The Blagojevich Jury Cannot Reach A Unanimous Decision On All Counts

Deliberation Day 12. Will we have a conclusion?


Natasha Korecki

on August 12, 2010 4:00 AM

In its first communication in eight days, Rod Blagojevich’s jury leaves us with a cliffhanger.

The jurors say they’re deadlocked on some counts, they’ve tried to come to consensus and cannot. They want direction.

Here’s a few things to consider as we await an 11 a.m. hearing where jurors will answer the note sent from Judge James Zagel, which asks for clarification on their division.

• Jurors earlier this week had already asked for the day off on Friday.
• Jurors said they were divided on counts involving a “specific act.”
• Jurors say they’ve gone beyond “reasonable attempts” to come together.
• Jurors said in their note: “they’ve tried as hard as they can and they can’t go any farther,” according to one defense lawyer.
• It was unclear the number of counts they couldn’t decide on.
• Judge James Zagel can tell jurors to go back and keep trying. But he went out of his way Wednesday to note he believes the jury already has been working hard to reach a conclusion.
“The jury in my view is exceptionally disciplined … I think they’re very diligent.”

Blagojevich jury: The note


Natasha Korecki

on August 11, 2010 11:08 PM

Due to multiple requests, here’s a separate post with the wording on the portion of the note from Rod Blagojevich jurors. U.S. District Judge James Zagel didn’t make the entire note public, he only read one section of it:

“In a situation where jurors cannot agree on given counts what should the next logical step be? We have gone beyond reasonable attempts without rancor. We now ask for guidance.”

Zagel replied by saying he needed more information on where they stood in their deliberations. He also told them they don’t have to be unanimous on every count. A partial verdict is a possibility.

Separately, one defense lawyer said that jurors also indicated they couldn’t reach a conclusion on counts involving a “specific act.”

No word from Rod Blagojevich as he leaves the courthouse


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 5:18 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Rod Blagojevich has left the Dirksen Federal Building after learning that the jury in his federal corruption trial may be deadlocked on some or all of the counts against him.

The ex-governor kept unusually hush-hush as he left the building, walking past a huge crowd of media without saying a word. He did pause briefly outside to shake hands with well-wishers.

“Thank you,” Blagojevich waved as he got in his car.

A few paces behind, Blagojevich’s lawyer Sam Adam Sr. was asked, “Did you understand that note?”

“No, of course not,” he said.

Attorney: Jury is “hopelessly deadlocked” on every count that involves an act


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 4:55 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

A lawyer said jurors indicated in their note that they are hopelessly deadlocked on every count that involves a specific act.

Lawyers are now scratching their heads, trying to figure out what that means, attorney Michael Ettinger said in a press conference at around 4:50 p.m.

The jury might be saying they cannot reach a verdict on the racketeering charges, Ettinger speculated. That’s a lengthy and complicated charge that is divided into six separate “acts.” He said if they couldn’t reach an agreement on any count involving a specific act, that would technically involve just about every count in the indictment except for the false statement charges.

Attorneys saw the entire note sent out by the jury earlier today; only portions were read in court a little while ago. Judge James Zagel has responded in writing, asking the jury for clarification.

Ettinger responded with “I don’t know” over and over again when asked if he thinks the jury’s note meant they were deadlocked on every count or just some.

“I assume they’re hung on my client, but I don’t know,” he said.

Meanwhile, the jury has gone home for the day. Lawyers will be back in court at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Blagojevich jury: We can’t reach a unanimous decision; Judge to ask for more details on their deadlock


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 4:20 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Jurors told Judge James Zagel in a note that they have been unable to reach a unanimous decision on some or all counts and asked for guidance on how to proceed.

Zagel read the note aloud in court with a nervous-looking Rod Blagojevich looking on. The jury was not in the courtroom.

“In a situation where jurors cannot agree on a unanimous decision on given counts … what should the next logical step be?” the note said. “We have gone beyond reasonable attempts” to reach a unanimous decision and “now ask for guidance.”

Zagel said he was unclear on whether the jury had been able to reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts, and wanted to respond in writing asking them for clarification.

He proposed responding with a note saying, in part, “You should determine if you can reach a verdict on some of the counts.”

