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Blagojevich jurors confident in 'fair, just verdict'

Monday, June 27, 2011
Jurors listen to a question after delivering 17 guilty verdicts.

The 11 women and one man who made up the jury in the second Rod Blagojevich trial said they are confident they reached a ''fair and just verdict.'' Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts.

The former governor was not guilty on one count and the jury was deadlocked on two others.

"We were thorough and detailed in examing all the evidence in all 20 counts. Throughout the process we were very respectful of each others' views and opinions," said Juror 146, who served as forewoman.

Jurors spoke to the media Monday afternoon after the verdict was read. They said the hardest time reaching a decision on the counts related to allegations Blagojevich squeezed tollway and school executives for campaign cash. The easiest decision involved the U.S. Senate seat.

"We felt it was very clear that he was trying to make a trade for the Senate seat," Juror 140 said. "At times I thought it was manipulative. I would have rather heard just the facts."

The forewoman said, "I think the United States would be very proud of the system." She said they worked very hard and everyone was extremely respectful of each others views. She said they voted several times on some counts.

"There was many times we had to keep revoting," said one female juror.

The forewoman said the jury looked at all the counts grouped together, focusing at first on the ones related to the U.S. Senate seat, then the others as they were related.

The jurors, who did not give their names, said Blagojevich's "personable" testimony made their jobs harder. "We had to put aside whether we liked him or didn't like him and just go by the evidence," said another juror.

"He showed us he was human," said one juror said of his testimony. They all agreed Blagojevich was "likeable."

The forewoman said the jury has a pact not to discuss the split of votes in the trial. They hope this will be their only press conference and asked the press for privacy. The jurors said they found Bradley Tusk, Blagojevich's former deputy governor, the most credible witness and Blagojevich's college friend, Lon Monk, the least.

"He had nothing to gain or lose from testimony," a juror said about Tusk.

"That scared us all to death," one juror said when asked about the first question Blagojevich faced from Prosecutor Reid Schar, "You are a convicted liar, correct?" The other jurors laughed and agreed.

The forewoman, a retired church music director from Naperville, also thanked Judge James Zagel, his staff, and the media.

After listening to weeks of evidence, jurors seemed to leave with a bad taste of Illinois politics.

"I told my husband that if he was running for politics, he would probably have to find a new wife," said the forewoman.

Jurors' names will be released to the public on Tuesday.

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