Blago holdout juror was a retired state employee, handed out campaign literature for a relative who ran for office, and listened to NPR and liberal talk radio

Ace of Spades has the flaming skull up for this exclusive update about Blago’s hold out juror. He links to this report from Fox Chicago:

Jurors who have been interviewed so far will not identify the juror, other than to say the juror was a female.

FOX Chicago News reported that speculation is centering on juror Jo Ann Chiakulas of Willowbrook, after a second-hand acquaintance said that she has been saying for weeks that she would find Blagojevich not guilty.

Chiakulas is a retired director from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Contacted Tuesday night, she told FOX Chicago News she would call on Wednesday if she wished to talk about the case.

On one count at least, Chiakulas voted with her fellow jurors, agreeing to convict Blagojevich of lying to federal agents.

He also notes that Chiakulas was for a period of time active in the Chicago Urban League.

Ace isn’t suggesting that anything illegal happened. What he is saying is that this juror clearly was interested and active in Chicago politics, so she should have been disqualified from the juror:

I don’t think that there’s some direct thing going on here — but this is obviously a highly political woman, steeped in dirty Chicago machine politics. And she knows who gets hurt and who gets helped based on her verdict.

What. Was. She. Doing. In. The. Jury. Pool.

If You’re Wondering About Her Last Name… She married a Cypriot. He was a family and employment lawyer… who represented unionized workers, like Chicago bridgeworkers.

Again, I’m not alleging payoff. I’m alleging that this woman had no business being anywhere near a jury.

Well, that is interesting. If you’re not sure if this is a big deal, ask yourself this. Would someone who watched Fox News, listened to Rush and Glenn, and was a Tea Party member have made it on to Tom Delay’s jury, if he had been tried?

Added Thursday morning: I wrote and published this post late last night after taking my three kids on a day trip to Mackinac Island. When I got up this morning and read Jim Addison‘s comment I thought perhaps in my fatigue I overreacted to what Ace considered to be a bombshell development.

Then I read SCSIwuzzy‘s comment about serving on a malpractice jury:

When I sat on a medical malpractice jury they asked if anyone had a doctor, nurse or other medical professional in their family, and if anyone had a friend or relative with a negative outcome in a hospital/medical setting. Plenty of “could you render judgement without bias?” questions. Even asked about religious beliefs regarding assisted suicide, organ donation and life support. I cannot imagine that a juror was allowed to pass out campaign literature for ANY candidate in ANY race at a trial of a politician accused of abusing his office.

Jim makes the valid point that Chicago is over flowing with politically active liberal NPR listeners and if Patrick Fitzgerald challenged every one of them for the cause of being politically biased in favor of Blagojevich, there wouldn’t have been much of a jury pool to pick from (according to the rules of voir dire, challenges for cause are not limited in number, but the judge can overrule a challenge if he or she thinks the reasons are not established well enough).

Perhaps Fitzgerald should have requested a change of venue. Since he didn’t and accepted the final jury panel that included a liberal who was active in Chicago politics, Patterico argues that Fitzgerald deserved to lose this case.

Update: Here’s a little perspective on why it was a really bad idea for Fitzgerald to accept the jury when one of its member was, for all intents and purposes, a Chicago political operative. AOLNews reported yesterday that the holdout juror insisted that what Blagojevich was caught on audio doing was nothing more than Chicago politics as usual:

Rod Blagojevich appeared to have at least one key juror in his corner, who believed the former Illinois governor was simply engaging in politics as usual rather than anything illegal.

Jury foreman James Matsumoto, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show this morning, said some of the votes were 11-1 in favor of conviction, but a female juror sided with Blagojevich, arguing “that he was a politician, he was talking to other politicians, sometimes his fundraisers, sometimes his chief of staff or deputy governors. He was just talking.”

“She saw it as no crime was being committed, it was just talk, political talk. That was her position,” Matsumoto said. “All of us as jury respected her position, her right to have that opinion.”

I agree that attempting to sell a senate seat to the highest bidder is Chicago politics as usual. It’s also illegal. This mindset of “oh, it’s just harmless Chicago politics as usual” is why Chicago remains a cesspool of criminal activity. Equally shocking is that the 11 other jurors who were convinced that Blago committed a crime and wanted to convict him for it actually thought the holdout juror’s view was respectable.

What’s respectable about making excuses for criminal activity? These Chicago political operatives are completely disconnected from the rest of America.

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