Rod Blagojevich

Come on babe, why don’t we paint the town; and all that jazz!
I’m gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down; and all that jazz!
Start the car, I know a whoopee spot; Where the gin is cold, but the piano’s hot!
It’s just a noisy hall; where there’s a nightly brawl
And all… that… jazz…

It’s really a great day to be stuck in Chicago. The weather is pleasant today but not sweltering. The Cubbies have a home game. And former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will take the stand in his own defense. Add in a deep dish pizza and a taping of Oprah, and you could have the full Chicago experience all in one day.

So what can we expect from the governor turned “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant turned criminal defendant?

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Carte Goodwin

* Studying for the bar? Here are the top 10 people you want to kill. [Legally Noted]

* Are the Mel Gibson tapes admissible in court? Here is one lawyer’s opinion. [Blogonaut]

* Goldman Sachs won’t take a tax deduction on its $550 million settlement with the SEC. [TaxProf Blog]

* Holy Hotties, Batman! West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin will appoint his hunky ex-GC, Carte Goodwin, 36, to the Senate seat formerly held by the late Senator Robert Byrd. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Rod Blagojevich’s crassness has been established beyond a reasonable doubt — but what about his alleged corruption? [Chicago News Cooperative]

* The courthouse is not a boxing ring. Except maybe in Scranton. [Allentown Morning Call]

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with corruption for — among other things — allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Blagojevich has not been hiding from the public eye. Since being charged, he has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and competed in The Celebrity Apprentice (Donald Trump fired him in the fourth episode).

The trial is set for June 3. Blagojevich’s defense team is sparring with federal prosecutors over the 500 hours of recordings from secret FBI wiretaps, and how they should be used at trial. The big-haired former governor wants jurors to sit through 200 hours of tape.

Blagojevich’s love of being on camera has not faded. He has a J.D. from Pepperdine, but must have a certification in spin and cliché from some other venerable institution. He issued a challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at a press conference on Tuesday. The bombastic display drew media cameras, but didn’t do much to bring the judge around to his side. A round-up of Blagojevichisms from Tuesday’s press conference, after the jump.

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vampires lost boys.jpg* Mumbai high court upholds 1995 decision invalidating licenses for White & Case, Ashurst and Chadbourne & Park to open firms in India. Unless the government changes the law, that goes for any other non-Indian firm that wants to open an office there. Partnerships with Indian firms and offshore work still welcome, of course. [Bloomberg]

* An Indiana judge survives a vampire attack. [Associated Press]

* Will Obama be called to testify in Blago’s trial? [Chicago Tribune]

* Closing arguments in the other huge American criminal trial in Italy this year. [ComputerWorld]

* Bankruptcy judge James Peck okays $50 million in bonuses for Lehman bankers. [Bloomberg]

* Disturbing lawyer of the day Aaron Biber posts $500,000 bail. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]

crocs.jpg* Crocs have no teeth when it comes to fighting legal battles. The footwear company has settled five design defect lawsuits filed by parents whose children suffered escalator injuries. [On Point News]
* Yolanda Young’s suit against Covington & Burling is back on. [BLT]
* The ATL editors are not the only legal groupies in New York. [New York Times via Gothamist]
* Blago’s judge is prepared for theatrics in the court. [Associated Press]
* Looks like Rihanna and Chris Brown may be violating the judge’s “two-way” stay-away order. [New York Post]
* The latest abortion legislation. [Slate]
* Senators Orrin Hatch and John Cornyn will vote against Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. [Associated Press]
* Law school students interning in the Brooklyn DA’s office lack salaries and chairs. [New York Times]
* Is the ABA a club that’s not cool anymore? [National Law Journal]

University of Illinois College of Law logo.JPGThis morning, we mentioned the University of Illinois College of Law admissions scandal. It appears that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pressured the University of Illinois Chancellor, Richard Herman, and Heidi Hurd, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, to admit underqualified students who were politically connected. In exchange for admitting those students, university officials attempted to obtain jobs for graduates of the College of Law.
The Chicago Tribune reports the results of its investigation into the law school:

The documents show for the first time efforts to seek favors — in this case, jobs — for admissions, the most troubling evidence yet of how Illinois’ entrenched system of patronage crept into the state’s most prestigious public university.
They also detail the law school’s system for handling “Special Admits,” students backed by the politically connected, expanding the scope of a scandal prompted by a Chicago Tribune investigation.

The paper has published the incriminating emails (PDF) it has uncovered. Warning, these emails are not safe for naive people who are unaccustomed with the “Chicago style” of getting things done. Here’s an exchange between the Chancellor and the Dean about what jobs would be appropriate in exchange for admitting politically connected students:
Thumbnail image for Illinois Law incriminating emails 1.JPG
I suppose there are worse things than a dean trying to aggressively secure employment for her law graduates can’t pass the bar and can’t think. Of course, you’d hope that the dean would be even more focused on educating students so that they can pass the bar and, you know, think — but why cry over spilled milk?
In fact, some Illinois law graduates we spoke with had a very positive impression of Dean Hurd. Depending, of course, on what you mean by positive.
Some student impressions of the dean, and more emails, after the jump.

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titanic.jpg* A U.S. District Judge in Virginia, Rebecca Beach Smith, will soon decide whether preserved Titanic artifacts must remain available to the public. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

* Adam Liptak gives us a lively look into the Supreme Court discussion about the highly critical Hillary documentary. [The New York Times]

* Obama’s lawyers were in lock-step with Bush policies Tuesday, arguing in favor of the decision to refuse one of Europe’s leading Muslim intellectuals entry in to the U.S. [Reuters]

* Pakistan’s supreme court chief justice returned to court Tuesday amid dancing supporters. [The Associated Press]

* Attorneys cringe as Blagojevich continues to put himself in the spotlight despite his pending federal corruption indictment. [The Associated Press]

* Dreier LLP may be able to reduce a $29 million claim from Wachovia. They need all the help they can get. [Greenwich Time]

* Barney Frank defends calling Scalia a “homophobe.” [The Boston Globe]

ATL 2008 in review.jpgIn Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you to cast your vote for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

More than three thousand ballots were cast, but there can be only one Lawyer of the Year.

Starting at the bottom, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may not have hit the very lowest point in Chicago political history, but he did manage to get the lowest tally in our vote, with only 96 supporters.

Harvard Law Avenger Phil Telfeyan was a close second-to-last in your esteem, with a mere 110 votes.

funny-pictures-princess-cat-is-finally-being-recognized.jpgJudge Halverson rounded out the bottom three at 167 votes.

That makes THREE! THREE! THREE candidates who did worse than Count Layoffula! HA! HA! HA! (He received a total of 233 votes.)

Listen dude, you really want the Spitzer? Apparently not. The prosecutor-turned-commentator came up only average in our slate of nominees, with 288 votes.

Nervous T-10 1L may not have found a job this year, but he touched the hearts of 428 voters, landing him in the Final Four.

Marc Dreier — if that’s his real name — swindled up 485 ballots, more votes than disgraced governors Eliot Spitzer and Rod Blagojevich combined. Way to rock the scandal vote, sir. You’re the Second Runner-Up for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

That leaves us with the final two. Will last year’s runner-up, President-elect Barack Obama, finally be Number That One? Or will The Anonymous Laid-Off Big Firm Attorney finally get something to soothe his pain? (Elie won’t share his pot.)

Find out who will be crowned the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

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Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGSome have wondered: Where was star litigator Dan Webb at Governor Rod Blagojevich’s bond hearing?

High-powered Winston & Strawn litigators Dan Webb and Bradley Lerman were not at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s side when he appeared at a bond hearing on Tuesday. Blagojevich instead tapped Sheldon Sorosky, a lawyer from two-partner Chicago litigation shop Kaplan & Sorosky. Whither Winston & Strawn?

Here’s a possible answer, from the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 in unpaid bills to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago. It is unclear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both. Campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor’s campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.

“Friends of Blagojevich”: probably in short supply right now.

Update: As noted in the comments, if Winston & Strawn isn’t eager to rep Rod, it’s understandable. Recall how the firm blew $20 million defending Illinois’s last corrupt governor, George Ryan. It lost the trial, lost the appeal, and couldn’t even get pro bono credit for the thousands of hours spent on the case.

Blagojevich Has $500,000 in Unpaid Legal Bills [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

Webb-less in Chicago: Where Was the Star Litigator At Blago’s Bond Hearing? [Am Law Daily]

Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGYesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich made news with “dangerous” threats about halting all state business with Bank of America until the Republic Windows & Doors fiasco is sorted out.

Today, Blagojevich learned the old rule: “Let he who is not under investigation for ‘staggering’ corruption cast the first stone.” The Chicago Tribune (which is still allowed access to ink and paper) reports:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning….

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

Apparently, the government has a lot of the evidence against Blagojevich on tape.

An investigation years in the making, after the jump.

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