Judge Denies Request for New Blago Trial - NBC Chicago
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Judge Denies Request for New Blago Trial



    Connie Wilson discusses the classroom presentation that led Blagojevich jurors to ask for a new trial. (Published Monday, Dec. 19, 2011)

    That was fast.

    Judge James Zagel on Monday quickly denied a request to consider a new trial for Rod Blagojevich.

    The motion filed by Blagojevich's attorneys hinged on the possibility jury forewoman Connie Wilson violated court rules by retaining a copy of her jury questionnaire and showing it to high school students. They said if Wilson did break Zagel's rules on confidentiality, Blagojevich deserves a new trial.

    Zagel called the idea "harebrained" and told the attorneys they drew "entirely inappropriate analogies." He said Wilson's actions came at a time when the juror was excused and that he never told her the questionnaires had to be kept confidential.

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    "How you could have lawfully concluded that a juror is restrained from revealing these things is just beyond my imagination," Zagel said during a 10 a.m. hearing, even recommending attorney Lauren Kaeseberg submit a written apology to Wilson.

    "This motion was prepared without adequate thought," he said.

    Zagel instructed Blagojevich's attorneys to show why he shouldn't sanction the attorney who wrote the motion, noting the request smacks of retaliation against Zagel's sentence. The judge said he wants a written explanation that the motion was in good faith.

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    After the hearing Kaeseberg said the motion was filed in good faith.

    "We believe in the motion," Kaeseberg said. "We still believe we were entitled to a hearing."

    Defense Attorney Aaron Goldstein said they asked for truth and didn't get it.

    "It's not necessarily an issue of harm," Goldstein said, "it's an issue of whether the rules were followed. ... What if she had obtained it during the trial, when she was specifically told she was not allowed to? We just don't know!"

    Goldstein said they plan to appeal Blago's conviction and said the attorneys are "talking it over" whether they'll issue Wilson an apology.

    Wilson's husband was in the courtroom for the hearing but denied comment. Wilson stayed home.

    Blagojevich was sentenced this month to 14 years in prison for corruption. Zagel last week granted a request from Blagojevich's attorneys to extend the former governor's prison reporting date by 30 days. His new date is March 15.