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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Picking Nits on a Jury

I'm going to make a prediction today, Scooter Libby will walk in his perjury trial. I say this because generally, after 8 days of deliberation, a jury ends up hung, or acquitting.

In the case of Libby, they are starting to pick nits, asking the judge for the definition of "reasonable doubt" as it relates to his memory of events leading to the Grand Jury inquest.

In the case of Libby, and that requested clarification, my guess is you'll see a hung jury by Wednesday, and a humbled Prosecutor deciding not to refile charges. Patrick Fitzgerald knows that he'll probably get the same results next time if he retries the case.

The request probably points to a few members of the panel who are voting for acquittal being pressured by those voting guilty. By asking for the clarification, the one's who want to vote guilty are (probably) trying to show the others that "reasonable doubt" doesn't mean "any doubt". The problem is, most folks in jury rooms, once they make up their minds, have a hard time changing them based on new definitions being forced on them.

In a perjury trial like this, the prosecution has to prove, beyond that subjective reasonable doubt, that Libby didn't just misspeak at a Grand Jury, but that he intentionally misspoke to them. That's pretty tough when you are talking about people who generally work 15 hour days, and meet dozens of different people and groups per week, and spend hours a day on the phone with various people.

As an example, Monday I'm visiting a company I've been to 3 times since last July. Yet I'm positive I don't know every piece of equipment they have, or all of their special configurations.

Libby is being tried for supposedly hiding exact details of 10 minute conversations 18 months prior to the Grand Jury. Go ahead, think of a 10 minute meeting at work in August 2005, and see if you can remember exactly what it was about, or exactly what you said. I know without looking at past paperwork I can't tell you what equipment I calibrated last October in that lab I mentioned, much less what I talked to their technicians about.

I think that with the reasonable doubt question coming up it shows the jury is worrying about exactly what the Fitzgerald didn't want them to, how hard do you hammer people strictly on memory. As I said at the start of this post, I think that Scooter is going to walk.

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