By the end of the prosecution's case, Rod Blagojevich and his lawyers had grown increasingly concerned about what could happen next.
Defense attorney Sam Adam Sr. made no secret of the fact that he did not want the former governor to take the stand.
In a hurried, nonstop interview as he rushed from the Dirksen Federal Building to a parking garage two blocks away, Adam Sr. cited the government decision not to call former Blagojevich stalwart Tony Rezko and convicted swindler Stuart Levine. He said there were no guarantees either or both men wouldn't show up during a government rebuttal case, after what was certain to be a bruising cross-examination of the well-coiffed Blagojevich.
But as late as mid-evening, sources said that the final decision was still in flux. And remember, this is the same governor who pulled free rides for seniors seemingly out of nowhere, astonishing aides, budget officials, and most certainly 99 percent of the general assembly in a "where did that come from?" moment. If his strategies have always been etched in jello, this one was certainly jiggling with unknowns.
But this is the same governor who declared he would not appear at his own impeachment, only to stroll into the chamber as the final act, a defiant move which failed to sway a disgusted general assembly.
Most courtroom observers believe the defense felt they faced a lose-lose worse scenario: put Blagojevich on the stand and watch him get rhetorically eviscerated (a decision likely made after focus groups or rehearsals had gone down in flames); or roll the dice and keep him off the stand, facing the certain wrath of jurors who were promised that they would hear the lurid undercover tapes explained by the former governor himself.
Publicly, the defense need merely state that they didn't NEED the governor's testimony; that the government's case was so weak that it didn't deserve a response. The defendant, of course, has a constitutional right not to appear on the stand. And all juries receive a standard instruction from the judge that they are not to take his or her absence into account in making their decisions.
Jurors, or course, live in the real world, however, and experts say they often want to hear from the accused himself. Staying off the stand represents, for some, a yawning chasm of doubt.
And the others? Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emmanuel, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Jesse Jackson Jr., a star studded witness list who were subpoenaed and ordered to be ready to testify? If the defense team sticks to what they told the judge during a brief sidebar Tuesday, those witnesses need not book passage to Chicago.