Potential Jury Pool Grows in Rod Blagojevich Retrial - FOX 32 News Chicago

Potential Jury Pool Grows in Rod Blagojevich Retrial

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As jury selection continued in the Rod Blagojevich case Tuesday, the third day of questioning potential jurors, proceedings were watched by the jury foreman from the first trial. James Matsumoto said he felt there was "unfinished business."

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Key Points:

  • At the end of the day Tuesday, 37 potential jurors were in the pool. Zagel wants to get that number to 40, so he will continue questioning jurors on Wednesday. After that, peremptory challenges from either side will reduce the group further. Ultimately, the jury will be seated with 18 members: 12 jurors and six alternates.
  • Prosecutors for the first time indicated they want to use Blagojevich's TV appearances to build the case against him in a motion they filed Monday. The prosecution asked for permission to use a clip from an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
  • Maddow asked the ex-governor if it would be criminal to exchange a senate seat for something of value. "You agree that would be wrong," Maddow asked Blagojevich. "Oh, absolutely," he answered, however then went on to deny he ever did it. Prosecutors argue it shows Blagojevich knew that trading for the seat was wrong even though at his first trial, he claimed he didn't.
  • In the meantime, people have tried several different excuses to get out of jury duty. One woman had a new one: ‘I have tickets to Oprah.’ A potential juror in the trial said Monday that she wants to get out of serving on the jury because she has tickets to the taping of Oprah's show on May 10. Judge James Zagel at first rejected the idea that he could work the court schedule around that day, but he later seemed open to the idea since Oprah is ending her syndicated show next month. Both sides in the case agreed to revisit the issue.
  • "Both Patti and I can't wait for this trial to begin," Blagojevich said Monday. "It has been a long and hard journey, scratching and clawing our way back to clear my name and get the vindication I know I deserve, and to show the people of Illinois that I didn't let them down."

 

UPDATE:    7:15 p.m.
Judge Zagel said that opening arguments are likely to start on Monday.

 

UPDATE:    5:45 p.m.
Jury selection is done for the day. So far, the court has 37 potential jurors. The goal is 40, so they'll question more jurors Wednesday morning. Another juror who has made this initial cut is a Cook County State's Attorney who handles felony review. At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the judge plans to hear motions on evidence.

 

UPDATE:    5:35 p.m.
The former Admiral Theater employee with the 22-month old child is out.

 

 

UPDATE:    5:35 p.m.
The former Admiral Theater employee with the 22-month old child is out.

 

UPDATE:    5:05 p.m.
The jury pool is being whittled down again, but the juror with the "bleeping golden" ringtone makes the cut.

 

UPDATE:   3:55 p .m.
A potential juror said she has a 22-month-old child and worked the front desk at the Admiral Theater for two years. She said she's taken her baby for treatment to Children's Memorial Hospital a few times, and doesn't know if Blagojevich is guilty.

 

UPDATE:   3:35 p .m.
Eight more jurors were questioned after lunch. There are three more to go, but court is now on a break.

 

UPDATE:   2:02 p .m.
Judge Zagel swore in the third group of jurors for questioning.  So far Tuesday, no one had been relieved of duty.

 

UPDATE:   12:40 p .m.
When court broke for lunch, 12 potential jurors had been questioned, including one who is a Cook County prosecutor.

 

UPDATE:   12:09 p .m.
A total of 10 potential jurors have been questioned Tuesday. One member of the jury pool mentioned Patti Blagojevich’s foul mouth when questioned, and another potential juror works at Children’s Memorial Hospital, which allegedly was the subject of a shakedown by Rod Blagojevich.

One of the potential jurors admitted having Blagojevich saying “F---ing golden” as a ring tone.

 

UPDATE:   10:53 a .m.
The judge finished questioning five more potential jurors Tuesday morning, including a software engineer, a computer consultant and a wine expert. One potential juror, when asked about Blagojevich, said he knew a relative of Blagojevich had a “foul mouth.” Another potential juror said “pay to play” politics happens because money talks.

 

UPDATE:   10:10 a .m.
The court was called into sesion and Judge Zagel began questioning juror number 151, a public health educator.

 

UPDATE:   9:50 a .m.
Blagojevich arrives in the courthouse, does not speak to the media. In the courtroom was the jury foreman from the first Blagojevich trial. He sat with the public but was seen talking to defense attorneys. He also answered questions from the media in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building, including why he was at court.

“Personal interest. And I have this nagging feeling that there’s unfinished business,that we didn’t finish the job that we were given, and I feel that perhaps this next jury will be able to finish this job that we started.,” Matsumoto said. He said he hoped that the jury this time around reaches a conclusion, whether it’s guilty or not.

Matsumoto also had some advice for the potential jurors.

“The advice I would give a prospective juror is take a lot of notes, make it as detailed as possible in the time that you have, especially in the early parts. The early schemes -- there are six schemes -- the early schemes don’t have corroboration of ...audio tape conversations, so the notes become very crucial,” Matsumoto said.

Matsumoto said he was interested to see how jury selection works, specifically how jurors are chosen and when. He also said he hopes he can be a part of this trial as a spectator. Matsumoto said since he is retired, he plans to come for at least part of the trial. He expected to watch jury selection and some of the testimony, to compare it to the first trial.

“I think the prosecution did a fine job last time. They convinced me. They convinced many of the jurors. I think the complexity of the previous case was a drawback for the prosecution,” Matsumoto said. “It was too cumbersome, unwieldy, for a lay jury to understand and to deal with properly.”
 

 

UPDATE:   9:16 a .m.
Blagojevich leaves his house in a blue sedan.
 

 

Rod Blagojevich Scandal: More Key Players

Visit the "Who's Who" page to learn more about the former Illinois governor , his co-defendants, inner circle, the legal team and what people like President Obama , Sen. Dick Durbin and other high-profile people have to do with the case. >>


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