Blagojevich is publicly celebrating today because he was convicted of only one of the 24 counts against him by a jury of six men and six women, and faces only five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A female juror was the lone holdout in a 11-1 vote for conviction on the charge of trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat, the centerpiece of the feds case.
Now we can only wait as Act II unfolds.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the “lack of a smoking gun” was too much of a hurle for jurors to reach more than one unanimous decision.
Juror Erik Sarnello of Itasca told the Associated Press the panel was deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting Blagojevich of trying to auction off the Senate seat. He said one woman on the panel “just didn’t see what we all saw.” The 21-year-old Sarnello said the counts involving the Senate seat were “the most obvious.”
“She just didn’t see it like we all did,” Sarnello said. “At a certain point there was no changing. … You can’t make somebody see something they don’t see.”
The woman sounds like the lone holdout in the trial of another ex-governor, George Ryan. That woman was eventually removed by the judge after it was reported she hadn’t told the truth about her criminal record during the selection process. Wonder what we’ll find out about this juror, who so far hasn’t come forward to explain why she didn’t see what the rest of Illinois did.
The Tribune points out that the government wins about 90 percent of its cases at the U.S. Dirksen Courthouse, and nationally gets hung juries less than 5 percent of the time. So the prosecution will likely take a different approach next time.
While the defense team will surely maintain a high-decibel profile in the months leading up to the next trial, Fitzgerald is unlikely to repeat any of the heated rhetoric that followed the governor’s arrest. Instead, prosecutors will keep their heads down, their mouths shut and begin preparing for the next battle, experts said.
“I think Fitzgerald regrets the way he started the case, when he held that press conference,” veteran defense attorney Steve Greenberg said. “Because if this was such a ‘crime spree,’ then is should have been a slam dunk guilty. But it wasn’t.”
In an editorial, the Tribune says it eagerly awaits a second trial.
We very much anticipate that second trial. The government’s accusations of racketeering and conspiracy are too serious to go unresolved. We trust that another jury will tell the people of Illinois whether the state’s only impeached and ousted governor is guilty or innocent of more than one felony.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times also bangs the drum for a second trial for the disgraced ex-governor.
But it’s hard to fault a juror who was looking for a little more ill-gotten gain by the ex-gov. A cash payoff, perhaps, or a George Ryan-style free Jamaican vacation.
More than one juror, no doubt thinking about some ineffectual blowhard in his own life, had to be thinking, “Where’s the beef?”
But only by prosecuting public corruption to the fullest extent of the law, retrials and all, can Illinois one day hope to arrive in that happy land of honest government.
The Springfield State Journal-Register also shares some views on the verdict.