The jury forewoman in Rod Blagojevich's second trial denied today that she improperly took a juror questionnaire and showed it to a high school class. The questionnaire in question was just a blank form that she got from the court to explain the civic process to students, forewoman Connie Wilson said.
"Of course, I couldn't have access to any of my own forms because those are all sealed in court," said Wilson, explaining that the court clerk sent her blank forms that are regularly issued to government classes and civic teachers.
The questionnaire issue arose last week when the former governor's legal team filed an emergency motion alleging that Wilson may have flouted the judge's orders that juror questionnaires be kept under seal and confidential. The motion cited a newspaper article that reported that Wilson showed "copies of her jury summons and questionnaire" to students during an appearance at an Aurora high school.
But in a sharply worded rebuke Monday, U.S. District Judge James Zagel denied the motion, calling it "harebrained" and suggesting that the Blagojevich lawyer who wrote the filing write a letter of apology to the juror.
"This motion was prepared without any adequate forethought," Zagel said.
Wilson said she found out about the motion on Saturday from her sister, who called to tell her that it was all over the news. On Sunday, Wilson said reporters waited outside her home as she and her family threw their annual Christmas party.
"It was a little disconcerting," Wilson said. "We've been so careful about everything we say and everything we talk about as jurors to make sure we are always appropriate."
The filing was submitted by Lauren Kaeseberg, one of Blagojevich’s attorneys, but the rest of the legal team was included on the filing – Sheldon Sorosky, Aaron Goldstein and Elliott Riebman.
"If it is found that Ms. Wilson violated court rules, her violations must result in a new trial," Blagojevich's attorneys argued.
But Zagel on Monday said the motion "smacks a little bit of retaliatory (motive against) a juror."
Kaeseberg, however, defended the filing, arguing that it was done in "100 percent good faith."
"There was absolutely no attack on this juror whatsoever,” she said.
When asked whether she was going to issue an apology to Wilson or an explanation of the filing to the court, Kaeseberg demurred.
"It just happened. I have to process it," Kaeseberg said.
Wilson said it was "nice" of Judge Zagel to ask for an apology, but said that it wasn't necessary.
"I'm not that kind of person," said Wilson, adding that she believed the defense team was doing what they thought was right for their client. "It's not something that I personally need."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun