The Blagojevich Trial – Jury Deliberations – Day 2

Rod Blagojevich shakes hands with supporters as he arrives at the Federal Court for the beginning of jury instructions in his corruption trial Wednesday.

Blagojevich trial: Day two of deliberations comes to a close


Sarah Ostman

on July 29, 2010 5:01 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

At the end of a second day of deliberations, the Blagojevich jury has called it a day.

They’ll be back tomorrow at 9 a.m. Normally the trial hasn’t been held on Fridays, but the jurors decided to deliberate five days a week.

Blagojevich jury’s first question: Can we have a transcript of the prosecution’s closing argument?


Natasha Korecki

on July 29, 2010 11:39 AM

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

After deliberating for just a few hours, jurors in Rod Blagojevich’s trial have made their first request: they want a transcript of the prosecution’s closing argument.

After reading the note, the three prosecutors on the case looked at each other and laughed.

The request will be denied, said Judge James Zagel, since closing arguments are not evidence.

The 12-member jury’s request was sent to the judge in a note, which was referred to in open court this morning. The note asked for the government’s closing argument.

In closing arguments, Prosecutor Chris Niewoehner extensively laid out the charges in the case with an explanation of each count and what evidence the prosecution believed proved their case.

Zagel noted that the indictment in the case, which does go back with the jury, was complicated and repetitive.

“If they are unable to work their way through this without the statements, I expect this issue to rise again,” Zagel said. “And I will deal with it.”

Blagojevich trial: Jury sends note out from deliberations


Sarah Ostman

on July 29, 2010 10:47 AM

We’ve gotten word that the jury has sent a note out from the jury room. It will be read aloud in court shortly, at 11 a.m.

There’s no indication that there’s a verdict. That would be unlikely after less than seven hours of deliberating — but anything’s possible.

Blagojevich trial: Jury leaves the courthouse after first day of deliberations


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 5:03 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The jury has quietly left the Dirksen Federal Building after their first partial day of deliberating.

Word is the jurors have decided to deliberate Monday through Friday, 9 – 5. They’re free to come up with their own schedule.

Sam Adam Jr. on Rod Blagojevich: “I love that man”


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 1:03 PM

Sam Adam Jr., standing with his father and fellow attorney Shelly Sorosky, was next to address the media after Rod left the building.

“We believe in those 12 jurors that are in there right now,” he told reporters. “We believe that they listened to the evidence, they’ve seen that the government has not proved their case, they’ve seen what I said in closing statements … that the governor, whatever you want to say about him, he’s not corrupt.”

Adam Jr. thanked his team and talked about the challenges they’ve overcome in the past year — the volume of papers they’ve had to go over, their requests for more time getting shot down, his own inexperience in federal courts.

He closed by saying his client — and his All Kids program, presumably, which the ex-governor himself mentioned just minutes earlier — was responsible for the health of his 1-year-old daughter, who was born weighing 1-1/2 pounds.

“I love that man,” Adam Jr. said. “My wife, who is here, and I now have a beautiful 35-pound child because of him, and whatever you say, I will go to my grave being grateful to him.”

Sam Adam Sr. then took the mic. He, too, praised their legal team and then turned to his son’s birthday.

“Thirty-eight years ago this morning, my son’s mother delivered my son and I was standing right there with her,” Adam Sr. said. “Thirty-eight years later I couldn’t be more proud of this boy. Here he is, taking the pressure of the world — this case was published in Paris yesterday, I’m told — taking the pressure of the world and defying a federal judge and saying, ‘I will go to jail if necessary to protect my client.'”

“I couldn’t possibly be more proud of this boy than I am. I love him and I love Rod, too.”

Sam Adam Jr. stood behind his father as he spoke, wiping away tears.

Rod Blagojevich: Ultimately the decision is with the jury — and in God’s hands


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 12:44 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Holding his wife’s hand, Rod Blagojevich addressed the media for about two minutes in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building a few minutes ago. Here’s what he said:

“Both Patti and I want to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to the many people, the men and women and young people, who’ve come up to us during this time of trial and have expressed to us their good wishes and have told us how they’ve kept us in our prayers. I can’t begin to tell you what how much means to both Patti and me …

“Let me also say from a personal point of view, having been the governor, how deeply gratifying it’s been to hear the different people who’ve come up to me during this trial to thank me.

“A young mother came up to me just yesterday, thanking me for the All Kids program and health care for her child.

“The number of senior citizens who’ve come to court and flashed their free senior bus ride cards — that’s very meaningful, and gives me perspective as we deal with this very difficult situation. To know that while I was governor, real good things happened to a lot of people and that helps sustain me during this difficult period…

“Both Patti and are grateful to our legal team and all their hard work.

“Now is the period where we have to wait, and express our appreciation to the men and women who are sitting on the jury who’ve taken time out of their busy schedules, out of their lives, to do their duty.

“They’re now the ones who will decide, make the decision. Patti and I have great confidence and faith in their judgment, their common sense and their decency.

“And ultimately, in the final analysis, Patti and I always have a deep and abiding faith in God. And ultimately the decision will be with the jury, the men and women of the jury, and in God’s hands.”

He and Patti then left the courthouse, taking no questions.

Rod Blagojevich: I don’t need any aphrodisiacs


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 12:12 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After court let out, an older Serbian woman handed Rod Blagojevich a candy. Sam Adam Sr. asked if it was an aphrodisiac.

“I don’t need any,” Rod said, laughing.

He then claimed to have run a marathon in 1984 in 2 hours and 55 minutes. He said he ran six miles last night.

He’s expected to talk to the media shortly.

Judge Zagel gives case to jury: “Your sole interest is to determine whether the government has proven its case”


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 11:48 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

It’s official. The case of former governor Rod Blagojevich is now in the hands of jurors.

They must weigh 24 counts against the former governor and four counts against his brother.

Before Zagel allowed them to go to the jury room, Judge James Zagel explained to jurors what to expect.

They must pick a foreman to lead the discussions. They may only communicate with the judge, if need be, by sending a note signed by the foreman. That note can never say how, numerically, the jury is divided.

Zagel then said he had one final instruction.

“The verdict must represent a considered judgment of each juror. Your verdict, whether it be guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous. You should make every reasonable effort to reach a verdict,” Zagel said.

“In doing so, you should consult with one another … discuss your differences, if you have them, with an open mind. Do not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinions if you come to believe it is wrong,” but do not go along with a verdict that you do not believe with, the judge says.

“Each of you should give fair and equal consideration to the evidence and deliberate with the goal of reaching an agreement,” Zagel says. “Your sole interest is to determine whether the government has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“With that,” he says, and the jury files out. Court is adjourned.

Blagojevich trial: Judge Zagel reads jury their 120 instructions


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 10:49 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Judge James Zagel is reading the jurors their instructions. There are 120 of them.

Zagel reminds them that a number of witnesses — including Joe Cari, John Harris, Lon Monk and Ali Ata — have pleaded guilty to related or unrelated offenses.

“Their guilty pleas are not to be considered as evidence against the defendants,” the judge says.

Recordings are to be used as evidence, Zagel tells them — not transcripts, which were put together by the government to help the jury follow along. Jurors will be given a computer with all the recordings to use in deliberations, he says.

Zagel turns to specific instructions for each of the 24 counts against Rod Blagojevich. For each count, the judge reads a list of specific things the government must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” to warrant a guilty verdict. Much is fairly technical.

He goes through a long list for count 2 — conspiracy to commit racketeering.

“A conspiracy may be committed even if its purpose is not accomplished,” the judge reads steadily, and later, “A group may continue to be an enterprise even if it changes membership by gaining or losing members over time.”

