But prosecutors said in their filing that a partially formed opinion isn’t in itself grounds for booting someone off a jury. And in any case, they added, Juror No. 174 assured Zagel that he understood he was obliged to decide Blagojevich’s guilt or innocence based only on the evidence presented in court.
“Juror 174 told the court he believed he could do that and stated that he would do that,” prosecutors said. “Nothing in the juror’s comments suggested that he had ‘an irrational or unshakeable bias.’”
Zagel imposed the stiff 14-year prison term at a hearing later in 2011, scolding Blagojevich for abusing voters’ trust and undermining the democratic process “to do things that were only good for yourself.”
Now into his second year in prison, Blagojevich could learn the fate of his appeal soon. A three-judge appellate panel is expected to schedule oral arguments and then issue a ruling within months.
After the then-governor’s Dec. 9, 2008, arrest, Blagojevich hit the talk show circuit to declare his innocence and to rail against prosecutors. He even appeared on Donald Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.”
Secret wiretaps of an often foul-mouthed Blagojevich eager to earn big money were at the core of prosecutors’ case. “I’ve got this thing and it’s f------ golden,” jurors heard Blagojevich saying in one wiretapped conversation about Obama’s vacated seat. “And I’m just not giving it up for f------ nothing.”