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

Judge Zagel gives case to jury: "Your sole interest is to determine whether the government has proven its case"

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

It's official. The case of former governor Rod Blagojevich is now in the hands of jurors.

They must weigh 24 counts against the former governor and four counts against his brother.

Before Zagel allowed them to go to the jury room, Judge James Zagel explained to jurors what to expect.

They must pick a foreman to lead the discussions. They may only communicate with the judge, if need be, by sending a note signed by the foreman. That note can never say how, numerically, the jury is divided.

Zagel then said he had one final instruction.

"The verdict must represent a considered judgment of each juror. Your verdict, whether it be guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous. You should make every reasonable effort to reach a verdict," Zagel said.

"In doing so, you should consult with one another ... discuss your differences, if you have them, with an open mind. Do not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinions if you come to believe it is wrong," but do not go along with a verdict that you do not believe with, the judge says.

"Each of you should give fair and equal consideration to the evidence and deliberate with the goal of reaching an agreement," Zagel says. "Your sole interest is to determine whether the government has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt."

"With that," he says, and the jury files out. Court is adjourned.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on July 28, 2010 11:48 AM.

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