Defense attorneys for convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich are asking a federal judge for an emergency hearing to find out if the jury foreperson broke court rules and improperly has a copy of her own questionnaire.
If so, Blagojevich deserves a new trial, his defense attorneys argue. Citing media reports, the defense lawyers contend that the foreperson, Connie Wilson, of Naperville, recently made a presentation to students at a high school in Aurora, in which she referenced the questionnaire she and other potential jurors had to fill out.
The defense attorneys, in a motion filed Friday, note that no one was able to obtain copies of the sealed, filled-out questionnaires and want Wilson to be questioned under oath about it.
It is not clear from the news accounts, however, whether Wilson has her own filled-out questionnaire or a blank one, which is readily available.
Wilson could not be reached for comment Friday.
Blagojevich was sentenced earlier this month to 14 years in prison for corruption and is expected to report to prison March 15. His defense team argues in the motion that two jurors were dismissed for rule violations, and the court needs to determine if Wilson violated rules as well.
In general, however, the defense faces an extremely high hurdle in getting a new trial because of a juror’s actions or public statements after the jury has announced its verdict in a criminal case.
In a similar incident, the failure of a juror in William Cellini's trial to disclose her felonious past could mean a new trial for the powerbroker.