Just a week before trial is supposed to begin, attorneys for Rod and Rob Blagojevich will be back in court this afternoon asking a judge to start over with screening potential jurors.
In a filing Tuesday, Blagojevich lawyers argued U.S. District Judge James Zagel was wrong to dismiss hundreds of potential jurors who said serving on several month trial would create a "hardship" for them.
The defense has now filed two motions arguing they legally had every right to have a say in the dismissal of potential jurors. They say that Zagel on his own dismissed 75 percent of the 400-member jury pool based on their responses on the jury questionnaire. Those potential jurors said the length of the trial would create a hardship for them, defense lawyers said.
Official jury selection is to begin next week. And those who are considered will be picked from the remaining pool left after Zagel's pre-screening.
In a filing today lawyers cite other cases that say defendants have a constitutional right to be present during the pre-screening of jurors in the case.
"The prospective jurors either know or have reason to believe that this is jury selection in the Blagojevich case. The defendants have a right to be included in this process - at the very least have input (along with the government) as to the threshold requirements for hardship excusal," they wrote.
The issue will come up at a 4:30 p.m. hearing. If Zagel were to restart juror screening, it's likely to delay the trial set to begin June 3.
Contributing: Sarah Ostman