By the end of the fourth day of juror questioning in the Rod Blagojevich retrial, Judge James Zagel had 40 who survived the initial round of challenges. He plans to question a few more on Thursday morning.
UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.
Court is adjourned for the day. The juror who has Oprah tickets was dismissed. After court, Blagojevich called her tickets "effing golden."
UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.
The judge is done questioning jurors for the day. They are doing strikes now.
UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.
Court is back in session. New group of potential jurors being sworn in.
UPDATE: 3:15 p.m.
Court on a short break.
UPDATE: 3:10 p.m.
Potential juror #190 is a woman whose husband volunteered for Blagojevich's congressional campaign years ago.
UPDATE: 3:05 p.m.
The judge is interviewing a doctor who specializes in family medicine, and who trains student doctors. Before that, the judge interviewed a probation officer with 19 years experience in mental health and firearms training.
UPDATE: 2:11 p.m.
Wednesday afternoon, the judge questioned seven more potential jurors, including a former staffer for former Congressman John Porter, a librarian, and an employee service representative for McDonald's.
UPDATE: 1:08 p.m.
Four more jurors were questioned so far Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE: 12:09 p.m.
The potential juror who was concerned because she had May 10 tickets to a taping of the Oprah Show was one of the jurors who had a private callback Wednesday morning, but she is still a member of the jury pool.
UPDATE: 11:05 a.m. From Larry Yellen
Judge James Zagel said that by his count, only about 18 potential jurors have survived the first cut in jury selection after three days. He predicted opening statements would not occur until next week and added that jury selection is taking longer than usual because this is such a highly-publicized case. The numbers provided in open court before Wednesday morning had suggested that as many as 37 potential jurors had survived the first cut. Prosecutors said their count was 28, so they also were a little surprised at the judge's figures.
UPDATE: 10:15 a.m.
Court was called into session. The day began with callbacks of several jurors already questioned. Eight jurors were called for more questions to determine whether they should stay on the list of potential jurors. Most callback issues deal with jurors claiming a hardship reason as to why they can't serve, like financial difficulty, medical or family reasons.
Four jurors were questioned for callbacks in open court, and four were kept in the jury room due to privacy concerns. For the time being, all remain on the jury pool list.
UPDATE: 9:58 a.m.
Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich’s fiery attorney from the first trial, was in the court room in private conference with Blagojevich’s defense attorneys. He said hello to everyone in the courtroom and joked with prosecutors before going into the conference. Adam Jr. and his father, Sam Adam Sr., represented Blagojevich in his first trial, but could not be part of the smaller defense team paid for by public funds for the second. Adam left shortly after 10 a.m. before court was in session.
Adam answered questions from the media in the lobby of the courthouse as he was leaving and explained why he came in that morning.
“Certainly I’m interested always in showing Rod support, showing him I still believe in him. I’ve said that from the day I got in the case and I say that today. I honestly believe in my gut that’s an innocent man,” Sam Adam Jr. said.
Adam was asked if he was curious to see what the defense does this trial, and he replied as a lawyer he is always looking to hone his skills.
“This is one of the biggest cases in the country and I wanted to make sure we come in here and see if I could have done something different the first time and what was it so I don’t make the same mistakes,” Adam said.
Adam said he would “love” to deliver opening statements, but won’t.
“What’s most important in this case is what’s best for Rod, and he’s got the legal team that’s best for him,” Adam said. He denied it was for financial reasons.
“If we sat down and decided I was the best for Rod, then you do what you have to do and go in there and do it,” Adam said, but he said Blagojevich’s lawyers are “the best legal team in the city to do what needs to be done.”
Adam said he has a theatrical style that although some of it worked in the first trial, not all of it did. He said there was fatigue with some of the theatrics and the legal team Blagojevich had would be better at presenting just the facts.
“I’ve said it before, I think Juge Zagel is a diamond, there is no doubt about it. But as far as being receptive, I don’t think any judge could be less receptive of me a second time around. I think definitely this is the approach that I think will work best, especially with Judge Zagel.”
Adam said Zagel has an excellent understanding of the federal rules of evidence, and during the first trial, he wasn’t as prepared on them as he could have been. Adam said defense attorney Aaron Goldstein will be better prepared this time around.
Ultimately, Adam said he believes the defense will win the case.
“I predict 20-0, that’s what I predict. I predict 20-0 not guilty,” Adam said, referring to the 20 counts Blagojevich faces.
UPDATE: 9:30 a.m.
Blagojevich arrives at the Federal Dirksen Building and says nothing to reporters as he heads up to court.
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