Ralph Schindler, 58, said the vast majority of the votes taken by
jury members were met with only one holdout proclaiming
"A number of counts were 11 to 1," he
said. "There were others that were less lopsided -- I think we had
two counts where we were 6-6."
Attorneys for the government and the defense will be closely
monitoring juror statements to the media in order to polish their
respective cases for the coming retrial, which will be set in motion
at an Aug. 26 hearing. Statements from jurors like Schindler can
help to clear up what worked and what didn't when the doors closed
for deliberation. The juror, however, said he has other things on
"I gotta respect the public's right to know how we came to our
decision," he said.
Blagojevich exited the courtroom praising the jury, which found
him guilty of lying to federal authorities and hung on the remaining
"The jury just showed you that -- notwithstanding this government
throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me -- that on every
count except for one they could not prove that I did anything
wrong," he said after the verdict.
It was a different story inside the courtroom, as Blagojevich
somberly stared at the table, averting stares from some jurors. If
his next jury is filled with people like Schindler, a Naval Academy
graduate and 21-year veteran, he may be in trouble.
The Vietnam veteran drew a smile from the ex-governor for his
detail-oriented responses to his jury interview, but he said he fell
on the guilty side of most of the votes.
"Most of the time I was a guilty vote -- sometimes with
reservations," he said.
Schindler said he did not pay much attention to the courtroom
arguments or the showmanship exhibited by Blagojevich's attorneys.
He admitted to not forming any opinion until deliberations began on
"I haven't thought much about the style. I focused more on the
evidence -- testimony and tapes," he said.
He said he found Bradley Tusk the most compelling witness against
the former governor. Tusk served as Blagojevich's No. 2 during his
first term and testified that he was "disgusted" by his boss's
alleged attempt to leverage a school grant for a Hollywood
fundraiser with then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel's brother. Tusk was the
only Blagojevich insider to testify without a plea deal or immunity
Schindler shed some light on the closed-door meetings and cryptic
notes the jury sent federal Judge James Zagel in the trial's closing
days -- requests described as "bizarre" and "unusual" by legal
The jury informed the court it had reached agreement on only two
of the 24 counts on Thursday, its 11th day of deliberations. But
that two became one by the time a verdict was returned on Tuesday. A
lone holdout was once again responsible for the hung jury.
Schindler could not recall the exact charge, but said it had
something to do with Tusk's testimony. Tusk was tied to bribery and
[to top of second column]
Schindler said he was the source of the last request sent to the
judge before a verdict was reached on Tuesday.
"When it became clear we weren't going to come to an agreement, I
wanted to look at the (jury) oath we took to make sure I had
fulfilled my obligation," he said.
That oath reads in part "you and each of you do solemnly swear to
well and truly try ... (to) render a true verdict according to the
evidence and the charge of the court."
He said it became apparent after 14 days of deliberation that
little could be done to reach a unanimous verdict on the 23 counts
of wire fraud, bribery, extortion and racketeering Blagojevich
faced, though he would not identify the holdout. He said after
reading the oath he felt comfortable with his votes and the jury's
His attitude toward jury duty is a far cry from the view usually
attributed to the general public -- he takes it just as seriously as
he did his decades-long service in the Navy.
"I felt I was given a duty, a job to do, and I decided I would do
it to the best of my ability," he said.
Schindler said deliberations were kept respectful and quiet --
unusual for hung juries and especially for such long deliberations.
"There were no personal attacks ... minimal coercion," he said.
"If someone felt pressured, we took a step back. We were very
Schindler says he hopes the next jury will "bring closure" to the
"They better pay attention," he said.
Prosecutors were adamant about retrying Blagojevich on all 23
counts, but they will revisit the indictment to decide if changes
need to be made.
The defense, meanwhile, is looking to not only prepare for
retrial, but to appeal Blagojevich's felony conviction. He faces up
to five years in prison for lying to the FBI in a 2005 interview.
Statehouse News; By BILL McMORRIS]