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

August 2010 Archives


The onetime owner of a Joliet landfill that was the subject of a legendary feud that turned federal authorities' attention to Rod Blagojevich in 2005, has been charged with tax evasion.

Frank Schmidt, 40, of Glenview, was charged with five counts of tax evasion tied to allegedly failing to pay $2 million in taxes owed on more than $11 million in income over the last five years.

Schmidt was the sole owner of Land Reclamation Services landfill.

In January 2005, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered state environmental workers to shut down the owned by Schmidt -- a relative of Blagojevich's wife, Patti, and of his father-in-law, powerful Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd).

Blagojevich's administration had accused Schmidt of accepting illegal waste and of "using his ties to the Blagojevich family to solicit" business for an illegal-dumping operation.

Mell, in turn, publicly accused his son-in-law of trumping up the charges against Schmidt so Blagojevich could ride in like a political "white knight" at a time when his top campaign fund-raisers were -- as the fund-raisers' subsequent convictions would prove -- trading plum state-government appointments for hefty contributions to his Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund.


In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Robert Blagojevich discussed his battle with the federal government as well as the financial and emotional impact on his life.

As for his brother's next trial, he vowed not to turn on the former governor.

Click here to read more.


JoAnn Chiakulas, the lone juror who stood her ground and refused to convict Rod Blagojevich on Senate seat sale charges, has broken her silence.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Chiakulas -- Juror 106 -- said she didn't think the prosecution didn't prove its case on the Senate seat beyond a reasonable doubt.

They jury was split on some counts. But jurors said there was just one holdout on the Senate seat sale, wire fraud counts, which make up about nine of the charges against the former governor.



Today prosecutors announced they would drop all charges against Robert Blagojevich.

But just yesterday, they had a different proposal.

Click here to read more.

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In an interview just minutes after learning federal prosecutors had dropped the case against him, Robert Blagojevich said his wife cried at the news.

"It's stunning,'' Robert Blagojevich said after receiving a text message and cell phone call from his lawyer, Michael Ettinger, informing him he was "free.''

"The government did the right thing,'' Robert said. "They did the right thing.''

He said he and his wife, Julie, have called friends and they plan to go out for a steak dinner tonight.

Robert Blagojevich also said he plans to give his attorneys a "winners' bonus" for their work.

"They deserve it," he said.

For more, read the full story on charges being dropped against Robert: Click here


The Rod Blagojevich media tour 2010 stopped at the Daily Show this evening and funnyman Jon Stewart goes hard at Blagojevich's tough talk on TV.

Stewart tells Blagojevich he'd like to see him as a Dickens' character. But ...

"I'd like to see you as a victim -- but you make it so hard," Stewart says, dramatically lowering his head.

Blagojevich maintained that prosecutors lodged the loftiest of charges against him and still couldn't convict him of corruption.
"They threw everything at me but the kitchen sink ... everyone thought I was a scumbag around the world, right?" Blagojevich said. "That's what I'm up against."

Stewart played back a tape of Blagojevich from a year ago when he then tried to explain his words on tape: "I've got this thing and it's f---ing golden." In 2009, Blagojevich explains that in the next few words that prosecutors didn't reveal at the time, he talks about health care for Illinois. But the now-released tape shows Blagojevich actually discussed
parachuting himself into the Senate seat spot and calling President Obama a "demigod."

"The reality of what you said is very different," Stewart says.

Blagojevich hems and haws as he tries to explain: "Listen to the whole tape."

Stewart cuts him off: "Is this why you didn't take the stand?" the audience laughs.

Stewart then continued to grill Blagojevich for promising to take the stand but failing to do so at his trial.

"Do you promise to take the stand the next time you're indicted?" Stewart asks to many laughs.


The Rod Blagojevich tour 2010 stopped at the Daily Show this evening and funnyman Jon Stewart goes hard at Blagojevich's tough talk on TV.

Stewart tells Blagojevich he'd like to see him as a Dickens' character.

"I'd like to see you as a victim, but you make it so hard," Stewart says, dramatically lowering
his head.

Stewart played back a tape of Blagojevich from a year ago when he then tried to explain his words on tape: "I've got this thing and it's f---ing golden." In 2009, Blagojevich explains that in the next few words that prosecutors didn't reveal at the time, he talks about health care for Illinois. But the now-released tape shows Blagojevich actually discussed parachuting himself into the Senate seat spot and calling President Obama a "demigod."

Stewart grilled Blagojevich for promising to take the stand but failing to do so at his trial.

"Do you promise to take the stand the next time you're indicted?" Stewart asks to many laughs.


If Rod Blagojevich wants to tap public money for the defense costs in his next trial, he'll be limited to two lawyers.

Meanwhile, at least one defense lawyer in the case says he won't be prepared for retrial until next year.

Rod Blagojevich had five lawyers who questioned witnesses for the last go-around, plus two more attorneys who acted as support throughout the case.

In a retrial though, he'll only be able to have two if he wants public money, according to rules set out by the Criminal Justice Act. That act sets out the criteria for a defendant to tap public resources.

Former Federal Defender Terence F. MacCarthy said that U.S. District Judge James Zagel is bound by that act. It allows for one lawyer except in complicated cases or in death penalty cases.

"You can only have two lawyers in the courtroom," MacCarthy said. "There's a little wiggle room. If you've got someone doing a research project, you can wiggle room it in. But you cannot pay them for sitting in the courtroom."

Sources have said that both Sam Adam Jr. and his father no longer want to be on the case. Their defense team has tapped the $2.8 million campaign fund that was paid out at $110 an hour for the last trial.

While prosecutors have publicly said they want to retry the case as quickly as possible (Prosecutor Reid Schar even suggested "tomorrow" last week), Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, said he has schedule conflicts that would keep him from redoing the case this year.

"I'm out until next year," Ettinger said today.


BY MARK J. KONKOL AND NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporters

Jurors in the trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich overwhelmingly wanted to send his brother home a free man -- voting nine to three in favor of acquittal, one member of the jury said today. But the former governor "was lucky'' that he wasn't convicted on more counts, the juror said.

