Juror lie may keep Cellini out of prison on appeal

November 11, 2011

Download Story
(AP/M. Spencer Green)
William Cellini

Lawyers for Blagojevich co-defendant William Cellini will likely file a motion Monday asking a judge to throw out the conviction of the politically connected businessman.

The request comes after the Chicago Tribune reported last week that one of the jurors on the case lied about her own criminal record, which included convictions for driving under the influence and possession of crack cocaine.  Cellini's lawyer Dan Webb says based on that they plan to ask for a mistrial.

Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer says whatever the judge decides about a mistrial, this issue presents a good opportunity for Cellini to stay out of prison while his appeal goes through the courts.  Cramer says "When there are viable issues, and I think this is one, the argument which makes sense is: Why send a defendant to jail when an appellate court might overturn this conviction?"

Cramer says most defendants have to start serving time even if they're appealing their cases because the law values the finality of verdicts.