Blagojevich Lawyer: Ex-Gov Might Not Testify

Updated at 5:59 p.m. ET

Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich said Tuesday they disagree about whether the ousted Illinois governor should testify in his own defense - as he has long promised he would - and whether they should call any defense witnesses at all.

If Blagojevich does not testify, it would bring an unexpectedly swift end to a corruption trial that was expected to last throughout the summer. He is accused of charges including trying to sell or trade an appointment to the Senate seat that Barack Obama left behind after being elected president.

Jurors would not hear directly from a politician who loudly proclaimed his innocence both to reporters and on reality television. It would also mean that the only time Blagojevich's voice was heard in court was on secret FBI wiretap tapes played by prosecutors and attorneys for his brother, who is also charged.

Blagojevich's attorney, Sam Adam Sr., said he feels the former governor should not testify because he does not believe the government has proven its case, and that the real issue is whether to call any defense witnesses at all.

His son, Sam Adam Jr., said he thinks Blagojevich should testify because attorneys promised in their opening statement that he would. But he said the ultimate decision is Blagojevich's, and he acknowledged that there was a risk in putting his client on the stand.

"Do we give credence to the government's case?" Adam said. "They haven't proven anything."

When asked what specifically in the prosecution prompted them to consider not putting the impeached governor on the stand, Adam responded, "The entire case."

He said attorneys would discuss the matter Tuesday evening and make an announcement Wednesday morning.

Rod Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in a scheme to sell or trade the Senate seat. He has also pleaded not guilty to plotting to launch a racketeering operation in the governor's office.

His brother, Robert Blagojevich, 54, now a real estate entrepreneur from Nashville, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the alleged Senate seat plot and to a wire fraud charge that he was involved in pressuring two businessmen illegally for campaign funds.

The former governor arrived for court Tuesday in his usual upbeat mood, holding hands with his wife, Patti. He smiled and waved to a large crowd of people. Someone in the crowd asked Blagojevich: "Are you going on?" But Blagojevich didn't answer as he walked by a cordon and entered the courtroom.

It is rare and risky for defendants in federal trials to testify in their own defense. Experts say Rod Blagojevich would need to abandon his usual cockiness, humble himself, and not allow himself to be goaded.

His testimony could be riveting because as a lawyer, he knows how to ham other attorneys and as a politician, he knows how to handle voters, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

"Blagojevich needs to convince the people that he's just a blow hard, that he was just venting, that he had no illegal intent, that he wasn't taking money from anyone, and he was just conducting business like politics should be conducted," noted defense attorney Steven Greenberg told Bowers.


Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App