In praise of the Blago jury "holdout"

Juror JoAnn Chiakulas has taken a lot more than her share of lumps for being the "holdout" in the 11-to-1 verdict on the most serious charge against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his corruption trial--the selling of Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

In her first interview, she described what it felt like as being the only person to take her stand and stick to it. She said she had come under some pressure to conform with everyone else's view, but that she could not have lived with herself if she had voted against her conscience and the facts as she saw them.


For that, she's getting worked over in the comments section (e.g. "she's an idiot"), but in my view the person who said that is an idiot.

Every time there's a high-profie trial that goes against public opinion, the second guessers show up.

They "know" they truth, although they weren't in the courtroom, listening to all the testimony and viewing all the evidence. Nor were they in the jury room, to participate in the discussion with others who were fully informed.

Nor do they have to live with their decisions for the rest of their lives, and the possibility that they are sending an innocent person to prison, or worse.

Chiakulas, in my view, is a courageous person, and ought to be treated with real respect.


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  • She has the right to do what she did, and if she can sleep at night, so be it.

    However, I originally suspected that the holdout was one of the two current or former state employees, and would have made a peremptory challenge against her to begin with. It is possible that being a state employee, she knew what sleaze was going on in state government and didn't like it, but, more than likely, she had clout to get her state job, and thus was in no position to complain about the consequences of the clout system, including shakedowns.

    The one benefit is that if there is a retrial, Blago now knows that one juror does not result in an acquittal. I predict that once he and his legal team figure out the constraints of working under the Criminal Justice Act, a plea agreement will be forthcoming. Of course, while Adam Sr. did act, IMO, in a professional manner in the press conference yesterday, and said that he would have to confer with his client, and do what is in the client's best interest, he seemed to indicate that that wasn't necessarily taking Blago's pronouncements on his media tour, especially about not plea bargaining, at face value.

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