That juror, John Grover of Joliet, said in an interview this afternoon that prosecutors shouldn't put the Robert Blagojevich through another trial.

"I sat there for days and days and days and days and never heard his name mentioned," the disabled vet said.

Read today's story: Click here

Blagojevich jurors complaining to judge about media contact

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The Clerk of court has just sent out this release, on behalf of U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

"It has come to the Court's attention that certain jurors in the Blagojevich trial are calling and complaining about numerous phone calls from the media asking for interviews and visiting their homes. The United States Marshal has advised the jurors to call 911 to report the incidents.

Please keep in mind that some of these jurors simply do not wish to talk, and if they have not agreed to talk with you, we ask that you respect their privacy."


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Rod Blagojevich's jury says the case lacked a smoking gun: Read story, click here.


The Associated Press is reporting that juror Erik Sarnello says there was one female hold out juror.

CHICAGO (AP) ‹ A juror in the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich says the
panel was deadlocked 11-1 in favor of convicting the former Illinois
governor of trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former Senate
seat.
Juror Erik Sarnello of Itasca, Ill said a female holdout "just didn't see
what we all saw." The 21-year-old Sarnello said the counts around the Senate
seat were "the most obvious."
The jury convicted Blagojevich Tuesday of a lesser charge, lying to federal
agents, but could not reach an agreement on the remaining 23 charges.
Prosecutors have pledged to retry the case as soon as possible.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco and Abdon Pallasch

Speaking to reporters after the verdict, Rod Blagojevich blasted U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and his team of prosecutors and vowed to carry on the fight to prove his innocence. His wife, Patti, wore a somber look as the two held hands:

"The federal government -- and this particular prosecutor -- did everything he could to target me and prosecute me, persecute me, put pressure on my family, try to take our home, take me away me from our kids, arrest me," Blagojevich said. "That very prosecutor said that he was stopping a 'crime spree' before it happened. Well, this jury just showed you . . . notwithstanding the fact that the government through everything but the kitchen sink at me, that, on every count except for one - on every charge except for one -- they could not prove that I did anything wrong."

The lone exception, Blagojevich said, was a "nebulous charge from five years ago" -- lying to the FBI.

"The FBI, and I agreed to that interview, refused to allow me to have a court reporter in the room. I want the people of Illinois to know I did not lie to the FBI. I've told the truth from the very beginning.

"This is a persecution. We have police officers who are being gunned down on the street. We have children who can't play in front of their homes in the summertime because they might get gunned down. And we have a prosecutor who has wasted . . . tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to keep persecuting me, persecuting my family, take me away from my little girls, as well as take my home away from us."

"They threw everything they could at me -- 24 charges that I've said from the beginning are false, and the jury agreed that the government did not prove its case.

"And let me also point out that we didn't even put a defense on, and the government didn't prove its case. Patti and I are going to continue the fight, because this fight is a lot bigger than just me and my family."

Blagojevich leaves the courthouse to boos and cheers

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A huge mob scene formed downstairs. Dozens and dozens of people stood watch outside the courthouse and inside -- waiting to hear news of the verdict and to catch a glimpse of Rod Blagojevich.

The former governor left the courthouse minutes ago after proclaiming the prosecution's case -- which he estimated to cost millions of dollars -- a waste of taxpayer money.

Blagojevich worked the crowd, shaking hands, doing high-fives with the crowd and waving outside to the dismay of his wife, Patti, who yanked him by the arm and told him to move it along.

The prosecution is now addressing the media.

Blagojevich jurors tired, not speaking to the media

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco and Abdon Pallasch

The Blagojevich jurors are leaving the courthouse without addressing the media, saying they are tired after a long day of deliberating.

It was thought that they might hold a press conference in one of the courtrooms here, but that doesn't appear to be happening now.

Robert Blagojevich: "I feel bad for my brother."

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco and Abdon Pallasch

Shortly after learning that he would have to withstand a re-trial, Robert Blagojevich told the media that he would once again proclaim his innocence in what he called a "surreal" experience.

"I have lived through the most surreal experience anyone could live through," Robert Blagojevich told a crowd of reporters minutes ago in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building.

Robert again described his prosecution as a "slow bleed," both emotionally and financially.

But despite it all, he said, "I don't feel in any way deterred in my ability to articulate my innocence," adding that he would not cut a plea deal.

Robert also expressed sympathy for his ex-governor brother, who was just convicted of making false statements to the FBI.

"I feel bad for my brother," Robert said. "I feel bad for him."

Asked about his relationship with Rod, Robert responded, "I don't comment on my relationship with my brother." In the past, he's been pretty open about it, saying their relationship is "strained."

Robert's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said he would again explore the possibility of getting Robert his own trial when he is tried again -- separate from his brother's.

Ettinger said Judge Zagel has already shot down that request once. The attorney also said he might change up the case for a retrial by calling additional witnesses.

Robert said he "absolutely" felt he made the right decision in testifying, and sees no reason why he wouldn't testify again in the retrial.

"I've got a little practice under my belt now," he said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The jury has found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on just one of the 24 corruption counts against him -- count 24, making false statement to the FBI.

That count alleges that the ex-governor lied to federal agents in 2005 when they questioned him about "pay to play" politics. He told the agents he kept his fund-raising and politics separate.

That charge carries a maximum five-year prison term and $250,000 fine.

This means the jury was divided on all 23 remaining counts against the ex-governor, and on all four counts against his brother, Robert.

Judge James Zagel said he would declare a mistrial on those 23 counts. He said he would give prosecutors until Sept. 7 to decide if they wanted to retry the case, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar wasted no time in responding.

"It is absolutely my intention to retry this ... as quickly as possible," Schar said.

When the verdict was read, there wasn't a visible sense of relief at the defense table. Rod Blagojevich looked at the jury and shook his head. It appears the defense was hoping for some acquittals.

After the jury left, Sam Adam Jr. sat next to Rod and put his arm around him, looking as if he were consoling him. He now has to go through this again.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

Judge James Zagel has entered the courtroom. He and the attorneys are discussing the forfeiture proceedings, and whether they will be held tomorrow or directly following the verdict announcement.

