Blagojevich Jury Wraps Second Day Of Deliberations
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Updated 06/13/11 – 4:00 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Jurors in the Rod Blagojevich corruption retrial have wrapped up their second day of deliberations, meeting without a word on their progress on Monday.
Monday was their first full day of deliberations after about a half day on Friday. The 11 women and one man are weighing 20 various corruption charges against Blagojevich following six weeks of testimony at his retrial.
Jurors started the day around 9 a.m. and went home shortly before 4 p.m., court officials said.
So far, the jury has yet to send any questions or other comments to the judge about their deliberations.
How long the jury will take to reach a verdict is anyone’s guess. Before sending jurors their final written instructions and evidence binders on Friday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said “all bets are off” on how long deliberations will last.
The case against Blagojevich was greatly streamlined at his second trial, as the prosecutors focused on five alleged shakedowns and threw out several other more complicated allegations, as well as complex and confusing racketeering charges.
It was a clear effort by the government to simplify their case after jurors at the first trial deadlocked on all but one of the counts against Blagojevich – lying to the FBI. A lone juror prevented Blagojevich from being convicted of the most explosive allegation – that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama in 2008.
This time, jurors are focusing on only five basic shakedown allegations – the Senate seat allegations, as well as charges that Blagojevich tried to get campaign cash in exchange for taking action on various state government programs.
Defense attorneys have said they are still confident Blagojevich will be acquitted, despite the more focused prosecution case.
“It’s a fundamental view that we have. We have stood by Rod the whole way and we believe in him and we believe in our case. So, it’s only logical that if you believe in your case, you believe you’ve got a shot,” defense attorney Aaron Goldstein said after closing arguments. “These are 12 people that we know are good human beings and are gonna look at the facts, so based on that, we absolutely do think we have a good chance.”
Aside from the streamlined case, the biggest difference at the retrial was Blagojevich making the decision to take the stand and try to defend himself against the various shakedown allegations.
Whether or not jurors believed him will be pivotal to the jury’s decision.
But defense attorneys weren’t about to predict what the jury was thinking as they listened to Blagojevich over the course of seven days on the witness stand.
“That’s almost voodoo to try and figure out what in the world they’re thinking,” Goldstein said.
For most of the trial, the jurors were largely stone-faced as they listened to testimony, rarely showing any emotional reaction, often taking copious notes. While some jurors occasionally laughed when Blagojevich would joke on the stand, others rolled their eyes, but neither is necessarily a sign of what they thought of his testimony overall.
“There’s no way you can honestly look at someone and say ‘I know what they’re thinking.’ If someone smiles at you, they could be smiling about something completely random. If someone gives you a mean face, they could be mad at something,” Goldstein said. “It’s so random, you just don’t know. What we do know is that this jury is extremely attentive. And it has every indication to me that they care about this and that they’re going to do their job. That’s the best I can tell.”
The jury consists of 11 women and one man. They will deliberate Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 9 a.m. each day.
–Todd Feurer, CBS 2 Web Producer