Librarian, bartender among Blago jurors

Jurors weighing corruption charges against impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich include a former church choir director, a librarian who likes to knit in her spare time and a dietitian who specializes in bananas.

Those backgrounds are just one of many factors that will help decide whether the 12 jurors — who begin their first full day of deliberation Monday — can reach a verdict in the former governor’s case, attorneys and trial experts say.

Jurors at Blagojevich’s first trial deadlocked after a lone holdout prevented a conviction on the most explosive allegation — that he sought to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job.

The jury this time is mulling over roughly the same accusations, including the Senate seat charge and allegations that Blagojevich sought to shake down businessmen for campaign donations.

But there are some things they have that jurors last year didn’t: most notably, Blagojevich’s own testimony as part of a defense case.

Despite a promise to jurors by Blagojevich’s former attorney at the first trial, Blagojevich never took the stand and the defense decided not to call any witnesses. That jury could agree on just one count, convicting Blagojevich of the least serious charge — lying to the FBI.

This time, Blagojevich looked the jurors in the eyes during seven days on the witness stand and denied all the charges. The question is how many believed him.

“It’s almost voodoo to try and figure out what in the world (jurors) might be thinking,” defense attorney Aaron Goldstein told reporters after closing arguments.

The jury has 11 women, who also include a bartender, school teacher and a recently laid-off marketing director.

Trying to guess how jurors will vote based on their backgrounds is an inexact science at best, legal experts warn. That the jury is largely women, they said, may or may not play in the ousted governor’s favor.

Most of the time, the jurors sat expressionless. They often took feverish notes, many seeming to fill up at least a notebook a day during six weeks of testimony. A few laughed when Blagojevich cracked a joke; others rolled their eyes.

The jurors seemed to perk up when Blagojevich talked about his children and how he had taken after his father’s penchant to dream big.

But they also seemed rapt when the lead prosecutor, Reid Schar, nearly shouted his first question of the cross-examination, asking, “Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?” Blagojevich eventually responded, “Yes.”

There are reasons to think it won’t take as long this time, said James Matsumoto, the jury foreman at the first trial who has attended much of the retrial as a spectator.

“I really think prosecutors greatly improved their chances of multiple convictions, if not on all 20 counts, than at least half,” he said.

Matsumoto voted to convict Blagojevich on all counts and said everything he’s heard at the retrial has confirmed his belief that he was right.