The six alternate jurors who were dismissed at the beginning of the deliberations are seated in the courtroom, opposite the jury box. They had previously asked to be present for the verdict's reading.

FBI chief Rob Grant and Patrick Fitzgerald are also seated in the courtroom gallery.

Rod is seated, looking at lawyers, hands clasped, hands drumming.

Robert just leaned over to his wife, Julie, put his hands on hers and whispered something reassuring. She nodded.

Zagel is off the bench, saying, "I will be bringing out the jury shortly."

end

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The clerk of court has just sent official word -- there is a verdict in the Blagojevich trial.

By now, nearly everyone is seated in the courtroom, waiting for the proceedings to begin.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Chris Fusco

The courthouse is preparing for the arrival of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, for what is expected to be the conclusion of his corruption trial.

The security barricades have gone up outside in anticipation of their arrival, and they're lined by a throng of cameras.

Rod's father-son defenders, Sam Adam Sr. and Jr., have just gone through the metal detectors. They appeared harried, saying nothing to the press.

Rod and Patti arrive at about 3:45. She's dressed in black pants and a black and white shirt; he's in a blue suit with a blue tie.

The ex-governor wave and kisses his wife on the cheek. A man shouts out, asking if there's a verdict. Rod is silent.

Upstairs, Rod and Patti walk onto the 25th floor holding hands. Rod smiles at the media.

"Say a prayer for us," he says.

Everyone appears to have gathered -- it's 3:50, and Robert and Julie Blagojevich have just arrived.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Lawyers for both Robert and Rod Blagojevich say they were summoned to court and were told that Rod and Robert Blagojevich should appear there too.

Michael Ettinger and Sam Adam Jr. both said they weren't given any additional information.

Behind-the-scenes signals are that a verdict -- or conclusion -- is imminent and will be read in one hour.

Barricades are being set up outside where Rod Blagojevich walks into the courthouse and Rod Blagojevich has already left his home.

The development comes on the 14th day of deliberations in the case and after jurors signaled this morning that some discord remained on the 12-member panel.

Jurors today asked for a copy of the oath they took when they were seated as well as instructions on how to fill out their verdict form if they can't reach a unanimous decision on a certain count or counts.

Blagojevich trial: Lawyers are summoned to courtroom

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Lawyers in Rod Blagojevich's case were asked to head to the courtroom.

Details coming.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

The courthouse is abuzz with questions after this morning's hearing. The jury's note indicates the panel is close to returning a verdict -- but how close? It's likely the jury is split and tempers are frayed -- but how split? How frayed?

Their request for a copy of the juror oath, especially, paints an interesting picture of what's going on behind those jury room doors.

That request -- coupled with their other question, about how to write a split vote on a verdict form -- could indicate that the group has reached an all-new level of infighting, that one camp is trying to show another camp that they aren't upholding their promise to "well and truly try" to reach a verdict.

The question may be, how long will they drag out that fight?

And so we wait. In the meantime, here's the text of that oath given to jurors in criminal cases -- the text given to the jury earlier:

"Do each of you solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will well and truly try, and true deliverance make, in the case now on trial and render a true verdict according to the law and the evidence, so help you God?"

Reporting with Mark Brown, Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, said after court that he interpreted the latest communication with the jury as "all that's left is to sign the jury forms."

Ettinger said he expects the jury to return later today.

Asked about the jury requesting a copy of its oath, Ettinger said he expects "someone is going to be read that card and told they are violating their oath."

He said he had never seen such a request and he took it as a sign of frayed tempers.

"They've gone as far as they can go," he said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

It appears the jury may be on the verge of announcing a verdict.

The six men and six women sent out a note this morning asking for two things -- first, a copy of the oath they took when they were seated, and second, instructions on how to fill out their verdict form if they can't reach a unanimous decision on a certain count or counts.

Zagel said he would provide the oath and offer directions on how to complete the forms.

The jury's request for a copy of the oath could signal a new level of division within the group.

The prosecution pushed the judge to send an additional instruction asking the jury to "make every effort to make a unanimous verdict" -- but Zagel declined.

Instead, the judge said he would send a note stating, "I remind you that in addition to the oath, you have my instructions, which must govern your deliberations and decisions."

Zagel recognized that these questions show a verdict is near.

"Because the tenor of the note indicates there is at least a possibility a verdict may be returned this week, I've entered an order requiring the defendants to be no more than a half-hour journey to the courthouse," the judge said.

Attorneys filed into Judge James Zagel's courtroom at around 11:35, after beginning the hearing in a private room with the defendants on the phone.

While the outcome is still anybody's guess, the attorneys displayed definite body language. The prosecutors appeared serious and dour; the defense team, on the other hand, appeared more jovial than usual. Rod Blagojevich's attorney, Sam Adam Jr., was even spotted flashing a grin.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

It has just been announced that the jury has sent out another question. They'll be discussing it in open court shortly -- more information to come.

Judge James Zagel has asked Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, to be available by phone for the hearing.

Yesterday, the jury asked for the testimony of onetime-Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk, which the judge agreed to give them.

Today is deliberation Day 14.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Attorneys are gathering outside Judge Zagel's courtroom for a morning check-in -- although the reason for the meeting is unclear. A crowd of reporters is chatting while they wait; prosecutors are camped out down the roped-off hallway, outside the judge's closed door.

Earlier, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. chatted with the media in the cafeteria downstairs. He said Rod Blagojevich remains mostly homebound while he awaits the verdict, but is keeping up his jogging routine.

Someone asked Adam an off-the-cuff question: If this story were turned into a movie, what actor would play you?

His answer: Danny DeVito.

Blagojevich lawyer: "None of the pundits predicted this."

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It's Day 14 of the deliberations in Rod Blagojevich's corruption case and Sam Adam Jr. continues on a roller coaster that on the same day has given him a shot of adrenaline, then leaves him numb.

Reading the tea leaves with how the jury is leaning has left the entire defense team a bit jittery, he says.

"None of us have nails left," he said this morning.

Adam, who plans to go to the courthouse this morning and possibly give a statement to the media, said no one expected the jury to take this long.

"They said we were going to get steamrolled," Sam Adam Jr. said. "None of the pundits predicted this."

