WIUM Local
4:17 pm
Thu June 3, 2010

Blagojevich Trial Begins

Chicago, IL – The judge in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has begun questioning potential jurors for the case.

Among the first questions Judge James Zagel asked them were whether they had read much about the case and whether they could set aside any preconceived notions about Blagojevich.

The former governor is accused of scheming to profit from his power to fill President Barack Obama's former Senate seat. He denies any wrongdoing.

One potential juror said she had seen the former governor's wife, Patti Blagojevich, on a reality TV show eating a bug.

Jurors were referred to in the courtroom by numbers only. Zagel plans to keep the jury anonymous until after the trial. He denied a request by news organizations to reverse that.

A University of Illinois law professor says a major point of contention in the Blagojevich trial will be the link between favors granted by the former governor and requests for campaign donations and favors.

Professor Andrew Leipold thinks arguments by the defense will not focus on what Blagojevich said, but on what those statements mean.

"When the former governor said X, did he mean, and if you don't give me money I won't do it', or was he discussing two different topics: I'm prepared to do this'; and perhaps separately, Are you going to be contributing to my campaign, because we're doing a lot of good work, and I would value your support?'"

Leipold says that question will make testimony by someone like former Blagojevich aide Lon Monk especially important because he would be in a position to know the former governor's intentions.

Monk is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the Blagojevich trial.

Thanks to the Illinois Associated Press and Illinois Public Radio