CHICAGO (CBS) — It took two juries to find Rod Blagojevich guilty of 18 federal corruption charges, and the men and women who agonized over those decisions weren’t required to be in court today for the sentencing hearing.
However, many did attend to see this journey to its end. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports.
At the end of Blagojevich’s second trial, his jury faced the general public to explain their decision, but many felt their duty wasn’t finished.
“Our decisions brought us to this point, and we need to see the consequences,” said Connie Wilson, who was the forewoman on that second jury.
“I think to not see it through and not come here, I would have been wondering what occurred for the rest of my life. I needed to experience it,” said Jessica Hubinek, also from the second jury.
Hubinek and Wilson admitted Blagojevich had a winning charm, but his crimes called for strict consequences.
“It’s difficult, it’s very difficult to be here–emotional for me,” said Hubinek.
“I am thinking about his children, mostly his daughter who is the same age as my daughter and how it’s going to affect them.”
James Matsumoto was among jurors from the first trial who also returned to court today. Following their brief conversation with Judge James Zagel, the jurors were not surprised by his harsh tone and the overall sullen mood of these proceedings.
“The judge said today to us, ‘The pressure is on me and him [Blagojevich],’ ” said Matsumoto, the foreman from the first jury, which convicted the ex-governor of one count–lying to the FBI. The second jury found him guilty on 17 corruption charges, including a scheme to sell off an appointment to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.
“It’s somber to think everyone is taking it seriously,” said Matsumoto.
But while they expect a sentence for Rod Blagojevich that will send a message to corrupt politicians everywhere, the jurors admit there are lessons for the rest of us as well.
“It’s not just our government officials who have to answer for where we are in Illinois. It’s our citizens who have to get off their butt and be citizens again,” said Wilson.