The lone hold-out in the first Rod Blagojevich trial, JoAnn Chiakulas, recently ended her silence and made a rational, strong appeal for juror respect and independence.
Because of her refusal to convict Blagojevich on all but one count, causing a mistrial on the others, the feds are trying the ex-governor again on serious corruption charges that could send him to prison for a decade.
Blagojevich's media blitz is transparently aimed at finding another strong-minded dissenter who could deadlock a jury again and discourage U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald from trying Blago for a third time. So, we have a prospect of another hold-out and the repeat kind of post-trial media assault on Chiakulas' personal life and privacy.
As galling as it is to see Blago "get away" with anything, everyone ought to be mindful that jury service is a civic responsibility that very few people seek. All the jurors on the first Blago panel deserve respect, whatever their decision was. No one outside the legal process has the right to challenge their intelligence or dedication.
It's something I said in refusing (perhaps the only pundit to do so) to criticize the O.J. Simpson jury for his acquittal. None of us has heard all the evidence and sat in the jury room for all the deliberations. Which is always the case with every jury trial.
Chiakulas' treatment could go either way as far as its impact goes on BlagoII. Perhaps, it will achieve Blago's aims, to stiffen the back of any juror that isn't convinced of Blago's guilt, becoming the one holdout to create another mistrial. Or perhaps it will backfire, scaring jurors into going with the flow to avoid public crucifixion.
Whatever you might think of Chiakulas' decision in BlagoI, she's exactly right on the responsibilities we have to respect and accept juries' decisions.