Blagojevich defense team wants to restart jury selection in Illinois corruption trial

Thursday, May 27, 2010

File photo of Rod Blagojevich in 2006
Image: Erik Abderhalden.

Lawyers for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich claim that the judge in his corruption trial inappropriately dismissed hundreds of potential jurors without consulting any of the parties in the case. As the trial is likely to last for several months, US District Judge James Zagel had stated in a previous hearing that he would conduct a "hardship screening" process and dismiss those jurors he feels would be burdened by this duty. 

The defense team, however, argues that it must be involved in such changes to the jury pool and claims that over 300 people may have been dismissed in this "unilateral" move. The lawyers are expected to request a redo of the selection process during a status hearing before Zagel on Thursday. 

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 3. Blagojevich's lawyers have already filed a request with the US Supreme Court to delay the trial on different, constitutional grounds. Justice John Paul Stevens has given prosecutors until Friday to respond to that motion.