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Jury didn’t buy the act that charmed the rest of the state

Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The jurors in Rod Blagojevich’s trial saw through the hokum

Jury forewoman Connie Wilson, 56, of Naperville, said she thought she recognized what Blagojevich was up to when he started picking and choosing details from his personal history. The details appeared to mirror personal information that came out when the judge questioned the jury pool before testimony began, she said.

“I said, ‘Do you remember what he talked about . . . [while testifying about his home] library?’ ” Wilson said she told other jurors during their deliberations. “He pointed to something in the library that pertained to almost everybody on the jury.”

She said jurors started piecing it together.

Over his seven days of testimony, Blagojevich mentioned books, targeting a librarian on the jury; pointed out an interest in music, directing the comment toward Wilson, the former choral director at Holy Spirit Catholic Community in Naperville; and discussed the importance of education, to connect with a teacher, Wilson said. “He even brought out at one point something about Boston, and of course our gentleman was a huge Boston fan,” she said with a laugh, remembering the male juror’s many Boston-themed T-shirts.

Know hope.

* Speaking of hope, a commenter pointed out this recent New York Times story about how Bernie Madoff’s judge decided to go with the ultimate max in his sentencing order

Judge Chin said he quickly rejected the idea of a 12-year sentence for Mr. Madoff, but pondered whether 20 to 25 years might be acceptable. He ultimately concluded that even that “would have been just way too low.”

“In the end, I just thought he didn’t deserve it,” he said. “The benefits of giving him hope were far outweighed by all of the other considerations.”

Judge Chin would impose a term of 150 years on Mr. Madoff, perhaps the most stunning and widely discussed sentencing in the history of American white-collar crime. In doing so, he seemed to find a way to translate society’s rage into a number.

And New York legal analyst Jami Floyd makes a prediction

You will recall that many of the experts who are now predicting a ten-year sentence for Blagojevich also predicted a ten-year sentence for Bernard Madoff. Madoff was older (71). He was also convicted in federal court and the sentencing guidelines in that case suggested a 13-year term. Instead, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years and will never see the light of day. I predict a slightly kinder, gentler sentence for Blagojevich; something in the order of 20-25 years.

* More legal analysis. This time, about the appeal

Veteran appeals lawyer Joel Bertocchi said that in his experience, broad-based claims of unfairness don’t usually work.

“He needs to show specifically how (the recordings) would have helped and how the defense was seriously injured by the inability to play them,” he said. […]

Another obstacle to a successful appeal could be Blagojevich’s own testimony, Bertocchi said. Many of the judges on the appeals court were once trial judges themselves, he said, and they know that once a defendant testifies, that’s more or less the ballgame.

The jury either believes you or, as in Blagojevich’s case, it doesn’t.

…Adding… Oops. I forgot to post this important piece of the puzzle

Where will Rod Blagojevich serve his time?

It may depend on how much time he has to serve.

It’s up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to place a prisoner, but experts say that the length of Blagojevich’s sentence could be a key factor in deciding whether the former governor is in a place with guards and bars or in a place with khakis and cards.

Defendants who are sentenced to more than 10 years in prison typically don’t get a spot in the more-desired prison camps, said defense attorney Jeffrey Steinback, who is regarded as an expert in federal sentencing and who has testified before the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

…Adding More… I missed this one

Rod Blagojevich won’t likely ever set foot in a courtroom again as a practicing attorney thanks to the sweeping corruption convictions a federal jury handed down.

The top lawyer for the Illinois Supreme Court’s Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, the legal panel that polices lawyer misconduct, said it is a virtual certainty Blagojevich will be disbarred as a result of his convictions.

* Bizarre

Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist were both upset by the decision. “It is a miscarriage of justice. They can’t prove it,” said Scarborough. Geist lamented, “I grew up in a country where you only had to stand trial once for a crime. Didn’t they already go through this once? Nothing stuck.”

