- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CHICAGO | Jurors deliberating for an 11th day in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested Wednesday that they may be deadlocked on some counts.

The jury sent a note to Judge James B. Zagel saying they have made “a reasonable attempt” to reach a unanimous decision and did so without rancor, but asked for guidance if they can’t reach a unanimous decision on any given count.

Judge Zagel, who read the note aloud in court, said he would send a message back to jurors asking them to be clearer about what they meant so that he could advise them.

Michael Ettinger, the attorney for former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s brother - co-defendant Robert Blagojevich - said neither the judge nor attorneys in court understood exactly what the note meant.

“We don’t know what it means. The judge doesn’t know what it means,” Mr. Ettinger said. He said the jurors had gone home for the day, and the judge would have another hearing at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Mr. Ettinger said he doesn’t think the jury is confused about the law or about the jury instructions. He thinks they’re hung, he said.

“A hung jury is better than a conviction,” he said.

Joel Levin, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said it’s likely that jurors have reached a verdict on at least some counts.

“If they hadn’t reached a verdict on anything, I would have expected some language saying that,” he said.

Since the jurors began deliberations, they’ve sent two previous notes to the judge.

Mr. Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to 24 counts, including charges of trying to sell or trade an appointment to President Obama’s vacated Senate seat for a Cabinet post, private job or campaign cash. If convicted, he could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison, though he is sure to get much less time under federal guidelines.

His brother, Nashville, Tenn., businessman Robert Blagojevich, 54, also has pleaded not guilty to taking part in such a scheme.

At the trial, prosecutors relied heavily on wiretap tapes in which Mr. Blagojevich spewed profanity and speculated about getting a Cabinet job in exchange for the Senate seat. Defense attorneys argued that Mr. Blagojevich was a big talker, but never committed a crime.

Not much is known about the jury, except that it includes a math teacher, a retired public health official, a former Marine injured serving in the Middle East, a Navy veteran, an avid marathon runner and a man born in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Judge Zagel prohibited the release of the jurors’ names until after the verdict.