CHICAGO - AUGUST 17: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich speaks to the press following a verdict at his corruption trial August 17, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Blagojevich was found guilty on one charge of giving a false statement to federal agents. The jury was hung and was unable to reach a verdict on 23 of the 24 counts. The government plans to retry him. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Rod Blagojevich
JoAnn Chiakulas, the female juror who saved Rod Blagojevich's hide when she voted against 11 other jurors not to convict on charges he tried to sell the senate seat, says she "didn't do it for him."
In her first interview since the trial ended, Chiakulas tells the Chicago Tribune she did what she felt was right, even if it wasn't the most comfortable thing to do.
"I can't explain how badly I felt," she said to the Tribune. "I didn't sleep at night. I thought about it on the train. I wanted to make sure my reasonable doubt was reasonable."
Despite speculation that her former career as a state worker and her late-husband's one-time donation to Rod Blagojevich's campaign played a role in her decision, Chiakulas makes clear that she was no fan of the former governor.
Chiakulas thought he talked too much and "wasn't impressed with his shenanigans" and believed him to be "narcissistic." But in the end she saw a man filled with unfocused ideas and a Swiss cheese brain. Chiakulas said she didn't believe Blagojevich actually had a plan to sell the senate seat that was once filled by President Barack Obama.
On the tapes he could be heard discussing an ambassadorship to India one day and directly after he fantasized about appointing Oprah Winfrey to the seat. While other jurors saw that as a sign of guilt, she saw shades of gray.
"I could never live with myself if I went along with the rest of the jury," Chiakulas said during the Tribune interview. "I didn't believe it was the correct vote for me."
Her stance didn't make her popular in the jury room, she said. People yelled at her, told her she was being illogical and belittled her. One juror switched seats so he could stare her down while she spoke. Another asked for a copy of the jurors oath, a backhanded way of saying she wasn't doing her job.
But she stuck to her beliefs, and in the end, after Rod Blagojevich was convicted on just one count, her fellow jurors say she did her job and they have no hard feelings.