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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Tina Sfondeles

Federal prosecutors urge judge to block defense efforts to contact ComEd jurors, call it a ‘fishing expedition’

Clockwise from upper left, Michael Madigan confidante Michael McClain, former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, one-time City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty and ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker. (Sun-Times)

Federal prosecutors are urging a federal judge to block efforts by attorneys for two people convicted in the ComEd bribery trial to contact jurors, calling the attempt a “fishing expedition to dredge up something.”

Lawyers for former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker filed a motion Wednesday asking U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber for an order granting them permission to speak to the panel of seven women and five men who found them and two others — Michael J. Madigan friend and confidante Michael McClain and one-time City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty — guilty of bribery conspiracy and falsification of business records.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Schwartz filed a response on Friday, arguing the appropriate action is “not to authorize the defendants to hound this jury — a move that no doubt will send a public message that jury service is something to be avoided.”

“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,” Schwartz wrote. “The motion should therefore be denied.”

Schwartz argued that defense attorneys’ claims that they are simply conducting “juror research” are false, since Scott Lassar, an attorney for Pramaggiore, has already said he plans to appeal.

Schwartz wrote, “They are intent upon discrediting the verdict the jurors reached — indeed, one of them has already announced their intention to challenge the decision reached by the jurors on appeal.”

It is not unusual for attorneys to want to speak to jurors once a trial is complete, although the communication usually happens shortly after the verdict is announced.

Schwartz noted the request was made “well after the verdict and would only be done in the presence of defense counsel” and that there has been no agreement that whatever they may learn from jurors won’t be included in post-trial filings.

Jurors found all four defendants guilty on all counts after six weeks of testimony and five days of deliberations — and the defendants face potentially significant prison sentences.

Leinenweber told jurors they were free to talk about the case publicly should they choose to. So far, three jurors have spoken to the media.

Jury forewoman Sarah Goldenberg told the Sun-Times Madigan “had a heavy hand in how this corruption and coercion took place.” Another juror, Robert Garnes, a 65-year-old resident of Westmont, called Madigan “a very calculating person.”

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