Lawyers representing William Cellini continue to lose battles over blocking jurors who have a strong distaste for government lobbyists and fund-raisers.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel has denied multiple requests by defense lawyer Dan Webb to strike people for cause who have said they don't trust lobbyists. It's happening as we inch our way toward getting a full jury in the Cellini case. It is still possible that opening statements begin before day's end.
Today, Webb made a bid to remove from the jury pool, an individual who said in his jury questionnaire that lobbyists or fund-raisers who give lots of money to politicians usually turn out to be corrupt.
Zagel said he wouldn't bounce the juror. That significant campaign contributions were tied to corruption is "regarded as a historically true statement," he said.
That same potential juror also said he had listened to a speech given by a juror in the trial of Rod Blagojevich. Webb said that shows the person was seeking out information on related cases.
But Zagel said he didn't believe it was an issue. Cellini's name did not come up in Blagojevich's trial, he said, and he doubted that the juror made mention of Cellini in the speech.
The defense will still have an opportunity to use one of their own 10 strikes to remove those they don't want on the jury.
Cellini has for decades acted as a major fund-raiser for various governors. He's accused of trying to extort Hollywood Producer Thomas Rosenberg by asking him to pony up to Blagojevich's political fund as Rosenberg's firm sought state business.