Belmont Club

Hung Jury

ABC News reports that Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty on only one of 24 counts that he was charged with. “Jurors were unable to agree on the 23 others.” The single count on which the former governor was convicted was that of making false statements to the FBI about “a firewall between politics and government” and “that he does not track or want to know who contributes to him”. The jury had earlier indicated they were close to a verdict, but evidently only on the one count.

The Judge says he intends to declare a mistrial on the remaining counts. The Chicago Sun Times said that despite some disappointment at not getting an acquittal on some counts, the governor’s lawyers felt some justification.

“They said we were going to get steamrolled,” Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sam Adam Jr., said earlier today, referring to the length of jury deliberations and a possible stalemate in what many observers had predicted would be an open-and-shut case. “None of the pundits predicted this.”

Maybe because none of the pundits knew what was going on in the closed jury room, where rival and perhaps conflicting tendencies were at play.

Before the verdict was read, Rod Blagojevich sat looking at lawyers, alternately clasping his hands and drumming his fingers. His brother, Robert, leaned over to his wife, Julie, put his hands on hers and whispered something reassuring. She nodded. …

Last week, the panel revealed they were at an impasse over all but just two counts in the indictment. At 14 days, their deliberations stretched for almost half the length of the entirety of the trial.

One of the major accusations leveled against the governor was that he tried to shake down the newly-elected Barack Obama by asking for a Presidential appointment in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the seat. What Obama said he would give in return was a thank-you card. The former governor’s lawyers laughed it off as part of politics. That wasn’t extortion, his lawyer said. Just Chicago style negotiation. “You start high and they come low”.

Politico says that as matters stand, the governor is only looking at a maximum of 5 years in jail, calling it a victory for a man who has been accused of extorting money from a children’s hospital and offering to help the Chicago Tribune sell the Cubs if they’d only fire the editorial board that had been critical of him.

Maybe in a town where surviving is winning the Governor’s greatest vindication wasn’t in terms of virtue but power. He went 15 rounds with the Feds and by implication, with Rahm and the President himself. He didn’t go down for the count. Now the Feds want a rematch. But it’s pointless in a way. Whoever wins it probably won’t be Justice.