"People said we were nuts, we were crazy for having him be public, for having him make statements, for having him make the tactics we were taking and not pleading him," Adam said of allowing Rod Blagojevich to appear on just about every news talk show in production.

Going into trial, Adam said he was told time and again that Blagojevich was toast.

And now, the jury has deliberated for 14 days -- nearly half of the entirety of the length of the trial.

The jury last week indicated they were deadlocked on every count except for two in the 24-count indictment. They were told to get back to work and yesterday asked for testimony of a former top aide to Blagojevich.

"You got to figure there's someone in there fighting for you," Adam said. "These people took their jobs seriously. No matter what the outcome -- and I think it's going to be a not guilty -- these people have done their American civic duty."

Adam, who lost more than 30 pounds during the trial, said he managed to eat a full meal over the weekend. "Maybe I'm getting used to it."


Rod Blagojevich's jury has moved to its 14th day of deliberations --
that's nearly half as long as the entirety of the trial, which stretched about 30 days (counting jury selection, openings, closings and jury instructions).

It's clear there's a division in the jury room.

But what's the division?

Since last week's initial note from the panel, defense lawyers surmised that the camps were pretty well split. And the higher the number of holdouts, the better it is for the defense, since it will mean that many more people would have to be convinced to go over to the prosecution's side.

Judge James Zagel only read a portion of last week's first note from the jurors. The portion not read, I'm told, led attorneys to believe the 12 were pretty well split.
They told Zagel they could not agree on any count that involved a "specific act," and said that only part of the group believed the government proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yesterday they signaled they were headed back to do more work, asking for a transcript.

Blagojevich jury calls it a day, moves on to day 14

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney


It was a quiet afternoon here at the Dirksen Building, following this morning's jury question.

And now, the jurors have headed home, concluding their 13th day of deliberations. They'll be back in the morning.


Rumors of a mistrial, hung jury or partial verdict ran rampant this morning.

Then jurors in Rod Blagojevich's case threw us a curve ball.

They've asked for a complete transcript of testimony of a governor's onetime aide.

Bradley Tusk's June 21st testimony was relatively brief and came on a busy trial day.
Tusk, a onetime aide to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, testified about an alleged shakedown scheme contained in the government's indictment.

Tusk said while he was deputy governor of Illinois Blagojevich told him he wanted a message delivered to then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel: A $2 million grant for the Chicago Academy, a school in Emanuel's district, was on hold unless his brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, held a fund-raiser.

Ari is the inspiration for the "Entourage" character, Ari Gold.

Tusk said he didn't deliver the message but called Blagojevich's lawyer to tell him: "You need to get your client under control."

Tusk's time on the stand came on a big day for the trial.
Racetrack owner John Johnston testified in the morning for the prosecution and the day former chief of staff John Harris also took the stand.

Here's some of our postings on Tusk's testimony: Click here

And here

And here

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

As Judge James Zagel described it, the jury's question was "less than earth-shattering."

The jurors asked for the transcript of deputy governor Bradley Tusk's testimony in its entirety. Zagel has agreed to provide it.

Tusk's testimony centered on a charge involving the alleged attempted extortion of Rahm Emanuel, then a congressman. That charge is count 14 -- and not directly among the 11 wire fraud counts that the panel presumably was going back and deliberating after revealing Thursday they hadn't come to a conclusion on those counts.

However, the Emanuel scheme is included in three other, broader counts, including count one: racketeering; count two: racketeering conspiracy and the overall wire fraud scheme, which is spelled out in count three in the indictment.

Count three is a long, cumbersome charge that includes an overview of all the major schemes in the case but it is charged as a wire fraud.

In his testimony, Bradley Tusk, a onetime aide to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said that while he was deputy governor of Illinois, Blagojevich told him he wanted a message delivered to then-U.S. Rep. Emanuel: A $2 million grant for the Chicago Academy, a school in Emanuel's district, was on hold unless his brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, held a fund-raiser.

Ari is the inspiration for the "Entourage" character, Ari Gold.

Tusk said he didn't deliver the message but called Blagojevich's lawyer, Bill Quinlan, and told him: "You need to get your client under control."

Neither Rahm Emanuel nor his brother held a fund-raiser for Blagojevich. And the school did get eventually get the money, but the funds were released slowly, according to testimony.

Today's communication from jurors comes after a three-day weekend for the panel, which signaled on Thursday it was at a stalemate over much of the case after 12 days of talks.

Jurors last week said they had agreed on just two of the 24 counts. They had not even deliberated on 11 wire fraud counts.

Zagel asked them to go back and discuss those charges even if they conclude they could not agree.

The jury is now on a lunch break. Zagel is giving the defense 30 minutes to come up with case law to dispute any issues.

Defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein had asked that jurors be told they should rely on their best recollection of the testimony even after they were given the transcript. Zagel said if Goldstein could give him case law on that, he'd consider it.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

After a quiet couple of hours this Monday morning, there is another question from the jury.

Judge James Zagel has called attorneys into court to discuss. They're on the Dirksen Building's 25th floor now, waiting for the hearing to begin. More soon.

Jurors signaled last Thursday that they were having trouble reaching an agreement on most of the counts before them.

There was some expectation that we'd hear from jurors this morning given their notes last week. Parties in the case were gathered outside the courtroom this morning even before knowing about a question.

Today is day 13 of the jury's deliberations.

Blagojevich jury impasse; An ominous sign for prosecutors?

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blagojury.jpeg

Jurors deciding Rod Blagojevich's fate gave an ominous sign to the prosecution Thursday, revealing that after 12 days of talks they were at a stalemate with most of the 24 explosive counts leveled against the former governor.

The jury's struggles don't square with the open-and-shut case prosecutors first presented 19 months ago when they arrested the sitting governor in his home and accused him of presiding over a "political crime spree" laid out in secret FBI wiretaps.

Read today's story: Click here

Are you smarter than Rod Blagojevich?

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Rod Blagojevich played trivia with reporters while waiting on word from his federal jury Thursday, which indicated it had only agreed on two of 24 counts against him.

Turns out the former governor is pretty good at trivia.

His strengths? Sports and history.

