Jury Selection Resumes in Blago Retrial - NBC Chicago
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Jury Selection Resumes in Blago Retrial



    Can Judge James Zagel get a retrial jury sat by Wednesday?

    That's the goal, Zagel said last week.

    As of Thursday, the judge presiding over Rod Blagojevich's second corruption trial is well on his way. Twenty-two potential jurors were questioned by the end of Day 2, though several were dismissed because of bias toward the impeached Illinois governor.

    One potential juror said he was disappointed that Blagojevich didn't take the stand in his last trial after repeatedly stating he would. He said it would be on his mind if the trial concluded again without the former governor speaking.

    Court was not in session on Friday, and jury selection continues Monday.

    During Blagojevich's first trial, selection took weeks because of fighting among attorneys on both sides. This time around, Zagel wants to bypass all that and even hear opening statements this week.

    Blagojevich was convicted last year of lying to the FBI. He still faces 20 counts, including trying to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

    Over the weekend, Blagojevich's lawyers asked the judge to bar testimony about the former governor's seemingly lavish clothing budget.

    In the first Blagojevich trial, IRS agent Shari Schindler testified that Blagojevich and his wife had spent in excess of $400,000 on clothing. Among the purchases, more than $200,000 with the tailor Tom James Oxxford, including a $20,000 purchase on a single day.

    "There was no impropriety whatsoever surrounding these purchases," the attorneys wrote in a motion filed Friday night. "The fact that Blagojevich did not spend his money wisely or frugally is of no consequence to the government's allegations that he schemed to obtain campaign contributions."

    Blagojevich also asked the judge through his lawyers to limit testimony about his efforts to obtain a job for his wife Patti, and allegations that he sought the dismissal of members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board in exchange for state help in renovations at Wrigley Field.