Scarborough laid his law degree on the table: “Here’s the deal. I don’t want to talk about it a lot, but I am a lawyer. And I can tell you, I didn’t have to go to law school to learn about a little concept called double jeopardy…The entire weight of the government leaning down on him. The jury goes, “no, we see nothing wrong with this man except perhaps his hair cut.” And then he wins and then they throw the entire weight of the federal government on him again twice. I’m sorry. That’s just not the America I grew up in. ”

What Scarborough forgets (or never learned) is that the Blagojevich case is not subject to double jeopardy. The Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy is designed to protect the acquitted from multiple and repeated prosecutions, and only applies to cases in which a verdict has been reached. Because 23 of the counts against Blagojevich were declared mistrials, no judgment had been reached. According to Chicago defense attorney Ava George Stewart, “if the jury had decided that Blagojevich was not guilty, then the government could not retry him, as they have already indicated they intend to do. In this case, Double Jeopardy is inapplicable.”

* National pundits were wrong again. No surprise, since most don’t bother to do even basic fact-checking and just repeat pre-approved talking points

Last fall, when Rahm Emanuel left his post as White House chief of staff, some political analysts warned that his dealings with Blagojevich could doom his chances to be elected mayor of Chicago.

But Emanuel easily won. And while he testified briefly at Blagojevich’s second trial, he was never accused of any wrongdoing. In fact, on the charge directly involving Emanuel — that Blagojevich tried to shake down Emanuel for a fundraiser — jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

What the clueless pundits deliberately failed to realize was that Blagojevich had predicted that Emanuel could clear him. He was actually right on one point. The juror failed to convict the former governor on charges that he had attempted to extort a campaign fundraiser from Emanuel’s brother in exchange for releasing grant money to a school in Emanuel’s congressional district back in 2006. Emanuel testified that he was never told of any proposed deal.

* And Jon Stewart was pretty darned funny last night


* Roundup…

* Lawmakers move to cut off Blagojevich’s pension

* Airline Ad Plays Off Blagojevich Conviction in Promoting ‘F-ing Golden’ Low Fares

* Only one Blagojevich juror from Chicago

* Naperville woman was reluctant to be Blagojevich jury foreman: “Some of the women actually said, ‘I’m sure we’re going to be characterized as the typical woman who talks ad nauseam,’ and you know, it really wasn’t that way,” she said. “Everybody was very much trying to find ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ and that’s what everything’s based on, and we would go back to that premise very often.”

* Tinley Park juror: Blago ‘really cheated the people of Illinois’: “He really cheated the people of Illinois, or tried to. He took an oath to do what was best for the people of Illinois and he didn’t do it. So we’ll have another governor in jail,” she said.

* Lone ‘gentleman’ juror doesn’t feel sorry for Rod Blagojevich

* Jurors at Blagojevich retrial say they used communication techniques, tried to stay in harmony: Wilson put her choir-directing skills, perfected at Naperville’s Holy Spirit church, to use in trying to track how the group was interacting and whether some jurors were out of sync. “With a choir, you’re looking for trouble spots in the music and going back,” she said. “I was listening to all the jurors, understanding where they were, then adjusting, go back.”

* Aurora juror finds relief as Blagojevich trial ends: Bennett said she was warned that Monday’s press conference after the verdict was handed down would not be the end of the media’s interest in her and other members of the jury. While some jurors were hesitant to talk to the press, Bennett said she felt it was part of her duty. She gladly sat down with a host of reporters on Tuesday to answer questions and give insight into what went on behind closed doors over the last couple months.

* Juror: ‘Most interesting thing I’ve ever done … And the most boring’:

* Juror from first trial praises Blago jury

* CityRoom video: Inside the media pit at the Blagojevich verdict


  1. - 42nd Ward - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:16 am:

    Pundits are saying between 5 and 12 years for Rod. I hope and believe it will be far higher.

  2. - Happy Returns - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:17 am:

    Funny to see Scarborough mimicking the SNL mockery of Star Jones - “Well, I’m a _lawyer_…”

    All the cable news nets are the Pro Wrestling of Politics - fake storylines and drama with ‘heels’, ‘heroes’ and ‘marks’.

