Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

Blagojevich lawyers today will ask judge to restart jury screening

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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

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman The federal judge in the Rod Blagojevich case today said there was nothing wrong with letting go a bulk of jurors who said that serving in the case would create a hardship for them. Judge James... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on May 27, 2010 1:42 PM.

Blagojevich defense wants judge to start over with jury screening was the previous entry in this blog.

Blagojevich judge says he won't start over with jury screening is the next entry in this blog.

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