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Inherit The Windbag: Juror Potpourri

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 19, 2010 3:20PM

As more information trickles out and more jurors come forward to discuss their time served during the Blago Corruption Trial we're learning more and more about what happened behind closed doors. Perhaps the most eyebrow raising news of the morning is that CBS 2 has apparently outed the holdout juror: Jo Ann Chiakulas, a retired state employee for the Illinois Department of Public Health and previously a director of teen counseling for the Chicago Urban League. CBS 2 notes that the CUL was run by former Blago press secretary Cheryle Jackson but that Chiakulas left before Jackson took over. Still, there's plenty more left to uncover from this even as Chiakulas remains silent. One juror speculated, "If it wasn't for that one lady, we'd have had him convicted on probably 80 percent of (the indictment)." Despite this, her fellow jurors refused to criticize her for holding out. Cynthia Parker said, "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and I respect that. She did very well and she was a very strong person."

We're also learning how close brother Robert came to being acquitted. Robert was charged with four counts and juror John Grover of Joliet told the Sun-Times that on a few of those - no exact number is given - the jury voted 9-3 in favor of acquittal and was split on the other charges. Said Grover of the deliberations, "The whole time we spent on Rod, in the background we talked about Robert. And I had a feeling that nobody wanted to send him to jail. There really wasn't a lot there." Juror Stephen Wlodek, who claimed he voted to convict Robert, added, "There was this notion that Robert was a victim in all of this." Perhaps more telling: neither Grover or Wlodek think retrying Robert should be a high priority for prosecutors.

As usual, Steve Rhodes over at the Beachwood Reporter has some salient points, including questioning whether or not jurors understood the definition of "conspiracy." In addition, the Blago news has taken our state's corruption international with coverage from the BBC that asks the question, Why are officials from Illinois and its largest city, Chicago, so often shady?" and, yes, name-drops Al Capone.

And as if Blago doesn't have enough on his mind, that storage unit with many prized possessions is heading to the auction block today.