After all that, the best those measly jurors in Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial could manage was one conviction and a mistrial on the 23 other counts. The jurors are blaming the case's complexity. Why don't we hear this more often?
The former Illinois governor's charges, like many white-collar or political corruption cases, were more intricate than your average, "did he shoot the person, or not?" As the New York Times reports today, jurors — who spent several weeks in deliberations — were at first handed "instructions that ran to more than a hundred pages" and a "verdict sheet was as elaborate as some income tax forms." The charges were "highly technical and interconnected."
This jury was given the single most difficult task this side of mapping the human genome.
"It was like, ‘Here's a manual, go fly the space shuttle," Steve Wlodek, one of the jurors, said Wednesday.
Jurors said it took them several days just to figure out how to begin to break down their assignment into manageable tasks - not to mention how to understand the legal terminology (what exactly is conspiracy to commit extortion?). These were early hints of the multiple stumbling blocks they would find as they struggled, but failed, over 14 days of deliberations, to reach a verdict on any of the counts but one.
And while most of the attention in the last few days has focused on the one juror who blocked conviction on the case's most serious charges, the jurors were "more evenly split" on several others. Because who could even understand this shit?
Which raises the question: why isn't this a more common result and excuse in these high- or medium-profile corruption cases, given that the law is really, really difficult to understand? The court isn't going to select idiots for a jury like this, but still, chances are that very few of them had law degrees! Maybe some of you lawyer or ex-jury member readers can explain: how are jurors expected to wrap their heads around this stuff so conclusively? Assuming they're even paying attention during the trial?
[Image via AP]