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Legal Ethics

Federal Judge Calls Blago Lawyer’s New-Trial Motion ‘Harebrained,’ Says Contempt Ruling Could Result

Posted Dec 19, 2011 12:59 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A federal judge today sharply scolded a lawyer for pointing a finger at the forewoman of a jury that convicted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in a political corruption case, reports the Chicago Tribune.

A motion signed by Lauren Kaeseberg that sought a new trial for Blagojevich based on alleged misconduct by the forewoman was "harebrained," said U.S. District Judge James Zagel.

Contrary to what the motion claims, he never told the jury that questionnaires were confidential, the judge said.

Hence, Kaeseberg owes the forewoman, Connie Wilson, an apology, he stated, for contending that she violated that nonexistent rule during a post-trial discussion with local high school students about her jury service.

Zagel also called the motion "improper," saying that it could be interpreted as implicating a bit of a "retaliatory" motive toward the juror, the newspaper recounts.

He told Kaeseberg to explain to the court, in writing, her basis for filing the motion in the Chicago case, and told her he would issue a show-cause order, concerning a possible contempt-of-court finding, if he is not satisfied with her explanation.

Zagel also told Kaeseberg he was giving her a break because she is a relatively new attorney, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

However, he scolded her at length, according to the newspaper, calling her motion "beyond my imagination" and saying that it was prepared without adequate thought. “By the absence of precedent, I assume you couldn’t find precedent,” the judge told her.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Impeached Ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Gets 14 Years in Federal Corruption Case"

Daily Herald: "Blago jury forewoman speaks to Metea students"

Updated at 1:05 p.m. to include information from the Chicago Sun-Times.

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