Judge throws out juror motion filed by Blago team
December 19, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A federal judge berated the legal team from Rod Blagojevich's corruption retrial for a motion he described as "harebrained."
Attorneys for the former governor were denied a legal effort that cited potential misconduct by Connie Wilson, the foreman in the retrial. The motion asked Judge James Zagel to look into whether Wilson violated a court order by publically sharing her jury questionnaire.
Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges, which he begins serving in March.
It took less than five minutes for Judge Zagel to throw the motion out and use the limited time to scold Blagojevich's lawyers, saying, "the motion was prepared without any adequate thought."
"All we asked for was an evidentiary hearing to find out how this juror obtained a juror questionnaire which was forbidden," said Aaron Goldstein, Blagojevich defense attorney.
Because they are not legally allowed to speak with jurors, Blagojevich's lawyers filed the motion based on a newspaper article which reported that Wilson, a former teacher, spoke at a local high school and showed a jury questionnaire to the class. Her questionnaire from the trial is the property of the court.
But Wilson says that is not what she showed the students.
"It's just a blank form, that is what I showed. There is no way I can get ahold of anything from the trial," said Wilson.
Wilson says the blank form came from the federal court clerk's office. Judge Zagel specifically admonished defense attorney Lauren Kaeseberg who drafted the motion. He told her he could hold her in contempt of court but wouldn't because she is a new lawyer.
"I'm disappointed only because I know that we filed this motion in good faith, absolutely. I stand by the motion 100 percent," said Kaeseberg.
Judge Zagel went as far as saying the motion is a bit of a retaliatory move against the juror. He also suggested that Kaeseberg write Connie Wilson an apology letter, something Wilson says isn't necessary.
"They are just doing their job. They are lawyers and they are there for their client and they are going to do the best they can for their client. So it's part of the process," said Wilson.
Wilson agreed to speak at a high school to teach students about the importance of jury duty.
local, sarah schulte
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