Ward Room
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Did Judge Zagel Want Blagojevich Convicted?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The former jury foreman from the first trial said during a class room talk that some jurors thought Zagel acted unfairly toward the defense. (Published Wednesday, Jul 13, 2011)

    On numerous occasions, former Governor Rod Blagojevich praised the wisdom of Judge James Zagel. But did Zagel have a bias against Blagojevich?

    The jury foreman from the first trial, James Matsumoto thinks that might be the case.

    “During deliberation it came out that they, a few of the jurors, did not like the way that the judge treated the defense attorneys,” Matsumoto said Tuesday night in a session at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.

    Zagel’s rulings were a source of frustration for the defense attorneys throughout the second trial as well. During Blagojevich’s testimony Zagel had little patience for the ramblings of the former governor, sustaining many of the prosecution’s objections.

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    Juror Jessica Hubinek says she believes she and her colleagues did an "excellent" job analyzing the data before reaching their decision. (Published Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011)

    One of the objections sustained by Zagel was against a request to play tapes of Rahm Emanuel asking Blagojevich for a favor. The defense attorneys had claimed on many occasions that if they had been able to play all the tapes they wanted they would have enough evidence to acquit the former governor.

    A possible appeal for Blagojevich could include a challenge to Zagel's behavior in regards to objections of the prosecution and the impact they had on granting a fair trial.

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    Juror Rosemary Bennett had a big problem with how the former governor's testimony jumped from topic to topic. And while she concedes that Rod Blagojevich is "likeable," he was also manipulative. (Published Tuesday, Jun 28, 2011)

    Matsumoto did not, however believe that Zagel wanted to see Blagojevich convicted. He said that if the defense attorneys were doing something wrong and the judge sustained the objection, it was not because of any personal bias. 

    Matsumoto also clarified that the opinions of the jury on Judge Zagel’s actions had no impact on the decision of the jury which convicted Blagojevich on one count of the 24 he was charged with.