Blago Defense: Not enough blacks in jury pool

April 29, 2011

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(AP/File)
Defense attorneys for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich are concerned there won't be many people of color on the jury.

Defense attorneys for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich say they're concerned there won't be many people of color on the jury.  The holdout juror in Blagojevich's first trial was African American.

Many potential jurors have told the judge they think Blagojevich is guilty, but they stay on the jury for his retrial if they convince him that they can set their opinions to the side.  One woman, an African-American, wrote on her questionnaire that she believed Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty.  The defense hoped to keep her on, but the prosecution sought to have her excused because she runs a business driving people to medical appointments and it would suffer if she had to take two months off for the trial.

Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky told the judge that it seemed like all the people of color are being excused.  But Judge James Zagel pointed to the woman's questionnaire where she said she was trying to build up the business because her sons have felony records and they'll always need a place to work.  Zagel excused her.  Of the 45 people still in the jury pool, fewer than five are black.