Jury selection is under way for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (and his hair) in Chicago. It’s a retrial, as you recall, because in our last go around the defense attorneys managed to convince one weak-minded individual that “she couldn’t be responsible for sending him [Blago] away for that long”. Never mind about deliberating on the facts of the case separately.
Of course this was the Team Blago strategy from the get-go: seek out as much free publicity as humanly possible, thus interfering with a potential jury pool, then attempt to stock the jury with at least a few fools who could be somehow manipulated or . Now comes round two. We have one woman who warned the judge about the trial interfering with her tickets to the last Oprah show. We have a claustrophobic and other characters.
Most of all, according to the suitability questions, we have a bunch of Illinoisans who have made themselves willfully ignorant to the stories and coverage of Blago’s misadventures – both before and after impeachment. They don’t want to read/listen to that types of news. They don’t think that much about state government. They’d rather spend time on something else.
In short – and we hate to paint with broad strokes because there are always exceptions – they will make a pretty crappy jury. So the obvious question: why not move this kind of high profile federal trial somewhere else? Why not try Blago in Arkansas or Oregon or Rhode Island? At the state level, the courts often move high profile courts to different districts within Illinois to assist with jury selection after all.
More to the point, what exactly would constitute a trial of Blago’s peers? Hasn’t he already had that from the (prohibitively Democrat-dominated, so you can’t argue partisan politics) Illinois State Assembly in the form of the impeachment? Those are state legislators after all, a job Blago recently had, and a group more than a little familiar with the kind of shenanigans and double-dealings of Illinois state government?
Now Blago might argue he has few peers, but you could also move the jury outside state lines and limit the pool to: attorneys, retired governors, other state legislators… Then we might get somewhere.
Instead, we just have to hold our collective noses and hope justice is done. It’s sad that the best hope for those who want to see Blago get his has more to do with him running out of money for his defense team than with a carefully balanced legal process.