagojevich's chair was now occupied by a different defendant. 

The wheels of justice keep turning, but for some, the road beneath them is suddenly very unfamiliar.

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