In Blagojevich Trial, Why Is the Jury Deadlocked?

Can they just let him walk away?

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The jury in the Blagojevich trial is reportedly "hopelessly deadlocked on every count that involves a specific act." No one is quite sure what that means, including the judge who, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, "has responded in writing, asking the jury for clarification." Those following the trial are now trying to figure out where things might go from here.

  • Hung on the Racketeering Charges?  That's what Attorney Michael Ettinger "speculated" in a press conference. "That's a lengthy and complicated charge that is divided into six seaparate 'acts,'" explain the Chicago Sun-Times team headed by Sarah Ostman. "[Ettinger] said if they couldn't reach an agreement on any count involving a specific act, that would technically involve just about every count in the indictment except for the false statement charges."
  • 'I Don't Think This Jury Is Divided, I Think They are Hopelessly Confused,' says Jeralyn at TalkLeft, reviewing the "practically incomprehensible" instructions given by the judge. "I don't know how anyone expects the jury to be able to figure out what the alleged racketeering acts are, let alone unanimously decide which ones Rod Blagojevich committed." Here's Jeralyn's theory:
It's not a question of can they agree Blagojevich did "X" but that they can't agree on what the "X" is. Since they have to be unanimous on at least two "X"'s, and they are stumped on what some of the "X"'s are, they don't know how to go any further on those counts. They probably have resolved all the other counts and that's what behind the question as to whether they can submit verdicts on just some of the counts.
  • What Happens If This Deadlock Holds? "They've been deliberating for 11 days," points out Hot Air's Allahpundit, "so it's not like they haven't tried." That brings him to the "obvioius question: What happens if they find him guilty on some of the lesser charges and hang on the bigger ones? Will the feds retry him or let it go and take what they can get sentencing-wise on the smaller counts?" He thinks the feds probably "have to retry him," as Blagojevich is "a national poster boy for shady politics at this point. If they let him walk away, they’re practically blessing corruption in the court of public opinion."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.