Thursday, January 18, 2007

Voir Dire in Scooter Libby Case

The trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby got started Tuesday, with the just conducting voir dire of potential jurors by reading questions the prosecution and defense had agreed on. Four of the questions concerned beliefs about memory -- is it like a tape recorder? Can anyone honestly say something and be mistaken? 38 Questions Used To Screen Potential Jurors in Libby Case, Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2007, at A17. Other questions concerned politics, e.g.,

"Do any of you have feelings or opinions about the Bush administration or any of its policies or actions, whether positive or negative, that might affect your ability to give a former member of the Bush administration a fair trial?"
Jurors Questioned About War, Memory as Libby Trial Opens, Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2007, at A3.

Thanks to Stephanie Knightlinger, who says this is a timely topic for Trial Ad II students, who cover jury selection next week.

Update (Jan. 19): Mindy Ater wrote, "Here' an interesting article related to voir dire, which was posted on the Evidence webpage... " She included an article: Lying Juror and Prison Movie May Reverse Death Row Conviction, New York Lawyer (reprinted from The Recorder), Nov. 21, 2006. I'm just going to summarize it because I'm cautious about reprinting entire articles without permission.

The jury foreman in a capital case allegedly lied during voir dire, saying that neither he nor anyone in his family had committed crimes when in fact he had two felony convictions.

Moreover, he urged fellow jurors to watch a movie about prison gangs, implying that the defendant, if given a life sentence, would kill someone in prison and therefore ought to be sentenced to death.

On habeas review, the California Supreme Court ordered the director of corrections to show why the conviction should not be reversed because of these improprieties.

The case is Boyette on habeas corpus, S092356. I didn't find a published opinion on the California courts website -- just a one-sentence summary of the disposition.

If you want to read the whole article, it's on Westlaw, with the title "Prison Movie May Undo Case.")

Thanks for the lead, Mindy!

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