Read today's story: Click here

Lawyers: Blagojevich jury is gone for the week

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman and Dave McKinney

So it's wait until next week.

We've reported earlier this week -- but it's just been reiterated -- jurors in the Rod Blagojevich case have said they do not want to deliberate tomorrow.

And two attorneys in the case say they were just told this that the jury is gone for the day.

The news comes after jurors indicated today that they were at a stalemate on most of the 24 counts in the indictment. They had only come to a conclusion on two counts, they said.

It was a tense day, which Rod Blagojevich and his brother both spent inside the courthouse. Rod Blagojevich played a board game with some reporters and attorneys in the cafeteria, while waiting on an update from jurors that never came.

A note sent to the judge today said they hadn't even considered the wire fraud counts, which make up 11 of the 24 charges in the indictment.

"We've deliberated on all acts and counts with the exception of the wire fraud counts. We have reached unanimous agreement on two counts. We have been unable to agree on any of the remaining counts."

What the jury's weighing -- the different schemes

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Here's a story explaining the different schemes against Rod Blagojevich and maybe give an inkling into what the jury's hashing through right now.
In all, there's 24 counts total. Rod is charged in each of the 24 counts, Robert is charged in four of the 24 counts.

Read the story here: Click here

Rod Blagojevich skips lunch, opts for a Snapple

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

In the courthouse cafeteria, Rod Blagojevich walks up to random people, shaking their hands.

"Enjoy your lunch," he says.

Asked what he's eating for lunch, the ex-governor points to his Snapple, not saying a word. He's sitting with Patti, who does appear to be eating some food.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

After court, defense attorneys gathered in the hot and humid lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building to address the media.

"I think there's a lot of cautious optimism," said attorney Aaron Goldstein of the Blagojevich camp.

Still, Goldstein added, the former governor is "anxious."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallash

The Blagojevich jury has reached a unanimous decision on only two of 24 counts before them -- and they have not yet started deliberating on what could be a big chunk of work for them.

"Your Honor," their note reads. "In response to your communication of 11 August, 2010, we've deliberated on all acts and counts with the exception of the wire fraud counts. We have reached unanimous agreement on two counts. We have been unable to agree on any of the remaining counts."

At hearing the news, Rod presses his lips together and looks as if he is trying to suppress a smile.

Judge James Zagel wants to send jurors a note telling them to go back and deliberate on the counts they haven't even talked about. There are 11 wire fraud counts, and they largely have to do with the Senate seat sale but they also include alleged schemes involving Children's Memorial Hospital and a racetrack legislation.

The judge proposed responding with a note that says, in part:

"You should deliberate on the wire fraud counts to the extent necessary to enable you to vote on those counts. We recognize that your stated inability to reach agreement on other counts may have established to your satisfaction that you would be similarly unable to reach unanimity on some or all of the wire fraud counts. Nonetheless, a deliberative decision by you on each of those counts should be made, even if it is a decision that you cannot reach unanimity on any of those counts."

Zagel has given attorneys 10 minutes to mull this over.

While we wait, Rod and Patti huddle with a family member and an adviser, who reached over and straightened Rod's blue tie as they spoke. Rod's face showed no emotion. At the next table. Robert Blagojevich stood with his wife and friends, likewise not letting his face betray emotion.

Back in court, attorneys say they are OK with the wording of the note with the exception of the word "vote," which they want to change to the word "decide."

"We don't want a situation where this is viewed as a supplemental instruction," a defense attorney tells the judge. Zagel agrees.

"The jury is at lunch," the judge says. "When they return, they will receive this in written form."

At the conclusion of court, Rod walks up to Patti and hugs her, rubbing her shoulders from behind.

Court is adjourned.

Blagojevich trial: And ... we're still waiting

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Unsurprisingly, we're still waiting for the 11 a.m. hearing to begin.

We're on "Zagel time," reporters are joking.

There's chatter in the courtroom while we wait. Rod and his lawyers are talking and occasionally there's a loud roar of laughter from his packed defense table.

Sketch artists are furiously drawing.

Earlier, Rod got up from his chair, walked over to Patti and pecked her on the cheek.

She's wearing a flowy, white and black blouse and a black skirt. She's sitting in her same spot -- where she was all trial long, in the front row. Her brother is sitting next to her, his arm stretched behind her on a black leather chair.

The door leading from the courtroom to the judge's chamber has been ajar. Someone just shut it hard. And we wait.

The judge has entered.

Blagojevich trial: Hearing about jury deadlock nears

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

People are assembling for a scheduled 11 a.m. hearing in which we expect to get more information on the jury's deadlock.

Robert Blagojevich walks in the 25th floor courtroom alongside his wife, Julie, and son, Alex. "Good morning," he says to the reporters assembling in the hall.

A few minutes later, the father and son Sam Adams walk in, all smiles. Sam Sr. is dressed in a tan three-piece suit.

There's a line of people running all the way down the hallway of the 25th floor. Some are members of the public, hoping to slip into the courtroom -- even though we don't know the content of the note.

Out on the sidewalk, camera crews line the barricades set up at the courthouse's Dearborn Street entrance. Police Supt. Jody Weis stops by to shake hands with a Chicago police office providing security outside.

Rod and Patti Blagojevich enter the building at around 10:55.

"Good luck. God bless you," Rod told the crowd.

The pair walks past a crowd into the elevators. A man in line leans over to tell Rod that two people in Peoria, including "Carly" said to say hi -- "especially to Patti."

Patti turns with recognition and says, "Oh."

Rod: "How old is Carly, 15?"

The ex-governor gives a gentle wave to the crowd and walks in without saying anything.

Rod -- who was called out in the trial for dropping thousands upon thousands of dollars on designer neckties -- is again wearing the same Copenhagen blue tie that he's worn time and time again throughout the proceedings.

Deliberation Day 12. Will we have a conclusion?

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In its first communication in eight days, Rod Blagojevich's jury leaves us with a cliffhanger.

The jurors say they're deadlocked on some counts, they've tried to come to consensus and cannot. They want direction.

Here's a few things to consider as we await an 11 a.m. hearing where jurors will answer the note sent from Judge James Zagel, which asks for clarification on their division.

