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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Jon Seidel

Convicted ComEd CEO’s attorney warns ‘we may be trying this case again,’ but judge won’t allow contact with jurors

Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore (right) walks into the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in the Loop for the ComEd bribery trial. (Pat Nabong/Sun-Times)

An attorney for convicted former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore on Tuesday told the judge who presided over her lengthy trial that there’s a “significant chance that we may be trying this case again” as he made a pitch to question the jurors who heard it the first time. 

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber denied the request from attorney Scott Lassar during a brief telephone hearing. Jacqueline Jacobson, an attorney for ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, joined Lassar in making the request.

Afterward, Lassar told the Sun-Times he was referring to possible rulings by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, or even the U.S. Supreme Court, when he told the judge about the possibility of a rerun of the lengthy ComEd bribery trial. In his comments to the judge, Lassar also said the case could be tried again “with different jury instructions.”

Pramaggiore’s attorney Scott Lassar speaks with the press after Anne Pramaggiore and three former political power players were found guilty at Dirksen Federal Courthouse, Tuesday, May 2, 2023. (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

It’s another signal that, despite the resounding guilty verdicts early this month against Pramaggiore, Hooker, former ComEd lobbyist Michael McClain and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty, the case isn’t over. 

Lawyers are likely to take the case to the 7th Circuit once the defendants are sentenced by Leinenweber. The sentencing hearings have been set for January.

Meanwhile, former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan faces trial in April on a separate but related racketeering indictment. McClain is charged in that case, as well.

A jury of seven women and five men on May 2 convicted McClain, Pramaggiore, Hooker and Doherty of a nearly decade-long conspiracy to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd. Central to the case was the claim that they funneled $1.3 million to five Madigan allies over eight years in a bid to sway Madigan as legislation crucial to ComEd moved through Springfield.

Some jurors chose to speak to reporters after the verdict, including foreperson Sarah Goldenberg and jurors Amanda Schnitker Sayers and Robert Garnes. Others declined to comment. 

Attorneys for Pramaggiore and Hooker then asked for Leinenweber’s permission to contact the jurors “to conduct jury research to inquire about the basis for the jury’s decision.” 

Federal prosecutors objected, insisting the defense attorneys were “intent upon discrediting the verdict the jurors reached.” 

Clockwise from upper left: Michael McClain, Anne Pramaggiore, Jay Doherty, John Hooker (Sun-Times)

“There is no justification for an effort to further harass a jury that faithfully completed its service, or for a fishing expedition to dredge up something — anything — to cast the jurors and their decision in a negative light,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz wrote in a court filing. 

Leinenweber sided with prosecutors during Tuesday’s brief hearing, pointing out that other defense attorneys would likely want to get involved and impose upon jurors who already devoted two months of their lives to the case. 

The judge noted that some jurors have already taken advantage of their opportunity to comment. The rest, he said, “chose not to.”

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