Tips from juror for Blago retrial
Patrick Fitzgerald take note — when you retry Rod Blagojevich, keep it simple.
That’s the advice of the foreman of the hung jury that was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on 23 counts in the corruption case against the ousted Illinois governor.
Jury foreman James Matsumoto told NBC’s “Today Show” that prosecutors should re-try the case. Asked what advice he had for U.S. attorney Fitzgerald, Matsumoto said:
“If possible …streamline the case, concentrate on areas where they have more information and not rely so much on witness testimony which was sometimes weak. That’s where we split the most.”
“The major flaw (in the case) was probably the complexity … the amount of information that we had to digest. The length of the judge’s instructions to us,” the foreman said. He described the 14 days of deliberations as “fairly amicable” though the anger and frustration level rose as time went on and they could not reach agreement.
Matsumoto said the jury, which did find Blagojevich guilty on one count of lying to federal officials, just couldn’t reach unanimous agreement on the other 23 charges that ranged from racketeering to conspiracy, mail fraud and attempted extortion.
The allegations against Blagojevich included an attempt to sell or barter the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president.
Matsumoto said the jury was 11 to 1 in favor of convicting Blagojevich on a few of the counts, though he didn’t specify which ones. The lone holdout was a retired woman who did not believe any crime had been committed.
“The argument was that he was a politician, he was talking to other politicians,” Matsumoto said. “She saw it as no crime was being committed. It was just talk – political talk. That was her position and we …respected her position and her right to have that opinion. It just differed from ours.”
Will the U.S. attorney accept the jury’s suggestions? The government plans a retrial as soon as possible, so we will probably find out soon.
(Fixes typo in spelling of Fitzgerald in first paragraph)
Photo credit: REUTERS/Frank Polich (Blagojevich and his lawyer Sheldon Sorosky leaving federal building in Chicago during trial)