• Jurors earlier this week had already asked for the day off on Friday.
• Jurors said they were divided on counts involving a "specific act."
• Jurors say they've gone beyond "reasonable attempts" to come together.
• Jurors said in their note: "they've tried as hard as they can and they can't go any farther," according to one defense lawyer.
• It was unclear the number of counts they couldn't decide on.
• Judge James Zagel can tell jurors to go back and keep trying. But he went out of his way Wednesday to note he believes the jury already has been working hard to reach a conclusion.
"The jury in my view is exceptionally disciplined ... I think they're very diligent."

Blagojevich jury: The note

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Due to multiple requests, here's a separate post with the wording on the portion of the note from Rod Blagojevich jurors. U.S. District Judge James Zagel didn't make the entire note public, he only read one section of it:

"In a situation where jurors cannot agree on given counts what should the next logical step be? We have gone beyond reasonable attempts without rancor. We now ask for guidance."

Zagel replied by saying he needed more information on where they stood in their deliberations. He also told them they don't have to be unanimous on every count. A partial verdict is a possibility.

Separately, one defense lawyer said that jurors also indicated they couldn't reach a conclusion on counts involving a "specific act."

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch


Rod Blagojevich has left the Dirksen Federal Building after learning that the jury in his federal corruption trial may be deadlocked on some or all of the counts against him.

The ex-governor kept unusually hush-hush as he left the building, walking past a huge crowd of media without saying a word. He did pause briefly outside to shake hands with well-wishers.

"Thank you," Blagojevich waved as he got in his car.

A few paces behind, Blagojevich's lawyer Sam Adam Sr. was asked, "Did you understand that note?"

"No, of course not," he said.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch


A lawyer said jurors indicated in their note that they are hopelessly deadlocked on every count that involves a specific act.

Lawyers are now scratching their heads, trying to figure out what that means, attorney Michael Ettinger said in a press conference at around 4:50 p.m.

The jury might be saying they cannot reach a verdict on the racketeering charges, Ettinger speculated. That's a lengthy and complicated charge that is divided into six separate "acts." He said if they couldn't reach an agreement on any count involving a specific act, that would technically involve just about every count in the indictment except for the false statement charges.

Attorneys saw the entire note sent out by the jury earlier today; only portions were read in court a little while ago. Judge James Zagel has responded in writing, asking the jury for clarification.

Ettinger responded with "I don't know" over and over again when asked if he thinks the jury's note meant they were deadlocked on every count or just some.

"I assume they're hung on my client, but I don't know," he said.

Meanwhile, the jury has gone home for the day. Lawyers will be back in court at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Jurors told Judge James Zagel in a note that they have been unable to reach a unanimous decision on some or all counts and asked for guidance on how to proceed.

Zagel read the note aloud in court with a nervous-looking Rod Blagojevich looking on. The jury was not in the courtroom.

"In a situation where jurors cannot agree on a unanimous decision on given counts ... what should the next logical step be?" the note said. "We have gone beyond reasonable attempts" to reach a unanimous decision and "now ask for guidance."

Zagel said he was unclear on whether the jury had been able to reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts, and wanted to respond in writing asking them for clarification.

He proposed responding with a note saying, in part, "You should determine if you can reach a verdict on some of the counts."

The note asks them which counts, if any, the jury has been able to agree on, and also explains that it's "permissible" for them to submit a unanimous decision on some counts and be deadlocked on others.

The prosecution and defense agreed.

"We're fine with that," one of the prosecutors said.

"No objection," the Blagojeviches' lawyers said.

"I'll give this to the jury and we'll see what happens," the judge said.

Zagel closed by praising the jurors as "exceptionally disciplined" and said the jury room has been quiet throughout their 11 days of deliberating.

"If there is shouting or loud voices, you can tell. There has been none of this in this case.
The jury is, at least from my point of view, exceptionally disciplined," the judge said.

"I think on one occasion, a juror called in saying they would be late. In fact, they weren't late," he continued.

The jury had planned to go home for the night, Zagel told the court, so they will likely not be able to respond until Thursday morning.

Rod Blagojevich appeared straight-faced in the courtroom, keeping his hands folded in front of him. After court, he smiled faintly and shook hands with his lawyer and clapped him on the back.

Rod and Patti Blagojevich arrive in court

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch


Rod and Patti Blagojevich have just arrived at the federal courthouse, along with Patti's brother, Rich. The ex-governor was all smiles as he walked in, but when reporters asked how he was feeling, he gave a one-word answer: "Butterflies."

Upstairs on the 25th floor, the media is still cordoned off in the hall outside the courtroom.

"Missed you guys," Rod said as he walked past them.

About 15 minutes later, at about 4:05, Robert Blagojevich and his wife, Julie, have arrived. Sound is up and running in the overflow courtroom, and the judge is entering the courtroom.

There's a heavy tension in the courtroom. Rod looks nervous. He's fiddling with something, fixing his hair. Patti appears exhausted, showing deep circles under her eyes.

Robert and his attorney appear more relaxed, though Robert just let out a big sigh.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki


Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, are expected to arrive at the Dirksen Federal Building shortly. Barricades have been put up on Dearborn Street and reporters and camera crews are slowly gathering outside.

It's an unexpected development in what seemed at first to be -- and which could still turn out to be -- a simple court hearing about a jury question.

But the fact that the defendants were asked to show up does raise some eyebrows. Court personnel has not said anything about a verdict -- they normally do, when one is reached.

If the jury reveals that it is deadlocked, Judge James Zagel will likely tell them to keep deliberating and do their best to come up with a verdict.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

A crowd of reporters has gathered on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building, awaiting a 2:30 public hearing about a jury question.

But in the meantime, something a bit out of the ordinary -- attorneys are having a closed-door conference with Judge James Zagel. They were told to meet him in the courtroom at 2 p.m.

We don't know if they're privately discussing the jury's question before it is made public in open court, or if they're talking about something else entirely. But it certainly has the media abuzz with the possibilities.



Jurors in Rod Blagojevich's case have communicated with the judge for the first time in more than a week, saying they have a question, according to lawyers in the case.

