The jury in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial has found the former Illinois governor guilty on only one of twenty-four counts: lying to the FBI. On the other twenty-three, they simply couldn't reach a unanimous decision. Blagojevich was, in the blogosphere, at least, overwhelmingly presumed guilty. His talk of selling a senatorial seat was caught on tape. So how did this verdict happen? And will there be a retrial?
- Loss for a Pretty High-Profile Lawyer Politico's Ben Smith posts part of an email from a "Chicago correspondent: 'The great Patrick Fitzgerald beaten on all but one count by a couple of two-bit 26th and California lawyers.'"
- 'There's No Denying That Blagojevich Won Big Today,' writes attorney and blogger Doug Mataconis. "Prosecutors rarely lose in Federal Court and while this isn't an outright acquittal, it's close enough considering the high-profile nature of the case and the fact that Blagojevich's attorneys didn’t even put on a defense case (meaning that the jury wasn't even able to convict based solely on the prosecutions evidence)."
- Not Over Yet "The verdict brings a partial resolution to an 18-month political soap opera that has dominated the state's politics," writes The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. But "while the outcome is a clear victory for the former governor, the conviction and the possibility of a second prosecution almost certainly extend a story line that has badly imperiled his party's prospects in the state this fall." The lawyers are likely to attempt a retrial for the "23 counts on which the jury hung."
- Agreed "'Elvis has not left the building," concurs the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times grimly, strongly supporting a retrial. The Chicago Tribune is with them: "we're thankful that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and his team were swift in assuring citizens that they would take their case to a second group of jurors."
- How It Happened Time's Dawn Reiss points to "two key moments in the trial" that may have led to the hung jury:
The first was older brother Robert's feisty performance on the stand under fierce prosecutorial questioning, refusing to admit he did anything wrong, basically running interference for his brother. The second was Adam's argument that, in essence, his client was a loudmouth but incapable of actually committing the crimes he contemplated out loud. Indeed, outside observers said much the same: a lot of talk but no proof of successful extortion.
- Our Laws, as They Stand Scott Turow suggests in The New York Times that the "jury's indecision might have been a reaction at some level to the hypocritical mess our campaign financing system has become."