No questions from Blagojevich jurors on 5th day

August 2, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
Jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich ended their fifth day of deliberations without a question.

Jurors had no questions for Judge James Zagel on Tuesday. They will work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until they reach a verdict. Deliberations could take days.

Dozens of media outlets, as well as attorneys for both the prosecution and defense, are on high alert at the Dirksen Federal Building waiting for a verdict.

Former juror talks about high-profile case deliberations

No one knows what's going on behind the closed doors, but Linda Filipello, who served as foreman of the jury that convicted Scott Fawell, chief of staff to former governor George Ryan, seven years ago.

"Unless you've served on a jury, you don't really know what goes on in that room," said Filipello. "When you are there as a juror, you listen to these days and days and weeks of testimony, you -- I want to say, 'You're wrong!'? You need to sit there quietly. And just listen."

Like the Blagojevich case, Fawell was accused of racketeering, among other things. Filipello's jury took six days of deliberating to find a verdict after a six-week trial. On the first day of deliberations in the Fawell case, Filipello asked her fellow jurors about count one. Every juror- except Filipello- said "guilty."

"Right now you're coming off a high from listening to all this for six weeks and all the excitement? I said, let's prove it first," said Filipello.

She said it took one day just to understand the legal instructions.

"Some of them had a couple of questions- let's work it out. We'll just keep reading and reading and somebody here will figure it out, and we did it collectively," said Filipello.

Filipello, a businesswoman from the suburbs, saw her job as managing the jury's discussion - not controlling it. Early in their six days of deliberations, Filipello borrowed a small stuffed animal that a fellow juror brought with her each day. The rule was you could only talk while holding the stuffed animal. When done, pass it on.

"It sounds juvenile or silly, but it's not. It helped them to focus and make their point? by the third day we didn't need the animal anymore and that was really cool," said FIlipello.

Filipello said a long, high profile trial can be very stressful.

"And then the attorney, either the prosecuting or defense, they are looking at you because they are trying to read you. You know they are trying to read you. So you sit there almost stone faced. And that's stressful. I would go home at night and sometimes I would actually cry just to release some of the tension. Then you can't tell anybody what you're doing," said Filipello.

Only the jurors know how long the deliberations will last in the Blagojevich corruption case.

The former governor and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, have both pleaded not guilty to the corruption charges, including trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama.


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