Blagojevich makes 1st appearance at 2nd trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Blagojevich makes 1st appearance at 2nd trial

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Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at Federal Courthouse with his wife Patti April 21, 2011 in Chicago. Jury selection began April 20. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at Federal Courthouse with his wife Patti April 21, 2011 in Chicago. Jury selection began April 20. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

CHICAGO (AP) — Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich made his first appearance at his second federal corruption trial Thursday, appearing relaxed but remaining uncharacteristically quiet as he arrived at a downtown Chicago courthouse.

Blagojevich wasn't required to appear a day earlier when potential jurors began answering written questionnaires. But Judge James Zagel wants Blagojevich in court when Zagel starts questioning jurors one by one.

The typically outspoken Blagojevich said only that he would talk "afterward" as he walked with his wife into the courthouse, where his first trial ended last year with jurors deadlocked on all but one count of lying to the FBI.

The 54-year-old still faces 20 charges, including accusations he sought to sell or trade an appointment to President Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a top job.

Blagojevich held hands with his wife, Patti, as he paused to briefly chat with a bystander before walking into Zagel's courtroom. Several minutes later, marshals led nearly 50 potential panelists inside to take an oath before individual questioning began.

Zagel's questioning of individual jurors will be aimed at determining whether any potential panelists harbor strong biases for or against Blagojevich, or followed the first trial closely. But some knowledge of the case won't automatically exclude a prospective juror if the person can assure the judge they can assess the evidence even-handedly.

The judge and attorneys hope to quickly whittle away at the large juror pool and choose a 12-person jury with several alternates by the middle of next week.

During jury selection for the first trial, Zagel dismissed several jurors on grounds of bias or because the lengthy trial would cause their families extreme hardship. One woman was dismissed after she acknowledged she had two friends who had worked in the Blagojevich administration.

Since last year's 2½-month trial, federal prosecutors have simplified their case and dropped complex charges to address concerns the evidence was too difficult to follow. Blagojevich returns with a scaled-down defense team, and he's also now the lone defendant after the government dropped all charges against his brother.

Blagojevich faces up to five years in prison for the sole conviction at the first trial. A conviction on just one offense this time could mean a decade or more behind bars.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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