Jury selections began on Wednesday for the second trial of impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blago continues to maintain his innocence in the face of 20 counts of corruption charges.
On the day opening arguments are set to begin, lawyers representing Rod Blagojevich in his corruption retrial have asked that the the entire jury panel be thrown out.
"The entire panel of jurors is tainted," the motion says.
They specifically reference one jury candidate, number 101, who was interviewed by WBBM radio after being excused. That woman, a promotions manager from US99 radio, said other jurors were openly discussing the case.
"Sitting in the room with other potential jurors, they all had a very strong opinion on him," that woman said. "So many people would walk in there after their (jury) interview, and say, 'Oh he's guilty already'."
That, lawyers say, violates the jurors main responsibility to remain quiet.
"Jurors in this pool directly contradicted the court's orders," the lawyers wrote. "Exacerbating the problem was the deliberate and unwarranted dismissal of the only two jurors who used the word 'innocent' on their questionnaires."
Attorneys have been unhappy with the process that selected 40 potential jurors for a number of for other reasons, too. Last week they took issue with the number of black jurors fielded, and objected to the dismissal of juror No. 178.
Juror No. 178 was a somewhat forlorn man, on disability, who said he spends most days watching reruns of old TV shows like the Beverly Hillbillies. He lives in his uncle's house, and admitted he was once arrested for burglarizing a boxcar. He also confessed he once stabbed his own brother, but said it was in self defense.
The government wanted him out. Prosecutor Reid Schar argued the man hid things on his jury questionairre, that he was financially unstable, that he seemed extremely nervous, and may be someone who could not get along with the other jurors.
Defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky vehemently objected. He said Schar was opposing No. 178 because he "would not be in a Norman Rockwell painting."
Judge James Zagel said he had hoped to work through all juror challenges early Monday and listen to opening statements before recess.