Blagojevich trial juror names secret, Judge James Zagel opinion, Media conduct improper and abusive

Blagojevich trial juror names secret, Judge James Zagel opinion, Media conduct improper and abusive

“Why did the Illinois Senate Health & Human Services Committee, with Obama as chairman, create and push Bill 1332, “Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act,” early in 2003, which reduced the number of members on the Board from 15 to 9, just prior to rigging by Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich?”…Citizen Wells

“I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich

From the Chicago Tribune March 1, 2011.

“A federal judge says he’ll keep the names of jurors at the upcoming retrial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich secret until 9 a.m. the day after proceedings end – brushing aside arguments from media groups that there’s a public interest in releasing them sooner.

In a six-page opinion, Judge James Zagel cites some reporters repeatedly knocking on the doors of jurors’ homes just hours after Blagojevich’s first trial ended, as well as a TV station helicopter hovering over a house where another panelist was staying.

“The conduct of some media after the names were released was improper and, in some cases, abusive,” Zagel wrote in an opinion posted late Monday.

Among the remedies he could employ to ward off journalists after the retrial, Zagel wrote, was passing out “No Trespassing” signs to jurors to put up on their doors or in their yards.

At the retrial, set to start April 20, Blagojevich faces charges including that he tried to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. At the first trial, jurors deadlocked on all but one count, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. The former governor denies all wrongdoing.

The Chicago Tribune and other media groups had asked Zagel to release the jurors’ names immediately after the retrial ends. Their attorney, James Klenk, said Tuesday that he was disappointed in Zagel’s ruling, adding he hadn’t yet discussed the possibility of an appeal with his clients.

At a recent hearing on the issue, Zagel used unusually tough language to chastise reporters. Zagel said that as a consequence of what he described as “harassment” by reporters at the first trial, otherwise qualified potential jurors may be leery about serving at the second trial “because they fear an onslaught of a rapacious media.””

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