Naperville woman led Blago jury, says verdict is just

  • Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts.

    Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts. Associated Press

  • Praising the diligence shown by her fellow jurors, the jury forewoman from Naperville explains how they found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 counts in his corruption trial. The Naperville woman, a retired director of music and liturgy for her church, declined to give her name, which the court will release this morning.

    Praising the diligence shown by her fellow jurors, the jury forewoman from Naperville explains how they found former Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of 20 counts in his corruption trial. The Naperville woman, a retired director of music and liturgy for her church, declined to give her name, which the court will release this morning. Associated Press

  • Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts.

    Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts. Associated Press

  • Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts.

    Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts. Associated Press

  • Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts.

    Jurors speak out following a guilty verdict for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich Monday in Chicago. The federal jury convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/28/2011 5:21 AM

In contrast to the circus atmosphere buzzing around the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial, the Naperville woman who headed the jury said she and her peers meticulously pored over the evidence to reach "a fair and just verdict" that found the ex-governor guilty of 17 out of 20 felony counts.

"We were thorough and diligent in examining all the evidence for all 20 counts," said the jury's forewoman, a retired director of music and liturgy for her church. She declined to give her name and the court won't release the names of the 11 women and one man on the jury until Tuesday morning.

 

"We know there's a lot of bargaining that goes on behind the scenes" in government, the Naperville forewoman said, but she added that she thought the guilty verdicts sent "a clear message" that officials can't engage in illegal activity.

Blagojevich, 54, was impeached in January 2009 and convicted of only one count of lying to the FBI in his first trial last summer after the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on the majority of the counts. The disgraced governor has been on a publicity tour, proclaiming his innocence on talk shows and as a guest for late-night comedians.

Jury members nodded in agreement Monday when asked if they found the governor personable or even likable during his testimony. But they didn't find him credible.

"I did everything I could to find him not guilty, but the proof was there," said one female juror. She said she'd come into the courtroom thinking he was innocent, hear the evidence and then think, "Gosh darn it, Rod, you did it again."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Another juror said it was difficult to separate the man from the crimes "because he was so personable."

The jury was "12 strangers" who evolved into "an amazing group of people" that should make taxpayers "proud," the forewoman said. "They were so wanting to keep 'innocent until proven guilty.'"

Jurors nodded in agreement as one female juror said the easiest decision was finding Blagojevich guilty of trying to peddle President Obama's former Senate seat for his personal gain. Blagojevich's defense lawyers contended Blagojevich's tape-recorded comments about trading the Senate appointment for a high-powered job were just talk from a politician who liked to talk.

"Our verdict shows we did not believe it," one juror said. She noted that Blagojevich went beyond talk because "there were several times he said, 'Do it.'"

"There were just so many times he brought it up to people," noted another juror.

Jurors said the group had to "vote and revote" on all the counts during their nine days of deliberation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Outside the courthouse, a couple hundred spectators waited for Blagojevich to arrive and to leave. There were boos each time, although at least one person applauded.

The crowd, snapping photographs of reporters and the arriving governor, included locals getting off the Blue Line and soaking up some history before heading on to the Taste of Chicago, tourists who had no idea what the fuss was about, sightseers from atop a double-decker bus and curious office-workers such as Sean Gillette of Round Lake.

"I came just to see the Blagojevich circus," said Gillette, 38, who walked over on his lunch hour from the Willis Tower, where he works in IT finance for United Airlines. When fellow spectators wondered why Blagojevich wasn't at the courthouse yet, Gillette quipped, "Maybe he's taking his last jog as an innocent man."

Jury members smiled at questions about Blagojevich's infamous and foul-mouthed depiction of Obama's Senate seat as "(expletive) golden," but said that didn't seal his doom.

"There were a lot of calls (phone calls recorded by the government) that supported our verdict," one said.

As the forewoman was freed to return to her Naperville life, she added that this trial had taught her one other thing.

"I told my husband if he was running for politics," she said, "he'd probably have to find a new wife."