Jury selection begins in Blagojevich corruption retrial
By Jim Hagerty
In spite of recent drama, Rod Blagojevich’s second corruption trial was uneventful Wednesday as the jury selection process was underway in Chicago.
Potential jurors began completing questionnaires this morning and quietly filed into the courtroom.
The energy was different from the first trial, in which jurors were deadlocked on all but the charge that the impeached Illinois governor lied to the FBI.
Prosecutors have since modified their case, dropping several charges. Officials said Wednesday the original charges were too complex for the first jury to follow.
One of the charges that sill remains is the allegation that Blagojevich attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after Obama became President of the United States.
Authorities say Blagojevich was soliciting for a top government job or campaign funds in exchange for Obama’s seat in Washington.
In last year’s trial, the jury was unable to convict Blagojevich for allegedly putting Obama’s seat up for sale after a lone juror wouldn’t concur with a guilty verdict.
Meantime, Blagojevich, 54, could still be handed a five-year prison sentence on the lying conviction. Still standing accused of 20 crimes, a conviction on one could send him to a federal penitentiary for more than a decade.
Some claim Wednesday’s calmness can be attributed to the lack of Sam Adam Jr., a former Blago attorney, whose boisterous antics in the first trial turned the proceedings into a legal circus. Adam also didn’t sit well with judges.
Even without Adam, Blagojevich has been causing a media stir of his own. Before being warned Monday by Judge James Zagel to be cautious about statements to the press, Blagojevich was vocal about his claim that the government is attempting to sabotage his defense.
Blagojevich isn’t scheduled to appear in court until after the jury is selected, which could take a week or longer.
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