ComEd four defendants score some strategic wins before trial begins – Crain’s Chicago Business

In a motion last month, lawyers for Pramaggiore and three former lobbyists for the utility argued that “any evidence or argument regarding the statements in the DPA is irrelevant and would only be offered to improperly suggest that the company’s statements are statements made by defendants in this case or that the fact that ComEd entered into the DPA proves that ComEd believes that defendants are guilty.”

But Leinenweber ruled against Pramaggiore and the others in their bid to keep their compensation by ComEd and parent Exelon out of evidence in the trial.

“What the defendants had to gain from ComEd is highly relevant,” Leinenweber said in a conference call with lawyers for the prosecution and defense.

The judge also agreed to a request by Patrick Cotter, attorney for former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain, that prosecutors shouldn’t release tapes of wiretapped conversations to the media after they were introduced at trial. Cotter had argued for a broader bar on prosecutors providing the media with exhibits once they’ve been introduced, but that was quickly rejected.

However, providing tapes “would sensationalize things more than we want,” Leinenweber said.

Prosecutors can provide the press transcripts of the intercepted conversations in the interest of accuracy, the judge said.

The trial of Pramaggiore; McClain, who is portrayed by prosecutors as the primary conduit between ComEd and former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose favor ComEd sought to curry; former Exelon and ComEd lobbyist John Hooker; and former ComEd lobbyist Jay Doherty is the most high-profile political corruption case in Illinois since the conviction of Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2011.

The trial is expected to last up to two months. It became clear why today with word the prosecution has a list of 70 potential witnesses. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Streicker promised to provide the defense with the first three witnesses on Monday.

A key witness will be Fidel Marquez, a former ComEd senior vice president who cooperated with prosecutors and wore a wire in 2019, capturing conversations with Hooker, McClain and others. Leinenweber granted defense motions barring Marquez from providing his conclusions of what certain conversations meant and instead offering his perceptions.

Another win for the defense was Leinenweber’s denial of prosecutors’ attempt to bar defense lawyers from arguing that the conduct in evidence represented “politics as usual” and wasn’t illegal. That argument is one that’s central not just to this case, but to the trial scheduled for next year of Madigan in connection with the ComEd bribery scheme and other acts.


via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

March 9, 2023 at 02:33PM

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