You wouldn’t think fractions would come into play in the retrial of embattled former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but it seems the judicial system will rely on the lowest common denominator to determine the outcome of the high-profile case.
On Jan. 29, 2009, the Illinois Senate ousted Blagojevich from his lofty seat for alleged abuse of power. This came after the FBI arrested him on Dec. 9 for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s empty U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a job after he stepped down as governor.
In trial, though, jurors only found Blagojevich guilty of lying to the FBI.
This time around, U.S. District Judge James Zagel has over the past two days interviewed almost 50 people for spots on Blago’s jury, according to a Monday Associated Press article. But those flagged as potential selections included a woman who feared missing “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” to which she has tickets in mid-May, and a woman whose only experience with the justice system is tuning in to “Judge Judy.”
On the other hand, Zagel rejected a Chicago Tribune journalist and a psychiatrist who counseled two suicidal patients.
While we as journalists understand the desire to appoint jurors with little to no bias –– preferably those who didn’t follow Blagojevich’s first trial ––, we know better than most that objectivity is impossible. We also know, thanks to first-hand experience, that the average, “unbiased” American is largely uninformed and easily manipulated.
While Zagel wants to select his jury by Tuesday, according to the AP article, we think it imperative that he slow the process and find people with at least some knowledge of the political system to which they belong.
Perhaps fractions should take a back seat to high school civics.