  3. - Shore - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:20 am:

    How is Cellini relevant to this and is there anyone blago could give up that would lighten his sentence?

  4. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:21 am:

    ===is there anyone blago could give up that would lighten his sentence?===


  5. - truthman - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:24 am:

    Reform & Renewal…….Incarceration.

  6. - Meanderthal - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:30 am:

    I saw through the hokum in 1992 when Rod first ran for the General Assembly. He was and always has been a ball of cheese and an embarrassment. The Democratic pols, consultants and lobbyists who supported him but escaped indictment and media scrutiny should be held to account.

  7. - soccermom - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:32 am:

    I love Jon Stewart, but his math was off. The line about “elected governors of Illinois” did not include the current incumbent — who was elected in November. Update your files, Jon.

  8. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:33 am:

    Tinley Park Juror +==“He took an oath to do what was best for the people of Illinois and he didn’t do it.”===

    Another way of looking at it, at least in regards to trying to get a differnt job by selling the US Senate seat, is that had he been sucessful he may have quit and that would in fact have been best for the people of Illinois!

  9. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:34 am:

    Talk to Your Kids Before They Run For Office in Illinois

  10. - Secret Square - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:39 am:

    “Friends Don’t Let Friends Run For Illinois Public Office”

  11. - What's in a name? - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    I agree that I think the pundits are way off. I predict a 20 plus year sentence. I haven’t seen any mention of a possible indictment of Patti, has that gone away?

  12. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:44 am:

    –The Democratic pols, consultants and lobbyists who supported him but escaped indictment and media scrutiny should be held to account.–

    Next up, Bill Cellini, Mr. Illinois GOP.

    A lot of people played ball with Blago, on both sides of the aisle.

  13. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:46 am:


    I saw that Tinley Park juror’s comment and it cause me to do a double take. I thought the honest-service-type of argument had been found unconstitutional. However, if the verdict was filtered through this reasoning for all the counts, I am concerned. I would feel better about the verdict is I never saw this comment. I want to believe that each count stood on its own, and that the “harm to the people of Illinois” thought processes was never followed.

    It makes the jurors sound like they were exacting some retribution on Rod for some perceived harm to the state (Other than our reputation, what harm did Rod’s actions have?). Rod was a terrible governor, no doubt about it, but it is not the criminal justice system that makes those judgements, it should be the voters.

  14. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:54 am:

    As I predicted before the verdict, I knew the mostly female jury would pick up on Blago’s act, and wouldn’t appreciate his believing they would be gullible enough to fall for it. You can’t politic your way out of charges on the witness stand.

    As for Joe Scarborough, I was watching his show when he came out with these ignorant statements. Hardly the time to bring up your law degree. I noticed they moved along quickly, afterwards.

  15. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 11:55 am:

    Makes you wonder why Bill Brady keeps wanting to run for prison.

  16. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    I think them catching him using his library to ‘tap the bases’ was interesting. Too bad someone didn’t have a more obsure intrest that could have been funny.

    I also enjoy reading about Sweedish Language Pop Bands who use smokers.

  17. - Nikoli - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:12 pm:

    I found it ironic that when I watched the Daily Show clip, the embedded ad was for Rogaine.

  18. - D.P. Gumby - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:24 pm:

    So far the integrity of this jury is the high point of the entire deplorable situation. Having done some minor study of jury behavior, this group deserves scholarly research and write-up to serve as a good example for others, such as the Ryan jury.

  19. - park - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 12:44 pm:

    My guess is that the old ‘overly sympathetic female jury’ assumption got some holes knocked in it with this verdict. Message seems to be ‘we don’t have to yell at each other to reach the right decision’. Good for all of them. And yes, I wonder what it was like for the one guy.

