Fitzgerald Spends Three Hours With Grand Jury

CBS reports that Fitzgerald and his deputies spent three hours with the Valerie Plame grand jury today. I suspect he was presenting Viveca Novak's deposition to them, which was probably taken at her lawyer's office. Maybe now that she has testified under oath, she will write a more detailed article about her involvment or lack thereof. [Update: Novak is going to testify tomorrow at a deposition.]

In related RoveGate news, the Washington Post has a very detailed portrait of Rove lawyer Robert Luskin. He says a few times he thinks Rove will be exonerated. I like what I read about Luskin, and I never joined the bandwagon of critics who have said he talked too much or indiscriminately to the media in defending Rove, but I wonder why he thinks Rove isn't facing charges for lying to investigators in the fall of 2003 before the grand jury was convened.

Jane is not impressed with the Luskin interview.

Update: Lawrence O'Donnell weighs in at Huffpo.

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    Re: Fitzgerald Spends Three Hours With Grand Jury (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    What is he GOING to say, that he thinks Rove is toast? Not much of an interview. Sure he's a decent guy with a sharp legal mind, but he's still got that client around his neck in this case.

    Jeralyn, I share your view that many of the left blogs have been too hard on Luskin. I also think he has a tough client who may be calling many of the shots on the PR side. I'm curious about your views on Luskin's acceptance of gold bars as payment for legal fees. On the one hand, it showed pretty poor judgment, if only for appearances sake. On the other hand, the government's use of the forfeiture laws with respect to legal fees has been expanding, and I think that is a bad sign for the rights of defendants. I fear that RICO forfeiture actions may some day be used to prevent political groups from using the courts to resist government oppression. What do you think?

    Re: Fitzgerald Spends Three Hours With Grand Jury (none / 0) (#3)
    by BigTex on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:46 PM EST
    Grandpa, if I may answer. Rico has been applied to pro-life demonstrators. Oral arguments were set for Nov 30 this year. Case #04-1352.

    Grampa, after reading your comment I read the court decisions on the gold bars case. There were numerous decisions on it, all very complicated. I don't think Luskin did anything wrong. Luskin (and others) represented the defendant on direct appeal. Luskin chose to settle with the Government and give some money back when asked. Some of the other lawyers fought. The court ended up holding that legal fees up through trial could be retained by the lawyers because until the defendant was convicted they couldn't be charged with knowledge that he would be convicted. Even after that, some of the lawyers kept fighting and ultimately lost on the post-conviction fees. But Luskin didn't take it that far. Back in the early 90's when the trial occurred, the law was not as well settled on taking attorneys' fees. It's still a murkey area. The charge in Luskin's client's case was a criminal forfeiture charge, not a civil forfeiture charge. Criminal forfeitures are dependent upon a conviction at trial or by guilty plea. Luskin may have entered the appeal believing that while the conviction was being challenged on direct appeal it wasn't final and therefore the forfeiture was premature. It's not clear from the opinions whether he accepted the fees after a restraining order against the client issued at the sentencing/forfeiture hearing or before. I do know from reading the opinion in the appeal he brought that he raised every conceivable issue, beginning with the arrest and extradition of the defendant and concluding with the sentencing and forfeiture issues. I'd say the defendant got his money's worth and their wasn't an issue of overcharging of fees. There's nothing illegal per se about taking gold bars for fees.

    Thanks, Jeralyn. It's also my understanding that he gave up only about a third of his fees in the settlement. A lot of fellow bloggers act as if he's a money launderer. In my mind, the larger issue is the potential for abuse of the forfeiture laws, as well as the consequences of that abuse. Nobody has a problem forcing a defense lawyer to give back stolen stereos that his client used to pay his fee. The problem comes when defendants are denied the ability to engage a quality attorney because the government alleges all their resources are tainted. I see this as particularly worrisome in the RICO context, because, as pointed out by BigTex, RICO might be used against political groups.