Lawyers for 2 convicted in ComEd bribery trial ask for permission to speak to jurors

Attorneys for former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker filed a motion in U.S District Court, asking for an order granting them permission to speak to the panel of seven women and five men who last week found them guilty on every count.

SHARE Lawyers for 2 convicted in ComEd bribery trial ask for permission to speak to jurors
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Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, right, leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after being found guilty of bribery conspiracy, Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Lawyers for former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker want to speak to the jurors who found them guilty of a nearly decade-long conspiracy to bribe former House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Attorneys filed a motion on Wednesday in U.S District Court, 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 last week found them and two others — Madigan friend and confidante Michael McClain and one-time City Club President Jay Doherty — guilty on every count of an indictment handed down in November 2020.

“Ms. Pramaggiore and Mr. Hooker seek to conduct jury research to inquire about the basis for the jury’s decision,” the attorneys wrote.

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Ex-ComEd lobbyist John Hooker leaves the Dirksen Federal Courthouse after being found guilty of bribery conspiracy, Tuesday, May 2, 2023.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The motion cites a Chicago Sun-Times story in which three jurors, including forewoman Sarah Goldenberg, said jurors believed that money and jobs funneled by ComEd to Madigan associates “went beyond goodwill to ‘intent to influence.’”

Hours after the verdict was reached, Goldenberg also told the Sun-Times that Madigan “had a heavy hand in how this corruption and coercion took place.”

Another juror — Amanda Schnitker Sayers — critiqued the defense argument of “that’s just politics.”

“The argument that the defense did very well — to try to prove that this was all the normal course of business — did not sit well with us,” Schnitker Sayers said. “And as far as politics goes, this is also, I hope this is not how all politics runs, certainly as a citizen of this state.”

Jurors were told they could speak to members of the media should they choose. Schnitker Sayers approached a media area in the Dirksen Federal Courthouse shortly after the verdict was reached.

Another juror, Robert Garnes, a 65-year-old resident of Westmont, told the Sun-Times he was struck by how Madigan was a “a very calculating person.”

Lawyers noted in the motion that three jurors had already spoken to the media, “which indicates that they may be willing to speak to counsel as well.” The attorneys said they would agree to any limitations on communicating with the jurors — and if granted permission, they would make it clear that jurors have no obligation to speak to them.

In dismissing jurors after six weeks of testimony and five days of deliberations, Leinenweber told them they were free to talk about the case publicly if they wished to.

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.

The defendants all face potentially significant prison sentences. Scott Lassar, a former Chicago U.S. attorney who represented Pramaggiore, told reporters last week “we are disappointed with the verdict and we plan to appeal.”

Sentencing dates for the defendants were set last week, with McClain to be sentenced Jan. 11, Pramaggiore on Jan. 16, Hooker on Jan. 25 and Doherty on Jan. 30.

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