The first trial against former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was a bust.
On August 17, 2010, Blagojevich was found guilty of “making a false statement to the FBI in March of 2005.” The Feds anticipated that crime to be a gimme in their stellar case against the former governor, which was built around serious offenses, like racketeering, extortion and attempting to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat, but the jury was hung on all of those other charges.
I’ll never forget how livid the prosecutors appeared after hearing the jury’s verdict. I told Newsmax: “They are in denial. They believe that this was just a bad jury. If I were a juror, I would be very offended that this jury wasn’t good enough. That’s what I sensed they were saying.”
Almost immediately after the verdict was read, the Feds announced their intention to retry Blagojevich as soon as possible.
The following month, in September of 2010, a Tribune/WGN poll asked if Blagojevich should be retried. “In Chicago, 35 percent of voters favored retrial and 51 percent opposed it.” Just 1/3 of Chicagoans favored a retrial!
But the Feds don’t care about public opinion. Nor do they care about a jury’s opinion.
Nor do they care about money. Keep in mind, taxpayers’ money is used to prosecute Blagojevich…and Scooter Libby…and Senator Ted Stevens…and Barry Bonds. The money pit is bottomless for the Feds.
The jury selection for the second trial began last week. Interestingly, potential jurors were most concerned about whether the trial will prevent them from paying their bills. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Throughout jury selection on Monday, economic concerns among prospective jurors kept cropping up.” One potential juror said she’s afraid she’ll lose her house. A man said sitting on the jury would “kill” his upholstery business. Another new homeowner fears she and her husband won’t be able to pay the bills if she’s selected. And another woman told the judge that the two days she’s been out of work thus far have already put her in fear of financial hardship.
The AFSCME Local 106 union member had a different problem. She didn’t want to miss out on Oprah on May 10. The anti-union group may be growling but here is a prime example of how a union protects its members while preserving the judicial system. Like it or not, a union member can participate in jury duty without having to worry about losing his or her job. Most people on trial would rather have a juror capable of listening to the evidence instead of stressing about how she’s going to pay the bills during the trial.
What kind of message does it send to the American public, Democrat or Republican, union member or small business owner, that as Washington fights about the budget, the Feds are unfazed by trying Blagojevich again, regardless of the cost.
Meanwhile, the average juror has a duty to put food on the table before putting an “X” on the verdict form. The reality is that this terrible economy is affecting everyone, even the jury pool.
Tamara N. Holder is one of the nation’s rising attorney and legal analytical stars. She is a Contributor for the Fox News Channel. She founded The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC, in 2005. Her work includes: criminal defense, expungement, race discrimination, police brutality, public policy, and pro bono practices. Seeing the need for outreach in this area, Tamara founded www.xpunged.com, a practice that provides a second chance to those individuals who have expungeable offenses under Illinois law. She is a former clerk to the Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at Miramax/Dimension Films.