Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has nothing to do but wait. For the second time, a jury is deciding his fate.
How it turns out for him depends on whether the 11-women-and-one-man jury is more convinced of his guilt or innocence. Did Blagojevich plot and plan and scheme to get personal gain? The decisions of the jurors, of course, are completely subjective, because there is no smoking gun. There is no white-hot quid-pro-quo.
"Blagojevich got nothing, nothing, nothing" for himself, "Rod didn't get a dime," defense attorney Aaron Goldstein argued during closing arguments Thursday.
"It's not about the success, it about the attempt," prosecutor Carrie Hamilton reminded jurors during her closing.
Rarely is a jury so empowered to use personal feelings and opinions to determine if one of the most famous governors in recent history committed crimes.
"It's all up to interpretation," Goldstein said.
"Not exactly" said prosecutor Reid Schar. "Listen to the tapes (recordings of phone conversations)... That will show you."
Attorneys on both sides seemed pretty convincing, as they performed for the jury, while taking regular sips from giant water bottles. Both sides played bits of phone recordings to help back up their claims.
"They've both made really good points. When the prosecution was talking, I thought he seemed guilty. When the defense was talking, I thought he seemed not guilty," said one courtroom observer.
At one point, Hamilton used an example of policeman trying to get bribes from motorists to explain how someone might feel squeezed to give up cash, whether they want to or not. Another time, fellow prosecutor Reid Schar used an example of a bank robber who tries to rob a bank but gets caught before he gets the money. Schar was trying to show that attempting to commit a crime is as bad as succeeding with the crime.
There are a total of 20 charges against Blagojevich. The first 10 are wire fraud, counts 11 and 12 are attempted extortion, count 13 and 17 are soliciting bribes, counts 14 and 18 are conspiracy to commit extortion, counts 15 and 20 are conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes and counts 16 and 19 are attempted extortion.
"He was trying to get something of value for him, in exchange for state action... Once you've found that happened, there is no good faith," said prosecutor Carrie Hamilton, who's stature in the courtroom makes her seem larger than her trim 5-foot-three-inch frame. "The defendant has every reason to come in here and lie. He's trying to save himself... He's guilty."
Hamilton spent her time going through each of the accusations: Blagojevich is accused of trying to use his power as governor to gain benefits for himself; signing legislation to expand the tollway in exchange for campaign cash, offering a grant to a Chicago school in exchange for campaign cash, approving an increase in pediatric rates for doctors in exchange for campaign cash, signing racetrack legislation in exchange for campaign cash and, of course, choosing who to appoint to the much desired open U.S. Senate seat, in exchange for a big job or big money.
"He remembers details when he thinks it's going to help him, but he suddenly has amnesia when he thinks it's going to hurt him" Hamilton said.
Goldstein, who spoke at a dramatically loud whisper through most of his closing arguments, chalked it all up to the governor with the big hair just talking too much. "He talks and he talks and he talks," he said. "He talks so much he even overrules my objections," said Goldstein, who may have been joking, but that's exactly what happened several times during the trial.
"They had a good relationship," he said. Goldstein wanted the jury to see that Blagojevich chatted with a lot of political cronies at a lot of different events. The underlying statement was that it was just politics as usual, the way it's done, nothing to see here.
"He has the right to ask for and accept campaign contributions. We may not like it, we may not like the system. That is politics today, and that is the law," Goldstein said. "All of these actions show that nothing wrong was going on, absolutely nothing wrong was going on."
"You as the jury ... are the only ones who can show the difference between right and wrong. That is the power you have. You will speak the truth and the truth is, he is guilty. Find him guilty," Schar said, while ending his closing argument.
Now it's up to the jury to decide.
Rod Blagojevich, once again, waits.