Attorneys were told to be at the courthouse this afternoon and were not told that their clients must also attend.

The question comes on Day 11 of deliberations and eight days after the 12-member panel last communicated with the judge in the case.

The last communication from jurors came on July 30th when they asked for all the trial's testimony.

Judge James Zagel denied that request but told the panel he would be open to handing out the testimony of specific witnesses.

*** Since our first post, the clerk's office issued an alert saying there is a 2:30 p.m. hearing in the case.

Lawyers say the note from jurors is a question and not a verdict.

Rod Blagojevich's jury is back in -- Day 11

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Yes, the jurors deciding Rod Blagojevich's are back today. No, they haven't given any sign of where they stand now that they are starting Day 11 of their deliberations.

Jurors in the trial of former Gov. George Ryan deliberated for 11 days -- but that was after they were reconstituted (two jurors were kicked off and they started over). And it was after sitting through a six-month trial.

In a news availability yesterday, Sam Adam Jr. noted that jurors in this case have been out just as long and the trial ran only 29 days.

"That's pretty cool," Adam Jr. said yesterday.

Here's today's story about the defense wishing jurors had heard from Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.: Click here
http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/blagojevich/2586760,CST-NWS-blago11.article

Reporting with Natasha Korecki


Another day's gone by without a word from the jury.

They'll be back tomorrow for day 11.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman

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An attorney for the brother of Rod Blagojevich said he regrets that jurors who are now in their 10th day of deliberations never heard testimony from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill).

Michael Ettinger, attorney for Robert Blagojevich, gave an emphatic "yes" when asked if he regretted that Jackson didn't take the stand.

"I don't know if I can at this point go into it. But it would have shown, you know, you've got the Jesse Jr. alleged bribery extortion. You've seen one side of it that I believe the evidence shows really didn't occur. I believe the jury would have seen the other side of Jesse and the Indians if Jesse would have testified," Ettinger said.

"What was the other side?" reporters asked.

"That's what I can't get into," Ettinger said.

Jackson was subpoenaed by Rod Blagojevich's attorneys. Rod and Robert Blagojevich are accused of attempting to go through Indian fund-raiser Raghu Nayak to extract a campaign contribution from Jackson. Robert Blagojevich testified that Nayak in October of 2008 approached him offering $6 million in fund-raising for his brother if the then-governor named Jackson to the Senate seat.

Robert Blagojevich testified he shut down the offer. Months later though, Rod Blagojevich tells his brother in a recorded phone call he wants to "elevate" Jackson and asks his brother to meet with Nayak and to talk about "tangible" support up front. His brother sets up a meeting with Nayak but testifies he never intended on making any quid pro quo offer.

"We were counting on Jesse Jr. being called," Ettinger said. "Depending on what he said, I would have called Nayak."

Ettinger said the ex-governor's decision not to testify and to call no witnesses took him by surprise.

"There's another story to be told between Jesse Jr. and the Indians that I can't get into," Ettinger said. He could have called Jackson himself, he acknowledged.

"Because my client never met with him (Jackson) and Rod did. I didn't think that I should get into that," Ettinger said.

The decision to rest their case without calling a witness -- or Rod Blagojevich came as a surprise to the ex-governor's brother, Ettinger said. Rod Blagojevich, as well as his lawyers said it was a difficult call for them but in the end they believed it was the right thing to do in the case.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki


The Blagojevich jury is still deliberating quietly and has made no requests, Judge James Zagel told a full courtroom this morning.

Attorneys and reporters congregated as usual for a 10:30 a.m. status hearing on the 25th floor. Most mornings, we've been sent away without ever entering the courtroom. But this morning, the judge brought everyone inside to formally say that ... there is nothing to say.

"We are all exactly in the same position," Zagel said. "We are all waiting."

Today marks day 10 of the jury's deliberations.

You might have to help Blagojevich pay legal bills

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Today, we examine the possibility that taxpayers may end up picking up the remaining
tab on Rod Blagojevich's legal bills.

There is only $75,000 left in the $2.8 million kitty and his defense team hasn't yet billed for the month of July -- arguably the most intense month for the defense since the 2009 indictment.

During his trial, Rod Blagojevich's finances were summed up to jurors by his own lawyer:
"He's broke, man, BROKE! When I say broke, I mean BROKE!" Sam Adam Jr. screamed in his closing argument.
Perhaps he knows best.

The former governor's campaign fund, which is paying his lawyers, has dwindled to its last dollars, opening the door to tap into taxpayer money.

Read today's article: Click here

Blagojevich trial: Onto day 10

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki


The Blagojevich jury has gone through another day without so much as a peep from the 25th floor.

They've left for the day, and will be back tomorrow morning for day 10.

IMG00527-20100809-1621.jpg

His name is Jerry Kroll and he bears a striking resemblance to a certain former governor.

He flew to Chicago for kicks this week and this afternoon walked into the sights of a bored media throng as we await Rod Blagojevich's jury.

Kroll is an actor -- and says he's also a civil attorney -- from Santa Barbara. He first realized his look-alike was one Rod Blagojevich while in his car, waiting at a stop sign in California.

A passerby kept gawking at him. Then gave him the finger. That was right around the time Rod Blagojevich was arrested in December of 2008, he says.

"That seemed odd to me," he said of the incident.

He later realized that more and more people were mistaking him for Blagojevich.

Kroll and his girlfriend got cheap tickets on Priceline and headed to Chicago.

"I've developed this warm spot for him," Kroll says of Blagojevich. "I feel his pain."

He insists he didn't manipulate his hair -- it's always looked like this.

The press here gave him the full treatment, telling him to enter the media pit at the lobby then shoved cameras and mics in his face.

We did this as a deputy U.S. Marshal looked on disapprovingly.

Kroll said he also works as a lawyer and has waited out his share of juries.

"Wouldn't it be cool if you could represent him?" One reporter asked to much laughter.

Kroll said he's appeared in two "Lifetime" movies and in a Showtime movie.

Here's his Web site: Click here.


Jury's back in -- Day 9

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Jurors deciding the fate of Rod and Robert Blagojevich are back at it his morning, beginning day 9 of their deliberations.