The note asks them which counts, if any, the jury has been able to agree on, and also explains that it’s “permissible” for them to submit a unanimous decision on some counts and be deadlocked on others.

The prosecution and defense agreed.

“We’re fine with that,” one of the prosecutors said.

“No objection,” the Blagojeviches’ lawyers said.

“I’ll give this to the jury and we’ll see what happens,” the judge said.

Zagel closed by praising the jurors as “exceptionally disciplined” and said the jury room has been quiet throughout their 11 days of deliberating.

“If there is shouting or loud voices, you can tell. There has been none of this in this case.
The jury is, at least from my point of view, exceptionally disciplined,” the judge said.

“I think on one occasion, a juror called in saying they would be late. In fact, they weren’t late,” he continued.

The jury had planned to go home for the night, Zagel told the court, so they will likely not be able to respond until Thursday morning.

Rod Blagojevich appeared straight-faced in the courtroom, keeping his hands folded in front of him. After court, he smiled faintly and shook hands with his lawyer and clapped him on the back.

Rod and Patti Blagojevich arrive in court


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 3:55 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Rod and Patti Blagojevich have just arrived at the federal courthouse, along with Patti’s brother, Rich. The ex-governor was all smiles as he walked in, but when reporters asked how he was feeling, he gave a one-word answer: “Butterflies.”

Upstairs on the 25th floor, the media is still cordoned off in the hall outside the courtroom.

“Missed you guys,” Rod said as he walked past them.

About 15 minutes later, at about 4:05, Robert Blagojevich and his wife, Julie, have arrived. Sound is up and running in the overflow courtroom, and the judge is entering the courtroom.

There’s a heavy tension in the courtroom. Rod looks nervous. He’s fiddling with something, fixing his hair. Patti appears exhausted, showing deep circles under her eyes.

Robert and his attorney appear more relaxed, though Robert just let out a big sigh.

Rod and Robert Blagojevich expected in court shortly; media still waiting


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 3:19 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, are expected to arrive at the Dirksen Federal Building shortly. Barricades have been put up on Dearborn Street and reporters and camera crews are slowly gathering outside.

It’s an unexpected development in what seemed at first to be — and which could still turn out to be — a simple court hearing about a jury question.

But the fact that the defendants were asked to show up does raise some eyebrows. Court personnel has not said anything about a verdict — they normally do, when one is reached.

If the jury reveals that it is deadlocked, Judge James Zagel will likely tell them to keep deliberating and do their best to come up with a verdict.

Lawyers meet privately with judge; media awaits hearing on jury question


Sarah Ostman

on August 11, 2010 2:20 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

A crowd of reporters has gathered on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building, awaiting a 2:30 public hearing about a jury question.

But in the meantime, something a bit out of the ordinary — attorneys are having a closed-door conference with Judge James Zagel. They were told to meet him in the courtroom at 2 p.m.

We don’t know if they’re privately discussing the jury’s question before it is made public in open court, or if they’re talking about something else entirely. But it certainly has the media abuzz with the possibilities.

Blagojevich jury has a question — lawyers told to come to court at 2:30


Natasha Korecki

on August 11, 2010 11:47 AM

Jurors in Rod Blagojevich’s case have communicated with the judge for the first time in more than a week, saying they have a question, according to lawyers in the case.

Attorneys were told to be at the courthouse this afternoon and were not told that their clients must also attend.

The question comes on Day 11 of deliberations and eight days after the 12-member panel last communicated with the judge in the case.

The last communication from jurors came on July 30th when they asked for all the trial’s testimony.

Judge James Zagel denied that request but told the panel he would be open to handing out the testimony of specific witnesses.

*** Since our first post, the clerk’s office issued an alert saying there is a 2:30 p.m. hearing in the case.

Lawyers say the note from jurors is a question and not a verdict.

Rod Blagojevich’s jury is back in — Day 11


Natasha Korecki

on August 11, 2010 10:16 AM

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Yes, the jurors deciding Rod Blagojevich’s are back today. No, they haven’t given any sign of where they stand now that they are starting Day 11 of their deliberations.

Jurors in the trial of former Gov. George Ryan deliberated for 11 days — but that was after they were reconstituted (two jurors were kicked off and they started over). And it was after sitting through a six-month trial.

