Jurors get case in Blago trial

July 29, 2010 4:35:28 AM PDT
The fate of former governor Rod Blagojevich is now in the hands of 12 jurors. Deliberations could last days.

Blagojevich briefly addressed reporters after the judge dismissed jurors for the deliberation process to begin. He thanked his supporters and said it is "gratifying" to him when people thank him for child healthcare and free senior rides on the CTA.

He then thanked the jurors.

"Now it's a period where we have to wait," said Blagojevich. "Patti and I have great confidence and faith in their judgment and decency ... ultimately it's in God's hands."

Blagojevich's attorneys, the father/son team of Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr, then spoke.

"This team did our best. We gave our heart," said Sam Adam Jr., who said his relationship with Blagojevich transcends lawyer/client. Adam said Blagojevich's All Kids health program saved his premature daughter's life. "I love Rod Blagojevich," he said.

"He may be a goof, but he's an innocent goof," said Sam Adam Sr.

The Adams filed a motion for a mistrial on Wednesday. Judge James Zagel has not said when he will rule on the motion.

Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich, who is charged in four counts in the corruption case, said he is "optimistic I'll be found not guilty."

Jurors received the case just before noon on Wednesday. They then received instructions and began deliberations, which could last for several days. On Wednesday, they set a schedule for deliberations of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their job is to decide whether the impeached Illinois governor tried to sell President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and schemed to use his political power for personal gain.

No one can predict how quickly this jury will reach a verdict. They have 102 secret tape recordings, mountains of documents, instructions to follow, and a verdict form to understand. And, until now, they haven't been able to discuss with each other anything they've heard in court over the last seven weeks.

Blagojevich's wife, Patti, who has attended court every day, sat next to the former governor, knitting, as the judge went over some housekeeping items before dismissing the jury to start the deliberation process. The Blagojevichs' daughters did not attend. Their teenage daughter, Amy, became visibly upset during Tuesday's closing arguments and rebuttal. Amy and her sister, Annie, 7, both attended court Monday.

Blagojevich, 53, faces 24 counts, including trying to sell or trade an appointment to a Senate seat left open by Barack Obama for his own post, a job or campaign money. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The 12 jurors and five alternates -- made up of 10 women and seven men -- reported to court at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The five alternates were removed during deliberations, leaving six men and six women. Eight of the jurors are white, three are black, and one is Asian. They include a Japanese-American man who was born in a World War II detention camp and served in the Marines, a public school teacher and a retired letter carrier.

Jurors will receive six copies of the jury instructions and six copies of the indictment. It's the second time in a row an Illinois governor has been charged with corruption while in office.

The jurors have heard seven weeks of testimony in the corruption trial. During closing arguments, attorneys for Blagojevich painted a picture of a bumbling governor who talks too much and has bad judgment in people, but is not a criminal. The prosecution argued Blagojevich is a smart communicator who engaged in schemes to make money and gain power in exchange for state business.

"This guy had more training in criminal background than the average lawyer and somehow this guy is the accidentally corrupt governor?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar.

"He's got absolutely horrible judgment on people," Sam Adam Jr., defense attorney, said. "And that's this case and they want you to find him guilty of these horrible things because of that."

Dozens of secretly recorded FBI tapes were played during the trial.

"You heard the tapes, and you heard Rod on the tapes," said Adam, who described his client as naive but not a criminal. "You can infer what was in Rod's mind on the tapes. You can infer from those tapes whether he's trying to extort the president of the United States. We heard tape after tape of just talking."

"He knows how to communicate, that is what he does for a living," Schar said. "He's good at it."

Adam, known for his theatrical style, stormed around the room, raising his voice from a whisper to a roar for effect. He addressed the fact Blagojevich did not testify despite his promise to do so.

"I thought he'd sit right up here," Adam shouted, walking over to the witness stand and pointing at the empty chair. "I promised he'd testify. We were wrong. Blame me."


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