Now and then, Zagel lists off a long string of count numbers to which a specific instruction applies.

“From what you’ve just heard, you understand why we give you written copies of the jury instructions to take with you,” he says, acknowledging that there’s no way the jurors can be absorbing all this information.

On one bribery count, Zagel defines the term “anything of value.” The term can mean “money, property or prospective employment,” he says.

The jurors are getting restless. One has her eyes closed; another just yawned.

Blagojevich trial: Patti Blagojevich knits as jury is seated for instructions


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 10:39 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

As the jury is brought in for instructions, Patti Blagojevich is sitting in the front row, knitting.

Over a break, Sam Adam Jr., who turns 38 today, said he’s lost 32 pounds since May 1. He got on the scale yesterday, he said.

“My dad and I don’t eat lunch,” he said.

Someone suggested he celebrate his birthday with a cheeseburger.

“I want to keep it off,” he said, running a hand over his suit.

Blagojevich trial: Five jury alternates — one man, four women — to be sent home today, judge says


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 10:34 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Five jury alternates — one man and four women — will be sent home today. That leaves a jury of seven women and five men; two are African-American and one is Asian-American.

These jurors, the last five picked during jury selection, are alternates and will not deliberate the case. It’s what we thought to be the case all along, but the judge has just confirmed it in court.

“The alternates are the last five selected,” Zagel said, adding that in the future he may consider “a more random selection procedure.”

That means the following people will be sent home: a white, male mechanical engineer; a white, female legal secretary; a white, female hospital secretary; a young white woman who works in direct mail marketing; and a female, African-American nursing home social worker.

They will sit through jury instructions and then will be dismissed. They will still be instructed not to discuss or read news about the trial, in case they are called in to replace another juror, Zagel said.

Blagojevich trial: Courthouse quiet for jury instructions; deliberations expected to start today


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 9:42 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

After all the commotion of the past few days, the Dirksen federal courthouse seems like an absolute ghost town today.

On the 25th floor, Rod and Patti Blagojevich emerged from the elevator holding hands. One supporter clapped weakly in the hallway.

“Where did everybody go?” the ex-governor asked, scanning the thin crowd. “Jury instructions,” he said, smiling.

Jury instructions — where jurors are given a list of legal definitions and rules to help them with their deliberations — are expected to start a little later. It certainly doesn’t have the pizazz of a Sam Jr. closing argument, but this set of decisions can have a big impact on the outcome of a case.

First, before the jury is seated, attorneys will hash out which exhibits — transcripts, documents and other evidence from the trial — the jurors will be allowed to bring into deliberations. They may quibble over some items.

We’re expecting defense attorneys to give a statement later. It’s Sam Adam Jr.’s birthday.

Blagojevich trial: Blagojevich brothers finally hug, say ‘I love you’


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 9:33 AM

For nearly eight weeks, Rod and Robert Blagojevich were on trial together, but they sat at different tables in the courtroom. They didn’t lunch together and rarely even spoke.

But after their long trial concluded on Tuesday, with the jury and nearly all the spectators out of the courtroom, Rod Blagojevich walked over to his older brother.

The two exchanged words and gave each other a long embrace that ended with the two gently patting each other on the back.

“It had been a long time,” Robert Blagojevich later said of the hug.

To read the whole story, click here.

Blagojevich trial: Blagojevich defense gives theatrical closing


Sarah Ostman

on July 28, 2010 9:13 AM

He yelled. He whispered. He argued. He paced. He apologized. He made jurors double over in laughter one minute — and attempted to draw outrage the next.

Defense lawyer Sam Adam Jr.’s closing remarks in one of the highest-profile trials in Chicago history didn’t land him in jail Tuesday as he feared. But Adam used every weapon in his rhetorical arsenal to end Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial with enough drama to try to cancel out dozens of damning secret FBI tapes that jurors heard in the last eight weeks.

To read the whole story, click here.


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