Judge James Zagel
It's not looking good for Rod Blagojevich.
As the former governor's sentencing hearing got underway Tuesday, Judge James Zagel gave several indications that he was siding with prosecutors and that the defense's arguments were falling on deaf ears.
"Mr. Blagojevich received nothing... and was never going to receive anything," said defense attorney Carolyn Gurland, insisting that it was Blagojevich's advisors who were the real manipulators of any wrongdoing.
But Zagel wasn't buying it.
"I don't think he was an easy man to stop," Zagel declared. "It is absured to contend that his staff and advisors. would have devised schemes that would have benefitted only him."
The judge said it was clear to him that the Jesse Jackson Junior scenario was Blagojevich's number one gambit for the Obama Senate seat, along with its $1.5 million price tag.
In the judge's words: "I don't think there was any other deal on the table."
In fact, Zagel directly accused Blagojevich of lying on the witness stand when he insisted he planned to pursue the appointment of Lisa madigan to the senate seat, flatly declaring "I think that was untrue."
Zagel's remarks likely don't bode well for Blagojevich.
"That's a bad omen," said Richard Kling, a professor at Chicago's Kent College of Law. "That's certainly bad, and the judge certainly has the right to make the decision.... It can enhance the sentence, and it tells you where he's coming from with respect to his defense."
Still, Zagel said Tuesday that given the context of the case "30 years to life is not appropriate."
For a play-by-play of Tuesday's proceedings, review Ward Room's Live Blog.