Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Ousted Illinois Governor

Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Ousted Illinois Governor


A judge has begun questioning of potential jurors to hear the case of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich has been charged with 24 counts of corruption after allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when Obama ascended to the presidency. Blagojevich has also been accused of using extortion tactics against the Tribune Company and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Jury selection has been going slowly as matters are complicated by the public exploits of Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, the New York Times reports.

One potential juror recalled “something about bugs or something,” which was apparently a reference to Patti Blagojevich’s stint on the reality show “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here.” Others heard jokes about Blagojevich on Jay Leno’s television show and another recalled Blagojevich’s own reality show appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

The Times reported on the melee:

“A circuslike feel, meanwhile, has already taken seed here, though the trial is expected to last for months. On Thursday morning, the courtroom was packed, and many curiosity seekers were turned away. Outside the courthouse, cameras whirled and a crush of people surrounded all those involved. People stopped to stare, snapping photographs on cellphones.”

But the show will go on, a year and a half after the Blagojevich was arrested.

A request to delay the trial was refused by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens last week. Blogjevich’s defense team has subpoenaed Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, and a host of other Chicago politicians.