Government Has Advantage in Retrial: Former Prosecutor - NBC Chicago
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Government Has Advantage in Retrial: Former Prosecutor



    Former federal prosecutor John Gallo explains what the government can do differently in retrying former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010)

    While it's now understood that jurors were close to convicting former Gov. Rod Blagojevich on several more serious charges, Tuesday's verdict was still a resounding defeat for the prosecution.

    But within moments of Judge James Zagel declaring a mistrial in 23 counts, the government said it was immediately entering retrial mode.  And barring any changes to charges, former federal prosecutor John Gallo said Wednesday the government has the advantage.

    "The adage is that the government has more of an advantage in a retrial than a criminal defense attorney or defendent has,"  he said.  "It has the benefit of essentially a preview before the second time around of having seen the entire defense the first time around."

    The prosecution can also learn from what jurors are saying about the first trial.

    Juror Ralph Schindler said Wednesday that he could have used a better roadmap to the charges.

    "I found it very difficult in their summation to keep up with what I thought was a very well-organized summation.  It might have helped a lot but I couldn't write notes as fast as he was going through his powerpoint," he said Wednesday.

    Just one holdout juror stood in the way of convicting the former governor for attempting to sell Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.  Those counts made up nine of the wire fraud counts.

    That so many jurors were convinced of Blagojevich's guilt bodes well for prosecutors, said Joel Levin, a former federal prosecutor
    in Chicago who won a conviction of former Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges.

    "At the end of the day it signals very strongly they will get a conviction next time," Levin said. "It sounds like the case was
    lost in jury selection."