Jury deliberations begin in Blagojevich retrial

June 10, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The former governor was summoned to the courtroom Friday on the first full of jury deliberations in his corruption retrial. Blagojevich was called to court after the jury said it has a question for the judge.

The jury has elected a foreperson. We don't who that person is. For that matter, we don't know names of any of the jurors, and we won't until the conclusion of their deliberations. They have set a schedule: They will deliberate Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Friday, for the first time, they began discussing with each other the last six weeks of testimony.

Jury members have watched and listened for the last six weeks. They have been unfailingly attentive, and most of them took copious notes.

There is a waitress, a pension plan administrator, two retirees in their 60s, a teacher, a dental assistant, a nutritionist who is a triathlete, a former Naval officer, a librarian with two degrees, a one-time director of music and liturgy for her parish, a former director of sales for a manufacturing company, and the only male -- in his 50s -- is currently unemployed.

Juries often have questions when they deliberate. As a matter of course, defendants are called to court when they do. Rod Blagojevich was called to court Friday afternoon, not because there was a question, but because the judge wanted to know directly from him if he would be willing to waive coming to court if this jury has minor questions during deliberations. And the ex governor said fine.

The defense in this case has been critical of Judge James Zagel, saying his rulings have not been fair, and that he essentially compelled Blagojevich to testify.

Attorney Lauren Kaeseberg said Friday afternoon, "The truth is you may not like us or our client. All we're asking is that you -- as you told the jury -- set aside any opinions you may have formed."

The judge replied, saying his rulings have been based on fact, not opinion. "I have not been called upon to decide. That's the jury's job, not mine, and I'm not interested in doing someone else's work," Zagel said.

The judge then criticized the defense for what he said were attempts to smuggle in evidence, stall, and pursue questions they were earlier told not to.

And, as to Blagojevich's decision to testify, the judge said, he testified because it was clearly his best choice. He knew he narrowly escaped conviction in the first trial, that the government had streamlined its case, and further, he would announced he was eager to testify, and that, said the judge, is why he took the stand.

Having said all that, the judge then denied the defense motion for a mistrial.

List of charges Blagojevich faces:

  • #1 - 10 Wire Fraud
  • #11 Attempted Extortion
  • #12 Attempted Extortion
  • #13 Soliciting a Bribe
  • #14 Extortion Conspiracy
  • #15 Bribery Conspiracy
  • #16 Attempted Extortion
  • #17 Soliciting a Bribe
  • #18 Extortion Conspiracy
  • #19 Attempted Extortion
  • #20 Bribery Conspiracy

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