Cellini juror lies not enough to overturn conviction

January 24, 2012

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(AP PhotoM. Spencer Green, File)
William Cellini

Blagojevich co-defendant William Cellini will not have his conviction thrown out, at least not because of the juror in his case who lied about her criminal record.

After Cellini was convicted, the Chicago Tribune revealed that juror Candy Chiles had a record including DUI and drug possession. She failed to tell the court about the convictions despite specific questions on a questionnaire and then follow up questions from the judge during jury selection. The issue has been the focus of several hearings over the last couple months as Cellini's attorneys sought to make it a reason to throw out his conviction and grant him a new trial.

Judge James Zagel ruled Tuesday that her answers could have been more precise, but he found they weren't lies. He said they were, "understandable, honest and inadvertent errors." Zagel said jurors shouldn't have to be subject to thorough public scrutiny because then they won't be willing to participate in the system. He said Chiles knew nothing of Cellini or his lawyers and therefore wasn't biased against them.