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Blagojevich’s Judge Chides Media ‘Harassment’ Of Jury

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Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich talks to reporters at the Dirksen Federal Building on Aug. 17, 2010 after being convicted of lying to federal prosecutors. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – The federal judge presiding over the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has criticized the media for what he called “harassment” of jurors after Blagojevich’s first trial.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Local media organizations have been seeking to get the names of jurors released before the end of the second trial. At the first trial, U.S. District Judge James Zagel waited until shortly after the verdict to release the names of the jury.

Zagel criticized reporters on Wednesday for “harassment” of those jurors after the verdict, when the jury was deadlocked on all but one count against Blagojevich.

The judge said he feared otherwise qualified potential jurors might be frightened from serving on the jury for Blagojevich’s second trial due to what he described as “an onslaught of a rapacious media.”

Zagel also said he’d consider giving “no-trespassing” signs to jurors to put up outside their homes to dissuade journalists.

The judge earlier said he planned to keep the jurors’ names secret until several hours after the verdict at the second trial, but media organizations objected, leading to Thursday’s hearing.

An attorney representing media organizations, James Klenk, told Zagel that dissuading jurors from speaking for hours or days would only keep the spotlight on them longer.

Zagel said he will rule by Monday on whether he’ll release the jurors’ names earlier than planned.

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