The legal team for convicted powerbroker William Cellini wants their client's guilty verdicts thrown out and a mistrial declared after a member of the jury apparently didn't disclose two felony convictions.
Attorney Dan Webb said Friday he will ask in a motion for mistrial that the two “not guilty” verdicts stand and the two “guilty” verdicts be vacated on the basis that the jury had an “illegal composition.”
Jurors this month found clout-heavy millionaire William Cellini guilty of conspiracy to commit extortion and aiding and abetting bribery.
In a split verdict, the jury of 10 women and two men found Cellini not guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempted extortion. Jurors reached the verdict after little more than two days of deliberation.
But one of the jurors reportedly didn't disclose everything about her past. The juror previously was convicted of crack-cocaine possession in February 2000 and aggravated driving under the influence without a license in August 2008, according to records pulled by the Chicago Tribune.
The U.S. District Court’s office said in a statement to the Sun-Times the female juror wrote "DUI" on a pre-trial questionnaire asking whether she had been arrested or convicted of a crime. But during jury selection, she said she was referring to a relative’s criminal conviction, not her own.
Randall Samborn, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, disputed claims that federal law disqualifies felons from serving on juries.
"Federal law disqualifies persons who have been convicted of felonies from serving on juries only so long as their ‘civil rights have not been restored,’" Samborn said in a statement. "Under Illinois law, civil rights are automatically restored upon the ‘completion of any sentence of imprisonment or upon discharge from probation, conditional discharge or periodic imprisonment.’ Thus, a person who has completed his or her sentence on a felony conviction is not disqualified from serving on a federal jury."
Webb said Friday the juror in question had “multiple felony convictions and gave wrong answers [on her jury questionnaire] three times.”
“There is no question if somebody lies three times to get on a jury, she has a bias,” Webb said.
Cellini was accused of conspiring with three other men to shake down the producer of "Million Dollar Baby" for a $1.5 million campaign contribution to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.