Rod Blagojevich's Lawyers Argue to Have Conspiracy Charges Dismissed

You can have a conspiracy entered into by fools and bumblers ... and it's still a conspiracy.”

— Judge James Zagel

I believe, by baseball standards, 'heavy hitter' is a ridiculously inappropriate phrase to describe him [Rod Blagojevich]. In political terms, this was a guy who was batting .110 in class D minor league.

— Judge James Zagel

As a part of procedure, lawyers for Rod Blagojevich are arguing before Judge James Zagel to have conspiracy charges against the ex-governor dropped. The hearing only involves lawyers; the jury was dismissed earlier and told to return Monday.

Defense attorney Lauren Kaeseberg says the government has failed to meet the burden of proof in its case. She says prosecutors have proven that Blagojevich talked a lot, but there was no furtherance toward a conspiracy.

"What they've shown is a lot of talk, a lot of speech, a lot of words spoken on the phone," Kaeseberg says. "That means if I've researched a crime, I've attempted to commit that crime? If I've talked about a crime I've attempted to commit that crime?

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar argues there was plenty of action.

Perhaps stealing a page from the defense team's upcoming closing argument, U.S. District Judge James Zagel just described Rod Blagojevich as "desperate" and "out of touch with reality" in the months leading up to his arrest.

During a hearing outside the jury's presence this afternoon, the judge suggested Blagojevich may have been blowing off steam when he talked about various schemes, specifically one plan to fill Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat with someone who would step down in two years and let Blagojevich take the seat. In one secretly recorded conversation, Blagojevich refers to himself as a "heavy-hitter" -- a suggestion that Zagel said he found "striking."

"Heavy-hitter is a ridiculous (description)," Zagel said. "This was a guy who was batting .110 in the D-minor leagues."

As part of housekeeping matters, lawyers for both Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, have asked Zagel to issue a directed verdict and dismiss the charges against them.

Such motions are routine in criminal cases and are rarely granted.