The federal corruption trial for Chris Wright, City Councilman Jack Kelly's former chief of staff, and three of his political allies should get back under way within the hour. The defense rested yesterday afternoon. Prosecutors are expected to begin their closing arguments at 11 a.m., followed by defense attorneys for Wright, attorney Andy Teitelman and his two clients, developers Hardeep and Ravinder Chawla.
Teitelman and the Chawla brothers are accused of bribing Wright with $1,000, a rent-free apartment and free legal services for several personal problems in return for help on real estate and tax matters with city officials and agencies.
Check back here during the day for updates on the closing arguments. U.S. District Justice Eduardo Robreno told the jury yesterday that they may begin deliberating this afternoon.
UPDATE, 11 am: Yesterday the judge locked us in the courtroom while he dismissed a juror from his chambers. Today he has locked us out while attorneys for the defense and prosecution attorneys hash out instructions for the jury before they start deliberating. One of the judge's clerks said Robreno didn't want the attorneys interrupted during this task, which was supposed to be done by 11 a.m. But the wheels of justice turn slow. So it looks now like closing arguments won't start until noon at the earliest.
UPDATE, 12 pm: Courtroom cliche revision -- Did we say the wheels of justice turn slow? How slow? So slow you can't even see them move. The judge just sent everyone to lunch for an hour. We should be able to actually enter the courtroom at 1 p.m.
UPDATE, 1 pm: Still no entry for the public, as the attorneys continue to hash out the jury instructions for the judge. Scheduling is a growing problem. With a the prosecution and four defense attorneys, that's five closing arguments. If this goes much longer, we might not get all that in today. Will the judge spread closing arguments over two days? And if the jury doesn't get the case until tomorrow, will they wind up coming back next Tuesday? Monday is Presidents Day and the federal courthouse is closed. Defense attorneys are worried about the jury, on the trial more than two weeks already, having to wait out a long weekend and come back to start all over again.
UPDATE, 1:35 pm: The courtroom is now open, although the trial is not yet under way again. Defense attorneys seem to be anticipating some closing arguments today and the rest tomorrow morning. Looks like the jury won't get the case until tomorrow afternoon.
UPDATE, 1:50 pm: The judge just decided to send the jury home. Closing arguments have been pushed until tomorrow morning at 8:45 a.m. The defense attorneys are going to use the rest of the day to finish their work on the jury instructions.