Blagojevich jurors sort through confusing laws

June 14, 2011

Robert Wildeboer and AP Wires

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(WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)
Defense attorney Aaron Goldstein looks on as Blagojevich speaks to the media.

Tuesday marks the third day of deliberations in the corruption retrial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. 

A teacher, a dietitian and a former church choir director are among those on the jury, which includes 11 women and one man. 

One of the most difficult things jurors have to do is to go through the law and try to understand it before they can figure out if Blagojevich broke it. 

For example, in order to find him guilty of attempted extortion, they have to find several things: that he acted under color of official right, that the victims would have parted with money or property because of the extortion, and that the extortion would have affected interstate commerce.

Jurors may spend a significant amount of time just trying to figure out what all those phrases mean. 

Then they have to decide if Blagojevich took a "substantial step" toward extortion.  That could include having a meeting where Blagojevich suggests a trade, as prosecutors say he did when he sought a job in President Barack Obama's cabinet in exchange for appointing Obama's preferred candidate to the Senate. 

Prosecutors say Blagojevich took another substantial step when he directed one of his advisors to use back channels to push the idea of the trade with Obama's advisors.

The jury is wading through dozens of prosecution exhibits, including FBI wiretaps recordings.

Blagojevich faces 20 counts, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

Jurors at Blagojevich's first trial deadlocked on all but one charge. He was convicted of lying to the FBI.