Jurors at the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich are set to return for a 13th day of deliberations Monday — with the possibility of additional word coming soon about whether they've reached full agreement.
The six men and six women are coming off a three-day break after creating a stir with a note to the presiding judge signaling they're stuck on at least several of the 24 charges against the impeached governor.
That message from jurors to Judge James B. Zagel on Thursday morning doesn't necessarily mean they are an indecisive bunch or incapable of grasping the complex case, some legal observers argued.
"It certainly shows this jury is holding true to its oath and being incredibly conscientious and serious about what they're doing," David Erickson, a law professor and former judge in the Appellate Court of Illinois, said last week.
Blagojevich and his co-defendant brother, Robert Blagojevich, believed jurors could come back with another note late Thursday and so waited in a courthouse cafeteria. The former governor played a trivia game to pass the time.
But a court official announced Thursday afternoon that jurors had decided to go home and not to return Friday — a departure from their usual practice. They have otherwise deliberated on weekdays, taking weekends off.
There was no explanation for why jurors decided to cut short their week.
The Thursday note — in which jurors said they had managed to agree on just two counts, couldn't reach a decision on 11, and hadn't even deliberated on 11 wire fraud counts — led to speculation about what happens next.
Zagel sent a note back saying jurors should deliberate on the wire fraud counts. But he didn't say what action he might take if jurors weren't able to reach a consensus.
His options include accepting a partial verdict, then declaring the jury is hung on the undecided charges. That could result in prosecutors retrying Blagojevich on counts jurors couldn't agree on.
Zagel could also keep telling jurors to go back and deliberate for days or even weeks more.
Zagel said there were no signs of acrimony in the jury room. No one within earshot of the room, he said, had heard jurors raising their voices in anger — something that's not uncommon during difficult cases.
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to all 24 counts, including charges he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat for a top job or campaign cash. His 54-year-old brother, a Nashville, Tenn., businessman, faces four counts and also pleaded not guilty.
AP Writer Sophia Tareen also contributed to this report.
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