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Zagel Calls Blago Motion 'Harebrained'

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Zagel Calls Blago Motion 'Harebrained'

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Lawyers for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich returned to court Monday morning to ask Judge James Zagel to investigate whether the foreman of Blagojevich's jury violated court rules by retaining a copy of her jury questionnaire and displaying it to a group of high school students.

If it is found that foreperson Connie Wilson did break Zagel's rules on confidentiality, the lawyers argue that Blagojevich deserves a new trial. Blagojevich was sentenced this month to 14 years in prison for corruption.

Zagel wasn't having it, calling the motion "harebrained."

The Blagojevich legal team based their complaint on recent press reports regarding a speaking engagement Wilson made before a group of students at Metea High School in Aurora. Reports indicate Wilson brought with her a courtroom sketch of "Mr. Blagojevich, her jury summons and questionnaire," attorneys said.

While Zagel has refused to release the jurors' questionnaires, it is difficult to see how Blagojevich and his legal team can demonstrate that Wilson's appearance before a group of high school students, months after the trial, adversely impacted the former governor. 

They note that the questionnaire itself states, "You are not to discuss this case or questionnaire with anyone." But it is generally accepted that the admonition refers to juror conduct before and during the trial.

Indeed, many of the jurors have made appearances since the trial's conclusion this summer, and several, including Wilson, appeared at Blagojevich's sentencing and spoke to reporters after the hearing. Zagel himself made provisions for the former jurors at the sentencing.

Zagel last week granted a request from Blagojevich's attorneys to extend the former governor's prison reporting date by 30 days. His new date is March 15.
 

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