Rod Blagojevich Saved By One Stubborn Female Juror

Aug 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm
click to enlarge Does this look like the face of a criminal? - Image via
Image via
Does this look like the face of a criminal?
After a jury deadlocked on all but one of 24 corruption charges against Rod Blagojevich -- convicting him only of the relatively minor offense of lying to the FBI -- the former Illinois governor declared victory. Standing on the courthouse steps in Chicago, he told a swarm of reporters that he had won his "fight for the very freedoms that we as Americans enjoy...the right to be able to be innocent."

Ah yes, the "right to be able to be innocent." That one just barely missed the cut for the Bill of Rights (silly Founding Fathers!) but it has still been enjoyed by countless celebrity citizens over the years, from Roman Polanski to OJ Simpson.

See, while eleven of Blagojevich's peers thought that he was a scoundrel of the lowest sort, guilty of attempting to sell Barack Obama's "fucking golden" senate seat to the highest bidder, there was one stubborn woman who, in the words of her fellow jurors, "just didn't see what we all saw."

The other jurors -- who sacrificed three months of their lives over the course the trial -- are keeping mum about the identity of Ms. Mistrial.

Here's what they told the Associated Press yesterday:
"I had him guilty on all counts," said James Matsumoto, 66, a Vietnam veteran and retired television station librarian who served as foreman.

Matsumoto and juror Erik Sarnello said the most sensational allegation -- that Blagojevich tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's Senate seat -- was the one that most jurors agreed was true.

"For a lot of us, the Senate seat was the most obvious," said [Erik] Sarnello, a 21-year-old College of DuPage student from Itasca.

Unlike some juries that report angry deliberations and even physical confrontations, jurors in the Blagojevich case said that while there was arguing, it was always respectful. "No yelling," Sarnello said. But he and Wlodek told the AP that after three weeks, it was clear one juror, a woman they wouldn't name, would not be swayed.
MSNBC quoted another juror, Stephen Wlodek, as saying that "the people of the state just did not have justice served."

Part of the problem, according to several accounts, was that prosecutors made their case overly complicated and lacked hard evidence beyond the FBI's incriminating wiretap recordings. Blagojevich and his legal team also deserve credit for their gamesmanship. They promised that the ex-Gov. would testify in his own defense, then rested their case before prosecutors had the chance to get him on the stand for an interrogation.

Ultimately, though, the blame for this epic legal boondoggle (and the subsequent multimillion dollar retrial) falls squarely on the shoulders of some anonymous lady who wouldn't know guilty if it walked up and slapped her in the face.