In a news availability yesterday, Sam Adam Jr. noted that jurors in this case have been out just as long and the trial ran only 29 days.

“That’s pretty cool,” Adam Jr. said yesterday.

Here’s today’s story about the defense wishing jurors had heard from Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.:Click here,CST-NWS-blago11.article

Blagojevich trial: Still no word as Day 10 comes to a close


Sarah Ostman

on August 10, 2010 4:56 PM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Another day’s gone by without a word from the jury.

They’ll be back tomorrow for day 11.

Blagojevich defense regret? Not calling Jesse Jackson Jr. to the stand


Natasha Korecki

on August 10, 2010 11:30 AM

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


An attorney for the brother of Rod Blagojevich said he regrets that jurors who are now in their 10th day of deliberations never heard testimony from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill).

Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, gave an emphatic “yes” when asked if he regretted that Jackson didn’t take the stand.

“I don’t know if I can at this point go into it. But it would have shown, you know, you’ve got the Jesse Jr. alleged bribery extortion. You’ve seen one side of it that I believe the evidence shows really didn’t occur. I believe the jury would have seen the other side of Jesse and the Indians if Jesse would have testified,” Ettinger said.

“What was the other side?” reporters asked.

“That’s what I can’t get into,” Ettinger said.

Jackson was subpoenaed by Rod Blagojevich’s attorneys. Rod and Robert Blagojevich are accused of attempting to go through Indian fund-raiser Raghu Nayak to extract a campaign contribution from Jackson. Robert Blagojevich testified that Nayak in October of 2008 approached him offering $6 million in fund-raising for his brother if the then-governor named Jackson to the Senate seat.

Robert Blagojevich testified he shut down the offer. Months later though, Rod Blagojevich tells his brother in a recorded phone call he wants to “elevate” Jackson and asks his brother to meet with Nayak and to talk about “tangible” support up front. His brother sets up a meeting with Nayak but testifies he never intended on making any quid pro quo offer.

“We were counting on Jesse Jr. being called,” Ettinger said. “Depending on what he said, I would have called Nayak.”

Ettinger said the ex-governor’s decision not to testify and to call no witnesses took him by surprise.

“There’s another story to be told between Jesse Jr. and the Indians that I can’t get into,” Ettinger said. He could have called Jackson himself, he acknowledged.

“Because my client never met with him (Jackson) and Rod did. I didn’t think that I should get into that,” Ettinger said.

The decision to rest their case without calling a witness — or Rod Blagojevich came as a surprise to the ex-governor’s brother, Ettinger said. Rod Blagojevich, as well as his lawyers said it was a difficult call for them but in the end they believed it was the right thing to do in the case.

Judge James Zagel: “We are all in exactly the same position. We are all waiting.”


Sarah Ostman

on August 10, 2010 10:58 AM

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The Blagojevich jury is still deliberating quietly and has made no requests, Judge James Zagel told a full courtroom this morning.

Attorneys and reporters congregated as usual for a 10:30 a.m. status hearing on the 25th floor. Most mornings, we’ve been sent away without ever entering the courtroom. But this morning, the judge brought everyone inside to formally say that … there is nothing to say.

“We are all exactly in the same position,” Zagel said. “We are all waiting.”

Today marks day 10 of the jury’s deliberations.

You might have to help Blagojevich pay legal bills


Natasha Korecki

on August 10, 2010 10:11 AM

Today, we examine the possibility that taxpayers may end up picking up the remaining
tab on Rod Blagojevich’s legal bills.

There is only $75,000 left in the $2.8 million kitty and his defense team hasn’t yet billed for the month of July — arguably the most intense month for the defense since the 2009 indictment.

During his trial, Rod Blagojevich’s finances were summed up to jurors by his own lawyer:
“He’s broke, man, BROKE! When I say broke, I mean BROKE!” Sam Adam Jr. screamed in his closing argument.
Perhaps he knows best.

The former governor’s campaign fund, which is paying his lawyers, has dwindled to its last dollars, opening the door to tap into taxpayer money.

Read today’s article: Click here

To read previous trial updates click The Blagojevich Trial – Jury Deliberations Day 8


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