The jurors who sat in judgment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich were, by their accounts, cordial and careful in their consideration of charges against the colorful politician, coming close to convicting him on many counts – including a plot to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. After 14 days of deliberation, the Chicago Tribune reports, they were able to find unity on just one of the 24 counts. Blagojevich was convicted only of lying to the FBI, leaving many of the jurors dissatisfied with the result. Federal prosecutors plan a retrial.
“It is disappointing to have something of this magnitude and this much effort end like this,” said juror Stephen Wlodek. Said foreman James Matsumoto: “They were very strong personalities; they were all independent thinkers.” He would have convicted Blagojevich on all counts, saying that the case slowly built, “layer upon layer.” He added: “You just say, ‘God, what was he doing?’ You find out here they were selling seats on boards and commissions. That to me was shocking.” In the end, he said, the “lack of a smoking gun” was too much of a hurdle for jurors to reach more than the one unanimous decision. Erik Sarnello, 21, said a female juror who was the lone holdout on convicting Blagojevich of attempting to sell the Senate seat “wanted clear-cut evidence, and not everything was clear-cut.” Sarnello, a sophomore at College of DuPage studying criminal justice, said the main problem with the prosecution’s case was that it was all over the place. “It confused people,” he said. “They didn’t follow a timeline. They jumped around.”