“The problem was with some of his explanations. It reminded me of a little kid who gets his hand caught in a cookie jar. He says, ‘Mommy I wasn’t taking the cookies. I was just trying to protect them and to count them.’”
— Richard Kling, professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who watched much of the trial, on Blagojevich’s testimony.
I would argue that the first major factor was the apparent lack of a holdout juror. The individual who held up the panel at the first trial was lauded by some and called a kook by others. It takes a particular personality to stand up to a group and hold one’s ground, however, there is also a fine line between impassioned defender and obstinate fruitloop.
In prior posts, I have made the case that holdouts are most often created by confused and overly detailed case presentations. It is much more difficult to stand against the group when the majority is well-armed with a solid understanding of the facts, the story and the law.
So, I believe Blago (part one) was the world’s most expensive mock trial. In Blago (part two), the prosecution presented a far more “streamlined” case that did not get hung up on the tiny details. As this article outlines, the prosecutors seemed to have learned from their mistakes and took a “less is more” approach. This was a smart move and resulted in a storyline that kept focused on Blago’s actions.
"It's all part of the streamlining decision. We're gonna keep it straight forward. We're going to keep it simple, we're going to go to the heart of the matter. Let's talk about selling the Senate seat, the sexiest stuff right up front so the jury makes up its mind early on that this guy is a crook, and the rest of the stuff will sort of fall into place behind that," said Prof. Leonard Cavise, DePaul college of Law.
Having facilitated many mock trials and focus groups, I can attest that this is the most common lesson learned from trying a case in front of mock jurors. Attorneys often find that “if everything is important, then nothing is important.” Unfortunately for Blago, the same was not true for his defense storyline.
Blogger: Matt McCusker