Rod Blagojevich's renewed request to delay the trial was once again rejected today, setting the stage for jury selection tomorrow morning -- right on schedule.
That in and of itself is something of a feat, given the kinds of delays typical in such high profile trials.
The 2005-2006 trial of former Gov. George Ryan was delayed for months after Ryan made a personal plea to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to wait until the lawyer of his choice -- Dan Webb -- was through with another trial. Pallmeyer granted the delay after prosecutors turned over key documents revealing their strategy to the defense.
Not the case here.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel said today that lawyers will draw from a pool of nearly 100 potential jurors. Today, those potential jurors are filling out a questionnaire that contains more than 100 questions, including whether they had seen Rod Blagojevich on television and whether the viewing mars their view of him, one way or another.
Tomorrow, 34 people from that pool will be called in for questioning.
"I very much doubt we'll have a jury at the end of the first day," Zagel said.
He may have been the only person in the room who thought that was even a remote possibility.
Zagel predicted it will take three or four days before a jury is selected. With selection happening Thursday and Friday, we could have opening statements by early next week.
There will be 12 jurors selected and probably six alternates, defense lawyers Shelly Sorosky and Michael Ettinger said after court.
Defense lawyers will be given 13 preemptory challenges -- or the means to get rid of 13 jurors for any reason. The prosecution gets nine of those.
There's an infinite number of potential dismissals "for cause," meaning anyone who says (or the parties believe) he or she cannot be fair and impartial.