Lawyers gathered for a 10:30 a.m. court status but Judge James Zagel's staff said there was no business this morning.

That means the panel of six men and six women hasn't sent any additional notes to the judge asking for guidance.

On July 30, they asked Zagel for all the transcript testimony. He denied the request but said he may give them specific witnesses.

Jurors haven't followed up.

Jury's gone -- deliberations move to next week

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman

Jurors in Rod Blagojevich's case have left for the weekend, working just half the day as promised.

They'll be back on Monday to begin day nine.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Blagojevich trial: Jury deliberating -- day 8

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Jurors are back for day 8 of deliberations. Other than a brief sighting of a few of them in the private jury elevator -- going down for a smoke break, perhaps -- it's been quiet.

Attorneys and reporters gathered for a 10:30 status hearing this morning, but there was no business to take care of.

We expect the jury to wrap up around 12:30 today and return on Monday.

Blagojevich trial: Onto Day 8 of jury deliberations

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The Blagojevich jury has again slipped out of the Dirksen Federal Building, ending their seventh day of deliberations. Still no sign that a verdict is in sight.

We're told jurors plan to get an early start tomorrow morning, fitting in an extra hour or so before they break early at 12:30.

Reporting with Sarah Ostman


It appears jurors in Rod Blagojevich's case still have much deliberating to do.

The panel asked to meet for just a half a day tomorrow -- until 12:30 p.m. -- before going home for the weekend, people with knowledge of the request said.

One all-about-business juror, who wore dress shirts and pants every day in court during the trial, was seen wearing khaki shorts today.

The entire panel was dressed fairly casually today, according to one observer.

That's, of course, reading the tea leaves and assuming that jurors who are ready to return a verdict in a high profile case will dress as they did during trial.

The Blagojevich panel has been a stealth group who has received assistance by security in covertly entering and leaving the Dirksen Federal Courthouse every day.

Sightings have been rare as U.S. District Judge James Zagel is not announcing when the six men and six women begin and end deliberations each day.

Zagel had previously ruled to keep the identities of the jurors secret until after a verdict is reached.

The panel began its seventh day of talks this morning.

They are considering evidence in 24 counts against the former governor and four counts against Robert Blagojevich.

Blagojevich jury -- Day 7. They're back and deliberating

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman


Jurors deciding Rod Blagojevich's case were back at work this morning, beginning day seven of their deliberations.

The judge's clerk said there was no business to be had in court today. That means, no notes to report.

Stay tuned.

Blagojevich trial: Jury heads home at end of day 6

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

No word from the jury today -- they've headed home for the day, wrapping up their sixth day of deliberation. They'll be back in the morning.


The complicated case against Rod Blagojevich involves 24 counts and various alleged schemes -- from the selling the U.S. Senate seat, to holding up funding to a children's hospital.

As jurors seem poised to begin day seven of their deliberations Thursday, here's some of the evidence they are considering in each of the allegations.

Click here to read today's story.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

The courtroom was packed this morning for a 10:30 hearing with attorneys -- but if the crowd was expecting a bombshell, they left disappointed.

In a speedy, five-minute meeting, Judge James Zagel and attorneys hashed out plans for forfeiture -- a final hurdle the jury may need to clear if they convict Rod Blagojevich.

If jurors convict Blagojevich of racketeering, the government will then move to seize the former governor's Ravenswood Manor home and the former first couple's Washington D.C. condo.

Prosecutor Reid Schar said the government would present about 10 minutes of testimony for the forfeiture proceedings, and would show the jury evidence about the Blagojevich's bank account balances.

The defense said it would not present evidence.

Zagel said he would wait to decide whether the forfeiture hearing would take place immediately after the verdict is announced or whether it would wait until the next day. It will depend on what time of day the verdict comes in, he said -- and how tired the jury looks.

"You can usually tell from looking at a jury how exhausted they are or how fresh they are," the judge said.

Meanwhile, there's no word from the jury as they trudge through Deliberation Day Six.

Rod Blagojevich jurors: And ... we move on to day 6

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Rod Blagojevich jurors have left the building.

They've concluded their fifth day of deliberations once again without sending a note.

They're expected to return Wednesday to continue their talks.

Blagojevich lawyers summoned to court tomorrow 10:30

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman


The clerk of court has sent out a note saying that lawyers in Rod Blagojevich's case are to meet at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

One lawyer in the case said attorneys will discuss jury instructions on forfeiture and the official court docket also reflects that.

If Rod Blagojevich is found guilty, the government wants to seize his home and the couple's condo in Washington D.C.

They work to do that in a separate proceeding called forfeiture -- or what a defendant should have to financially hand over to the government because of his alleged crimes.

It is a matter that jurors would be asked to discuss after they deliver a verdict -- should they reach one.

Jurors, meanwhile, appear to be headed to their sixth day of deliberation on Wednesday after not making a peep today.

Whether Rod Blagojevich is innocent or guilty is a gamble -- literally.

Bettors and bookies are hedging their bets on whether the ex-governor will be toted off to prison.

And with the jury heading into its fifth day of deliberations today, the gamblers' numbers don't look good for Blagojevich.

Intrade, an Ireland-based online predictions market, forecasted an 82 percent chance Monday that Blagojevich would be convicted.

To read the whole story, click here.

Blagojevich trial: Day 5 of deliberations begins

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The jury is back for a fifth day of deliberations.

There was no business to discuss at this morning's check-in, so again, attorneys and reporters were sent away.

Jurors gone for the day

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Day four of deliberations has come and gone without a peep from the jury in Rod Blagojevich's case.

The 12-member jury has left for the day.

We'll be back on Tuesday.

The Blagojevich jury is back for their fourth day of deliberations on the 25th floor of the Dirksen Federal Building.

Shortly after jurors gathered in the jury room -- which is separated from the rest of the building by a frosted-glass, locked set of double doors -- the attorneys and several dozen reporters gathered outside the courtroom for the trial's daily 9:30 hearing.

But the courtroom was dark inside and the doors were locked. A half-hour later, that was still the case.

Finally, Judge James Zagel's deputy announced in the hall that there was no business to conduct, and lawyers and media alike were free to go.

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