Who is deciding Rod Blagojevich’s fate? Background on the jury
BY NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporter June 22, 2011 2:30PM
The jury in Rod Blagojevich’s second trial was composed of 11 women and one man. They found Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 counts. | Antonio Perez~AP photos
Updated: June 27, 2011 7:42PM
The 11 women and one man who are deciding Rod Blagojevich’s fate have little in common, though most share a disinterest in politics. One said before trial he thought Blagojevich was “possibly guilty” — but, he added, that was just a guess. The defense unsuccessfully tried to bounce him. The 12 were part of a pool of 18 left over after Judge James Zagel questioned more than a hundred potential jurors in late April. One was kicked off the jury during the trial and another was swapped into an alternate position, both for undisclosed reasons. That left five alternates and the following jurors in the room debating 20 counts against the ex-governor:
Juror No. 103: This woman is a self-titled “weekend warrior” with a sideline photography gig in addition to her job as a bartender. She spent much of the trial in the box closest to the witness stand, often laughing during Blagojevich’s testimony. She said she’s worked at a database management company and remembered last trial’s verdict, but not much else; the televisions at work are normally tuned to sports channels, she said. Zagel seemed to know where she works: “It’s a nice place,” he told her, taking care to ask if she ever overheard political conversations. “Here and there,” she responded, but noted she was usually too busy to pay much attention.
Juror No. 120: This juror is a young, perky woman who administers pensions, she said. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her kids and often spends time cleaning.
Juror No. 124: This woman used to work for a food service. A widow, she said she likes to listen to classical music and volunteers with children in first through fourth grades, helping them with reading. Her father served in the Navy and her husband was a carpenter.
Juror No. 131: This woman moved from California to Chicago because “you follow your love sometimes,” she told the judge. A dietician, she works for a food company with a focus on bananas. She’s participated in two triathlons and remembers last year’s trial, but said she could put her memories aside in deciding Blagojevich’s fate.
Juror No. 136: This female juror, an African American, served in the Navy and said she didn’t pay attention to last summer’s trial. Her child once visited a doctor at Children’s Memorial Hospital, which is at the center of one charge in which Blagojevich is accused of holding up state payments while trying to shakedown the hospital’s CEO for a campaign donation. A part-time caterer, she’s hoping to go into nursing, she told the judge. She plays softball and volleyball and said she reads the newspaper “for the sales.”
Juror No. 140: A third and fourth grade teacher who said she loves her job, this juror usually just reads headlines in the paper. She told Zagel she avoided details of Blagojevich’s first trial because she wasn’t very interested. As a teacher she receives information on the Teacher’s Retirement System, which Blagojevich has been accused of manipulating for personal benefits for himself and others. But she actively avoids reading TRS reports, she said, laughing. Her son was once arrested, but “he’s a good kid” and hasn’t been in trouble since, she told Zagel.
Juror No. 142: This juror does sterilization and lab work for a dental office in her brother’s practice, a job she’s been doing for the last nine years. Before that she spent her time raising her children. She’s served on a jury multiple times before. Her hobbies include reading, running and traveling, but she doesn’t watch a lot of TV or follow the news.
Juror No. 146: This woman has been practicing music since she was in junior high, and worked as a choral director until her recent retirement. In that position she supervised more than 600 people and served in a parish of about 3,700 families. She said she believes most politicians are good and said “since public officials are human, some may consider their own interests, and you’d hope that they would place their duties of office first” — a general opinion she said she could put aside in deciding a verdict. She has two adult children — the youngest is 25 — and said her brother was a fighter pilot in the Navy. She said she reads newspapers and sent letters to legislators opposing the death penalty.
Juror No. 149: This 40-something mother of three was recently laid off from her job as director of marketing and sales for a manufacturing company, a field she’s worked in for most of her life. She didn’t care, one way or the other, about the last trial, and told Zagel she could be a fair juror. She has three children between the ages of 4 and 13. Her husband is a local FedEx driver.
Juror No. 174: This father of two with a slight Boston accent was the only male on the jury. From what he read of Blagojevich’s first trial, “I figured he was possibly guilty, but that was just a guess,” the man said. It’s an opinion he said he could put aside, though that didn’t stop the defense from trying to kick him off for cause. He works in a distribution company and reads the newspaper on Sundays. He said he left Boston 27 years ago. His two kids, ages 18 and 22, are both in college.
Juror No. 179: This librarian has a master’s degree in library science and does social networking for the library where she works. She likes to swim and knit, and said she read up on Blagojevich after she got the summons because she was curious. Her husband, like juror No. 149, works at FedEx.
Juror No. 181: This older female said she didn’t form an opinion on Blagojevich because she didn’t care much about the news. She’s been retired for almost a year and donates to Goodwill and her church. She doesn’t read much of the newspaper, though said she enjoys the travel section.