Intelligence Report: New jury rule in Blago trial

February 8, 2011 4:28:56 PM PST
The re-trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on public corruption charges is two months away.

In Tuesday's Intelligence Report: we've learned that an unusual new jury rule will be in place.

After the jury deadlocked on 23 of 24 corruption counts against Rod Blagojevich last August, the biggest question was why?

Right after the verdict was delivered and the jurors names were released, there was a mad media scramble to find them and get some answers.

This time, U.S. District Judge James Zagel is making that much more difficult.

After Mr. Blagojevich left the courthouse -- convicted only of lying -- news organizations aggressively tried to locate and interview jurors, especially the single juror who blocked conviction on most counts.

Several jurors spoke, but others called police and the U.S. Marshal service to complain about media harassment.

So trial Judge Zagel issued an order Tuesday that will give jurors a head start on news organizations.

In the filing, Zagel cited "incidents occurring after jurors names were released" and so he has ordered in the next trial that the names of anonymous jurors will be "publicly released eight hours after the verdict is returned."

So, if the verdict is announced in the afternoon, that would effectively mean the next day.

Also, the Blagojevich corruption case is now bleeding over into the Chicago mayoral race, with the ex-governor's lawyers claiming that pieces of key evidence are missing including tapes of phone calls with then-White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel about filling Illinois' open Senate seat.

The phone conversations are "mysteriously missing" from the collection of evidence held by prosecutors, according to a filing by Mr. Blagojevich's defense team.

"I have been asked by the president and the president's transition team to provide four names, which I did and there was a question of what was in it and I responded 'with thanks and appreciate.' And I think you also know how the governor responded," said Rahm Emanuel, candidate for Chicago mayor.

"There should be a full accounting before they go to the polls and know what was talked about and how much and every time we turn around, something is missing," said Gery Chico, candidate for Chicago mayor

Blagojevich's lawyers clearly state in the federal court filing that they are not alleging Rahm Emanuel did anything wrong or was aware of criminal conduct.

The missing tapes motion coming two weeks before Chicago's mayoral election does resurrect Emanuel's connections to Blagojevich at what has to be considered an inopportune time for the candidate.