It was clear this trial was not going well for the prosecution when the jury was having a hard time reaching a decision. And today we heard how bad it really was for Patrick Fitzgerald. The jury found Rod Blagojevich guilty on one count of lying to federal officials and deadlocked on the remaining 23 counts:
After 14 days of deliberations, the jury examining the corruption case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich found him guilty on only one count of the 24 counts he faced.
The jury was hung on the 23 other charges, including the allegation that Blagojevich conspired to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
The disgraced former governor was found guilty of making false statements to the FBI, a crime that carries a maximum prison term of five years. Jurors could not reach agreement on the other charges including racketeering, bribery, and conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
It’s a major loss for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who ordered the arrest of a sitting governor.
Tonight, prosecutors said they “absolutely” plan to try Blagojevich again with a new jury.
This is more than just a loss for Fitzgerald. This is a humiliation that will follow him around for the rest of his career.
Update: According to the Sun-Times, some of the 23 charges weren’t even close to unanimous; however, the most significant of the charges that Blago was attempting to selling Obama’s senate seat came down to one holdout juror who refused to convict without a smoking gun:
That one juror — a woman whom her colleagues declined to identify — felt she had not gotten the “clear-cut evidence” she needed to convict, Sarnello said.
“Say it was a murder trial — she wanted the video,” Sarnello said. “She wanted to hear [Blagojevich] say, ‘I’ll give you this for that.’ . . . For some people, it was clear. Some people heard that. But for some, it wasn’t clear.”
Matsumoto said the jurors were overwhelmed by the number of counts and the amount of evidence in the case.
Although he believes Blagojevich was guilty on all counts, others argued there was no “smoking gun,” he said. Had the government waited for Blagojevich to receive some benefit, it might have been easier to prove.
Sarnello said jurors were also frustrated by a lack of order in the government’s case.
“It confused some people, just the way they presented it,” said Sarnello, a student from Itasca. “They didn’t really follow a timeline at all.”