A Blagojevich Juror Speaks Out: Cynthia Parker Discusses The Trial
Following Tuesday's verdict in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial, Judge James Zagel released names of the jury to the media. Within an hour, the 12 men and women who made up the jury were inundated with phone calls and had reporters banging on their doors.
With a major federal corruption trial, this sort of chaos is to be expected, and several jurors have spent the past few days publicly discussing what went on during deliberations. HuffPost Chicago reached out to juror and Gurnee resident Cynthia Parker--who answered some of our questions about being on the jury.
When you were chosen to be on the jury, did you know much about the case?
We figured out who's trial it would be when I received the summons. I felt that I had little chance of being selected due to my being a state employee. I did not know much about the case. I did not follow the news and heard bits and pieces but did not feel the need to form an opinion.
After Tuesday's verdict, Sam Adam Sr. said federal prosecutors turned the media against Blagojevich from the start. Do you think U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's description of a "crime spree" that would make "Lincoln roll over in his grave" was at all accurate?
I would not have used those words. I felt that his actions showed desperation in his attempts to accumulate wealth and therefore power in order to further his political goals and that became careless in his actions and crossed the line of legality of which he was very much aware.
According to published reports and interviews with other jurors, there was one woman holding out when it came to convicting Blagojevich for attempting to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat. Do you think she came into the trial with a certain agenda that was hidden from Judge Zagel during jury selection?
One could only suspect and it crossed my mind at first but after getting to know her and all the others I feel she truly believed there was not enough evidence and was strong enough to stick to her convictions. I learned that everyone sees things so very differently and some things I believed were changed after listening to other opinions and going over the evidence.
Do you think federal prosecutors are making the right choice to retry Blagojevich?
Yes I do!
Did you enjoy being part of the jury in a federal political corruption trial?
Yes I did. It was very hard work and my life had to be placed on hold but it was a real learning experience and I have met some fascinating and wonderful human beings that I feel a real attachment to.
Do you think Blagojevich should serve jail time for lying to federal agents?
Probably not for that but that is not up to me.
Many people are saying that the feds need to convict Blagojevich to send a message--that corruption will no longer be tolerated in Illinois. Do you think what Blagojevich was doing--at least in the wiretapped conversations--is just how politics works these days?
I think it is to a lesser extent. He was just too arrogant and blatant but anyone who breaks the law should be charged.
What advice would you give to the future Blagojevich jury?
Pay close attention to instructions and make sure you get clear definitions of legal terms such as "conspiracy" and "attempt."