Judge wants to know more about Cellini juror

November 23, 2011

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(AP/M. Spencer Green)
William Cellini hopes to have his conviction thrown out because a juror lied.

Federal Judge James Zagel says attorneys for Blagojevich Co-defendant William Cellini have argued forcefully for a new trial and he wants a hearing to look into evidence of why a juror in the case lied.

The juror lied about her criminal record which includes a DUI and possession of crack cocaine. The lies weren't discovered until after Cellini was convicted in the political corruption case.

Judge Zagel said even when a felon slips through the screening process, that doesn't mean the case is automatically overturned. Felons can serve on juries. But Zagel said the fact that the juror lied about her record could show a bias of some sort. Nonetheless, Zagel said Cellini has to prove there was an actual bias. If the juror gives a credible explanation that she was confused or embarrassed then a new trial is unlikely.

Cellini's attorneys have argued that the juror questionnaire was mailed out and was therefore essentially anonymous and shouldn't have caused any embarrassment. They also said the questions on criminal history were very clear.