Now that closing arguments have wrapped up in the corruption trial of ex-governor Rod Blagojevich, observers across the country can only wait anxiously until the jury turns in their verdict.
And, as the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday, perhaps no one is waiting more anxiously than defense attorney Sam Adam, Jr.
Adam, the charismatic trial attorney who led the Blagojevich defense team, is not his normal ebullient self as he waits to hear the fate of perhaps his best-known client. The Tribune explains:
Adam will not discuss the case while the jury is still out, but he acknowledges being on edge as he awaits the verdict. There's usually a frenetic energy around the affable criminal-defense lawyer, but the current waiting game has made him less chatty, more introspective and prone to second-guessing his trial performance.
"I'm so nervous, I can't eat. I can't sleep," he says. "I'm dead tired, so it's tough to stay focused. I'm sort of a wreck."
Adam Jr. is on the impeached governor's defense team with his father, Sam Adam Sr., as well a team of other lawyers. But without calling any witnesses (not even Blago himself, who long swore he would testify), the defense has relied largely on the strength of its opening and closing arguments. And those arguments have been delivered in dramatic fashion Adam Jr.
For Adam, showmanship is not a self-indulgent idiosyncrasy; it's a legal strategy, a courtroom philosophy. "A jury trial is a show, nothing but a show," Adam said in an interview with Chicago magazine. "He who puts on the best show, he who entertains the most, he who can bring [his] point in the most effective way, wins. Hands down."
Throughout his career, it's been an enormously successful strategy. In cases where he delivered the closing arguments, Adam has won 60, and lost only five. For comparison, breaking even is considered admirable for criminal defense attorneys.
In July 2009, one of Adam's clients was acquitted on charges of stabbing his neighbor 61 times, after Adam persuaded the jury that the neighbor tried to sexually assault him.
Most famously, Adam successfully defended R&B superstar R. Kelly against charges of child pornography. Despite fourteen witnesses identifying Kelly on the videotape, Adam's sweating, emotive closing argument was again able to sow the seeds of doubt in the jury's mind.
But the Blagojevich trial was a different story. Judge James Zagel repeatedly curtailed Adam's antics, even threatening him with contempt at one point in the trial. And despite a typically impassioned closing argument, Sam Jr. can only replay the tape in his mind, and wait for the jury to reach their conclusions.
"Of course you second-guess yourself," he told the Tribune. "I have nothing to do but wait. So I replay the entire trial in my head and wonder if I should have done something differently. But I believe I did the best I could."