Ward Room
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Spectators Weigh in on Blago Trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    May 25, 2011: James Matsumoto, the jury foreman from Rod Blagojevich's first trial, opines about Jesse Jackson Jr.'s testimony and whether the former governor should take the stand.

    They arrived before 6 a.m. Wednesday to get a seat inside the courtroom during Rod Blagojevich's retrial on a day when high drama was all but guaranteed.

    Many of them sat through the trial last summer and although they've heard much of the case before, they've been waiting to see if the defense would present a case.

    Although he piqued the interest of the courtroom spectators, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on and off the witness stand within five minutes. Observer Brent Hoffmann said the mayor was "crisp and precise, to the point."

    The prosecution didn't even bother to question Emanuel.

    The foreman from the first trial, James Matsumoto, returned to the federal courthouse to listen. He took note of Wednesday's testimony from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. when the congressman suggested he couldn't get his wife a job in the Blagojevich administration because he didn't give the governor a $25,000 contribution.

    "That may hurt, I don't think they expected that," said Matsumoto.

    Courtroom spectator Sid Miller agreed, and said Blagojevich's defense team was wrong if they thought putting Jackson on the stand would help.

    "It didn't work out that way" says Miller.

    The big courtroom draw, however, will be Blagojevich himself.  That is, if he testifies as expected.

    "It's risky from his standpoint, but if he's got a story to tell, this is the time to do it," said Miller.

    Hoffman added: "I'd like to hear him testify, but I understand it's probably not a good idea to do it."

    The former governor never lost an election -- from state representative to a run for Congress to his two campaigns for governor.  The question now, though, is how he'll do with a jury of his peers.