    RE: Blago the lawyer….people who knew him at the only place he ever did legal work (Cook County State’s Attorney), tell me he was a lightweight and not really interested in the law anyway. I don’t thing the loss of his license will much affect the rest of his life.

  20. - Newsclown - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:04 pm:

    I’m waiting for Geraldo Rivera to explain all this to us…. you might remember how in-the-bag he was for Blago the first time. Delicious.

  21. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:05 pm:

    I just hope that RB gets offered some prison term options that would include him forgoing any attempts to appeal the convictions/sentences. I am so done with having to listen to his self-serving comments. The most recent involve his talling about trying to explain what has happened to “his little girls”. I am not trying to minimize the impact this has had on them. I go believe he is still trying to influence the Judge by putting out the sympathy stuff. Please, oh please, get him to go quietly and soon.

  22. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    A commenter on Zorn’s blog found this:

    Spirit Airlines is running a “F-ing Golden Fare Sale!” Tickets start at 17* dollars.

    Pretty creative, I must admit.

  23. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:16 pm:

    John Oliver missed one of the signs: Excessive time spent reading the CapFax blog!

  24. - The Foz - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:25 pm:

    OK. Times to lay the cards on the table. Who’s lying Blago or Fitzgerald? Let a third party i.e. the press listen to significant passages before and after critical selected portions presented by the govt. By all accounts Blago was convicted by the tapes. Let’s hear them Fitz.

  25. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:34 pm:

    ===Who’s lying Blago or Fitzgerald?===


    Try to avoid smoking too much weed before commenting on this blog, dude.

  26. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 3:35 pm:

    JC, that link is posted above.

  27. - langhorne - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 4:45 pm:

    Ryan got convicted on 18 charges. Blaqo 17. So the trend is in the right direction, right?

  28. - Happy Returns - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:09 pm:

    Blago is 17 + the one from last year, so the trendline is flat at 18.

  29. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 5:18 pm:

    ==Let a third party i.e. the press listen to significant passages before and after critical selected portions presented by the govt. ==

    How about am impartial person familiar with the law, like a judge? Oh yeah, never mind.

  30. - Where's Mike? - Wednesday, Jun 29, 11 @ 10:57 pm:

    Quote from Cincinnatus:

    “It makes the jurors sound like they were exacting some retribution on Rod for some perceived harm to the state (Other than our reputation, what harm did Rod’s actions have?)”

    I can’t believe there are people out there that are clueless to the damage Blagojevich has done to this State. Rod Baby, crippled this state long before the housing crisis hit.

    He basically brought most state agencies to their knees by robbing budgets to pay for pork programs to keep the Chicago support, all for the cause of “being the Man for the People!”.

    Then after he recklessly mismanaged the state fiscally (and doing so while hiding in his bathroom), he raised every fee he could, but proudly told the people he hadn’t raised taxes and never would. Heck he didn’t need to; he “taxed” everybody to death by raising every fee he possibly could.

    There’s not enough time or space to list all of the reprehensible damage he has done to this state. Some of our state agencies will never recover from the damage cause by Blagojevich and his personal agenda.

    People not involved with state government will never know and could never comprehend the true wrath that Blago brought upon us all. The citizens of this State will literally be paying for the criminal actions of Blagojevich for decades to come!

  31. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Jun 30, 11 @ 7:40 am:

    Where’s Mike,

    There is no doubt that Rod was a lousy governor, as I stated in my original post, and you aptly reinforce in your statement. But he wasn’t being tried for being a lousy governor, he was being tried for crimes. I was trying to make the point that I am afraid that the jurors filtered the criminal trial through a political lens.

  32. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 30, 11 @ 8:16 am:

    ===I am afraid that the jurors filtered the criminal trial through a political lens. ===

    Possible, but they also followed the instructions. The guy was guilty, man.

  33. - Joe - Wednesday, Jul 6, 11 @ 1:53 am:

    I saw the Scarborough/Geist thing, and I got the impression that they were joking. I could be wrong, but it seemed tongue-in-cheek to me.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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