No Verdict in Day 5 of Scooter Libby Deliberations

Update: The jury had a note at end of the day. Received by e-mail from DOJ spokesperson Randall Samborn:
The Court received a note containing a question from the jury at the end of the day today. Judge Walton will address the note with the parties in court at approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, following the conclusion of another matter the Court has scheduled at 9 a.m. The contents of the note will not be disclosed until the note is addressed in court and docketed sometime tomorrow morning.

Update: 5:05 pm ET and no verdict. Looks like everyone comes back for more waiting tomorrow.


The 11 remaining jurors are in day 5 of jury deliberations in the Scooter Libby trial. Jane and Marcy of Firedoglake are at the courthouse, as is Aldon Haynes of Orient Lodge (blogging for MediaBloggers.

Lots of people have asked me what's taking so long. I don't think this is a particularly long time yet.

I thought a very fast verdict would mean an acquittal, indicating the jury just didn't buy the Government's theory. Anything past that shows a serious deliberation of all of the evidence, which includes 8 hours of Libby grand jury testimony as well as a review of all of the trial testimony and exhibits, the jury instructions and verdict forms, and their application to the five separate charges against Libby.

Libby doesn't dispute that he misspoke to the grand jury. The jury has to figure out whether he did so because he was mistaken or whether he intentionally lied. That requires consideration of the Government's motive theory and Libby's theory of defense instruction (pdf).

I have learned you can never predict how a jury will decide a case. If deliberations go into next week, I think a fair reading is that at least one juror has a differing view from that of other jurors. But again, that doesn't signal anything about which view, guilty or not guilty, is prevailing. Also, there may be unanimity on some counts but not others.

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    I concur, and (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 11:19:01 AM EST
    I think the length of the deliberations won't qualify as "long" unless we go past this Friday.  My "bet", such as it is, has been on a verdict coming back this Friday after lunch.

    FWIW, why is Walton not keeping the alternates around the courthouse, rather than let them go home where (a) it will take a half day or longer to get them into the CH and (b) they are susceptible to all sorts of media "presence" - stuff like a TV in the post office (mine has one mounted to pacify the folks in line) playing CNN or such - injecting itself into their mindset.

    I remarked last week, I think, about a 2-month civil case I third-chaired in which the jury was out for 8 or 9 days.  In that case, the judge kept the alternate jurors in the courthouse so as to avoid media pollution and have them handy.  It turned out there were a couple of the alternates (guys) who were train buffs, so (with judicial permission) they wound up watching videos of old movies of old steam trains and trolleys for a couple of the days.  But, the point was, they were out of the media's reach, doing something innocuous and they were handy in case something hung up.  Plus, they got the benefit of the readbacks.

    Also, after the art curator got bounced, I was a little surprised there was no discussion about sequestration.  I understand the alleged difficulties of budgets and all.  But, that's a non-starter to my eyes.  To be fair, AFAIK the federal courts usually have bulk deals with local hotels in hand, in case they need them.  A few years back, a relative was summoned for jury duty in the E.D. Pa. (Phila.) even though he'd moved to Pittsburgh (W.D. Pa.) to go to college and stayed there after graduating.  The court made him serve, and put him up in a hotel with other "out of town" jurors.  Room service, too.  

    So, what are your thoughts?

    there's more to sequstration than cost. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 01:56:26 PM EST
      In fact, I think costis not something high on the list of judges. We must remember that jurors are people with families and lives who have been summoned to perform a difficult and important task and that they receive a pittance for it (some get their regular pay from jobs while serving but not all).

      Detaining people is not something that should be done unless necessary and the fact is that in the larger world this case is not receiving a level of media attention that many other  cases receive.


    UPDATE -- courtesy firedoglake.com (none / 0) (#5)
    by the rainnn on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 10:15:11 PM EST
    christy hardin smith offered this at some point
    this evening -- i just saw it -- forgive me if
    ms. merritt has posted this update elsewhere:

    **BREAKING:  The jury sent a note to Judge Walton at the end of the day today.  I've been informed that the contents of the note will be addressed in open court at 9:30 am ET tomorrow morning, following a previously scheduled matter that was already book in for 9:00 am ET.  Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.  Could be as innocuous as a question about the meaning of a jury instruction, or as substantive as a verdict or a deadlock.  We won't know anything further until tomorrow morning.  I've got this from two separate sources at the courthouse.  Hang onto your hats, kids -- and see you in the morning.  -- CHS*

    *UPDATE:  I'm told the note from the jury was a question of some sort, but nothing about the type or subject of the question.  Just FYI.  We'll find out in the morning.**

    more to sequestration (none / 0) (#3)
    by abeincicero on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 06:49:05 PM EST
    While I agree that sequestration should be used sparingly, I believe in high profile cases it is necessary.

    99.9% of the jury cases receive no media attention.  But in this case, the media is  even reporting what the jurors are wearing to deliberate.

    As hard as it is to ask the jury to be holed up in a hotel for a couple of days while deliberating, I believe it is more of a hardship to require jurors to be constantly on guard with blinders on while out of the courthouse.  No radio, no TV, no newspapers, etc.

    I would rather be in a hotel, working past 5:00 p.m., leaving it to the Court to edit out Libby references in the papers.

    Pool on the verdict date and decision? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue Feb 27, 2007 at 08:59:47 PM EST
    I'm glad the jury is taking their responsibilities seriously. There is always a LOT of information to wade through in cases like this. There's a lot on the line, and I think they understand the implications of their decision.