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

"Sneeze juror" says #Blagojevich judge seemed pro-prosecution

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After weeks in the courtroom and 10 days of deliberations, Kim Spaetti, one of the jurors who voted Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 counts against him, said Wednesday U.S. District Judge James Zagel "seemed like he was very much for the government."

"It did seem that he was pro-prosecution," said Spaetti, 31, of Winthrop Harbor, who works at a fruit company. Zagel's perceived bias didn't factor into the jury's deliberations, she said. "None of us were legal experts. We didn't know why they [prosecutors] were objecting so much. We tried not to speculate on why."

Much of the questioning by Blagojevich's defense team was objected to by prosecutors and ultimately blocked by Zagel, in attempts to keep out facts the judge had already ruled couldn't be part of the trial.

Blagojevich's antics on the stand included saying "God bless you" every time a juror sneezed. Turns out Spaetti was the sneeziest juror in the box.

"Yes, I was the sneeze juror," she said, sighing. "He blessed me, god, three or four times. I was the butt of the jokes every time we got back in the jury room. What can you do? He's a funny guy."

Spaetti also said the ex-gov's personal testimony was excessive.

"The whole first day, I really thought it was a waste of our time. I don't think we needed the rags-to-riches story," Spaetti said. "I don't think it pertained to the trial."

Blagojevich spent his first day on the stand talking personal history, including a "man-crush" on Alexander Hamilton, his days wearing polyester as a student at Northwestern University and his first date with wife Patti.

Meanwhile, she said some of the defense's decisions left her puzzled or, in the case of Jesse Jackson Jr., saying, "Oh my god" in shock.

"He humiliated him," Spaetti said.

For all of Blagojevich's time on the stand defending himself -- and in spite of what jurors said seemed like testimony directed toward them -- Spaetti said she had little trouble finding Blagojevich guilty.

"It really wasn't difficult for me. I went in there really headstrong," she said.

She said it could be difficult balancing that with opinions of others in the jury room during the nine substantive days of deliberations before the jury finally announced its verdict: Blagojevich was guilty on 17 of 20 counts and not guilty on one. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on two of the counts.

Maribel DeLeon, another juror on the trial, told reporters she was hoping to find Blagjevich not guilty -- but the evidence pointed in a different direction.

"I'd come in thinking, 'OK, he's not guilty,' and then all of a sudden I'm like, 'Gosh darn you, Rod! You did it again!' I mean, he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty," said DeLeon, a mother of three.

For Spaetti, that could be frustrating.

"There were a couple jurors who would frequently would look on the defense side," she said, and other jurors had to constantly remind them to look at the evidence. "Yes, we see Patti in the courtroom crying and he brought his daughter in one day, but you're there to do a job and people are counting on you to put that aside."

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4 Comments

judges always doing everything possible to help the prosecution this time around.Prrhaps it may be solved....

Until recently the only charges against Blago I was really aware of were the charges involving Obama's Senate seat, so I was somewhat sympathetic to him. Then I found out that he had attempted to extort campaign contributions from a Children's Hospital. Stealing money from sick children!!! What a sleazeball. I hope he rots in prison.

Dear Patty Blago Farley:
Rod just did not cross the road. He thought he owned the road. He thought this road was his personal toll road!

Duh? This juror admitted that she didn't take important factors into consideration. I would have questions the judges bias? A big, legitimate, WHY? Jesse Jackson Jr. obviously had a political ax to grind.
Still, not one juror has detailed how or when Road actually crossed the line.
As I've written before, this was a bone-chilling jury that seemed totally void of empathy or any emotion. Quite possible that many were on anti-depressants. Something not right. Could be that many, including "Church Lady,"could be the 1st wave of daycare babies that have come to fruition.
God help us all, if this is what we, as a society, has atrophied to.

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on June 29, 2011 2:59 PM.

#Blagojevich prison time will take toll on his young kids was the previous entry in this blog.

Patrick Fitzgerald talks #Blagojevich with lawyer group Thursday is the next entry in this blog.

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