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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich found guilty on 17 counts including trying to sell or trade President Obama’s old Senate seat

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

CHICAGO — A jury has found former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 corruption-related charges, including trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Blagojevich had faced 20 charges, including the Senate seat allegation and that he schemed to shake down executives for campaign donations. He was convicted on all charges regarding the Senate seat.

The jurors delivered their verdicts Monday after deliberating nine days.

Blagojevich testified for seven days, denying wrongdoing.

According to Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair, Blagojevich turned to his wife Patti and whispered “I love you” after the verdict was read. Patti kept shaking her head and remained seated as the jury exited the trial room.

Prosecutors said he lied and the proof was on FBI wiretaps. Those included a widely parodied clip in which Blagojevich calls the Senate opportunity “f—— golden.”

Blagojevich was in court for the verdict.

Jurors in his first trial deadlocked on all but one charge, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI.

Blagojevich already faces up to five years for the lying conviction.

Deadlock at first trial
Jurors at the first trial came back deadlocked after deliberating for 14 days. They agreed on just one of 24 counts, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI.

Despite that, hung juries are rare. According to one federal study, using data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, just 2.5 percent of federal trials from 1980 to 1997 ended hung — a lower rate than for juries in state courts.

When jurors do deadlock, it is often at trials where the charges are complex and where the evidence appears ambiguous, a 2002 federally funded study by The National Center for State Courts found.

“You have both in the Blagojevich case — complexity and evidence that’s not straightforward,” said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago defense attorney who tries cases in federal court.

Prosecutors almost certainly factored that in going into the retrial. They streamlined the case by dropping racketeering counts against the ex-governor and dismissing all charges against his then co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich.

And at the retrial, they presented just three weeks of evidence — half the time taken at the first trial. They called fewer witnesses, asked fewer questions and played shorter excerpts of FBI wiretaps that underpin most of the charges.

There was also a new variable at the retrial: Testimony from Blagojevich himself. At the first trial, the defense rested without calling any witnesses and Blagojevich didn’t testify despite vowing that he would.

But retrial jurors saw a deferential Blagojevich look them in the eyes and deny each and every allegation, telling them his talk on the recordings was mere brainstorming. This time, jurors must decide if they believe him.

The article on the MSNBC website can be seen here.

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