Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Blago Jury Watch
UPDATE: Amid confusion on all sides and among the media covering today's trial, the jury retired for the day. There seems to be confusion on the jury's question concerning its inability to reach unanimous verdicts on the counts involving "acts." There are 24 counts against the defendants according to the jury verdict form. Count I of the verdict form may be what is causing difficulty for the jury. It covers a number of specific acts in furtherance of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering charges against the defendants. The RICO charges are broken down into 6 specific acts related to pension debt obligations, awarding of a Chicago school grant, Chicago's Children Memorial Hospital expansion, a racetrack executive shakedown, a highway contractor shakedown and the selling of Obama's Senate seat. Under each of those specific acts, the jury is asked to find whether the defendants conspired to commit acts amounting to extortion, bribery or wire fraud. Count I requires the jury to make 24 separate findings, in addition to the defendant's guilt or innocence on the individual count. The remaining 23 counts involve charges of wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit bribery and making false statements to the government. It could be that only Count I is posing problems for the jury. If that is the case, it doesn't sound like very good news for the Blagojevich brothers.