Jurors field questions after convicting Blagojevich on 17 counts

June 27, 2011

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Jurors who convicted Rod Blagojevich on 17 corruption charges on Monday said they did not buy the ex-Illinois governor's argument that his scheming was just talk.

Jurors said the charges that were were most clear cut had wire tapped phone calls as evidence.

Those calls show Blagojevich scheming to profit from his power to appoint a U-S senator, and jurors found him guilty on all 11 charges tied to that scheme.

The defense alleged it was all talk, but the jury saw action.

“There were several times where he said, you know, do it, push that, get that done,” said one juror. “I think that's where he crossed the line of just floating the idea and actually doing it.”

The jurors did not want to identify themselves, noting that the court will release their names on Tuesday.

They also refused to say how their votes were split on the two charges they could not reach a verdict on.

They said they'd made a pact not to do that.

 

Statement from the jury

146 (Foreperson): As a jury we have felt privileged to be part of the process. We were thorough and detailed in examining the evidence for all 20 counts. We feel confident we have reached a fair and just verdict.

How hard did you have to work on each of the counts?

149: There were several times we had to vote and revote, listen to the tapes and relook at our notes in order to come to a happy medium to determine whether he was guilty or not guilty. The most difficult one we had was the tollway and the school counts. We didn’t feel there was enough evidence to go one way or the other, it was very difficult.  We really had to dig deep and listen to the tapes and how they spoke to get the information out of the tapes.

Organizing the counts

146: We did [organize] mostly by putting them together, so school together, tollway together. It made looking at the evidence much easier.

Reaction to Blagojevich testimony

103: Because he was personable, it made it hard to separate that from what we had to do as jurors. We had to put aside the fact that we liked him or didn’t like him and just go by the evidence we were presented to us.

Convicting on wire fraud counts

103: evidence for that, just because there was tapes that we could listen to behind that, those counts were the easiest to go through. The ones where there were not tapes, the ones that just had witness testimony, those were a little tougher. Those were the ones we had to deliberate a little longer on.   

140: The senate seat was the most clear. We felt there was so much more evidence to go on – recording, the tapes that we listened to over and over again. We felt it was very clear that he was trying to make a trade for the senate seat in various aspects.

Blagojevich testimony

140: I honestly thought at times it was manipulative and I would have rather just heard the facts.

103: Showed he was human.

Verdict changed without Blagojevich on stand

136: I don’t think so, because we still had to look at the evidence.

103: His testimony did help a lot in some of the issues we were having with the tollway. His testimony made it so clear to us that what he was trying to do more than anything else with the tollway was get the capital bill through.  I think if it were not for his testimony on that we would not have seen that as clearly.

Without testimony, would have convicted on all counts?

103: That’s hard to say.

140: I think we tried to look at all the evidence, not just his testimony, and many times put our personal feelings aside. And look at just what does the transcript say, what do the facts say.

103: And what do the jury instructions say as to what we’re supposed to look at for each count and what we’re supposed to consider for how do we find guilt versus non-guilt.

Blagojevich cross first question, ‘convicted liar’

103: That sacred us all to death. We were so nervous after that little segment of the trial. The trial up until then had not been very traumatic. As a juror going in, you don’t know what trial is like. You see trials on TV all the time and you think each and everyone is like Law and Order. And he came out and we were all just [taken aback].

140: We were all startled.

Reaction to senate seat tape (‘f$#king golden’)

179: There were a lot of calls that supported our verdict, it wasn’t just that alone. That tape was significant, that was the most memorable quote and not so much the only thing we made our decision on.

Lisa Madigan to the senate

149: He was being tried on attempting, not committing the crime. When you say you float an idea as opposed to asking someone to do it, that’s where you cross the line.

Learning how politics work and whether the verdict will make a difference.

146: I told my husband if he’s going to go into politics, he’s going to have to find a new wife. I think it sends a message. We know there’s a lot of bargaining that goes on behind scenes, in business and our everyday lives. But in this instance, when its someone representing the people, it crosses the line. And I think we sent a pretty clear message on it.

On why the jury press conference.

140: I think because we’re concerned about what will happen when we return to our normal lives. We have children who are concerned about the media coverage and we’re hoping that by doing this now that it will lessen what comes later.

Profession

146: I am retired. I was a director of music and liturgy at a church.

The two no verdict counts

146: I don’t think we found the evidence. We looked over everything we could, every witness, anything that would deal with that. And the evidence just wasn’t pointing to it. There was an overall scheme here and once you’re into that scheme you have to dissect those counts separately and I think we did a very good job dissecting that. Some people felt very strongly we had enough evidence and some felt we did not. We will not [disclose how the vote went]. We made a pact we were not going to do that.

Particularly credible testimony.

136: Bradley Tusk. We felt he had nothing to lose, he had nothing to gain or lose with his testimony.

Testimony which was not credible

149: Lon Monk, because he had lied to so many people. He had lied to Rod even prior to this. He was taking bribes and he was prosecuted. We really evaluated how we took what he really said.

103: With the school, it came down to Rod’s testimony or Tusk’s. And people were for or against him so that was a very difficult vote.

First trial in jury discussion.

103: that’s why we’re here. Because we don’t know anything about it. I never saw it, I really never heard what happened.

Reaction to excessive objection

103: As a juror it just made it harder to follow. There would be one thought and then an objection, so scratch that and on to the next one. With that many objections in any specific testimony, you’re let with one sentence at the end of the day.

Judge bias in  favor of government

103: Some lawyers many not know how to act in a federal courtroom, so that’s what I chalked it up to. Whether that’s the case or not, I don’t know.

Putting Blagojevich in prison

140: it was very difficult. We know he’s human, he has a family. It was very difficult. Here’s all the evidence and I would come in thinking, OK he’s not guilty. And then gosh darn, Rod, you did it again. He proved beyond a reasonable doubt that we was guilty. And I tried to find anything I could to find him not guilty but the evidence was there.

Closing argument

140: [The government] presentation was really helpful. We wished we had that PowerPoint to bring back with us, because it was so clearly well organized and help us organize our thoughts. I think both sides did a good job trying to follow it.

Wire fraud clarification

146: I think it was one of those things we were looking at the meaning of the words in  that situation, as they came back and we went through our jury instruction again it became pretty clear to us.

Making the senate seat debate illegal

140: When you make the ask, you push them, as a state official, the evidence is there.  We all came in with all open minds. The toll way and the school were very difficult.

179: There were just several instances and several calls where he asked for different positions for the senate seat and different deals for it. So many times he brought it up to people who could do something about it. It wasn’t just one thing it was so many different times.

Final thoughts

146: These 12 people together were an amazing group of people. I think the United States would be proud of their system. They so wanted to keep innocence until proven guilty and they worked very hard to make sure every single detail was looked at to be fair and honest.

--Edited by Meghan Power