Feds keen to give early glimpse of Blago evidence

 
Posted1/9/2010 12:01 AM

Federal prosecutors agreed Friday to give former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorneys an early look at some of the evidence the government has in store for them at his corruption trial -- but not as much as they want.

The prosecutors also said in court papers that the defense attorneys shouldn't expect to get the materials as soon as they want them and should never get some items, such as a witness list or a bill of particulars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prosecutors said in skirmishing mainly meaningful to lawyers that listing the names of the witnesses could open them up to improper pre-trial pressure.

"The security and potential harassment of the potential witnesses cuts against providing the defendants with a list of witness identities," the government said in a 16-page brief submitted to federal Judge James B. Zagel.

It said a questionnaire being prepared for prospective jurors and other documents would give Blagojevich's attorneys some good clues as to whom the prosecutors plan to call to the witness stand.

Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, are due to go to trial July 3, charged with scheming to sell or trade President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and improprieties in raising money for the Friends of Rod Blagojevich campaign fund.

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His attorneys asked Zagel, who is to preside at the trial, to require the government to provide them with an early look at the evidence, saying the trial will be so complex with so many documents that they need to get started immediately.

Reached at his law firm Friday afternoon, Blagojevich attorney Samuel E. Adam said he had not seen the government's response to the request but that there was "no reason they can't give us the things we asked for."

Zagel most likely will take up the issue at a hearing set for Jan. 27.

Prosecutors said most of the documents defense attorneys have requested "have been provided well in advance of any date set by this court or any constitutional requirements."

The government said it will turn over witness statements and impeaching materials about March 3, even though the rules say it doesn't have to do so until after the witnesses take the stand and testify.

Impeaching materials can range from the witness's addiction to alcohol or drugs to whatever criminal record he may have to any fees the government paid him.

Defense attorneys asked Zagel to order the government to file its so-called Santiago proffer -- a preview of the evidence often presented to the court in conspiracy cases -- four months in advance. The prosecutors said they are willing to file it two months in advance.