Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Toobin on Libby Verdict

On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin discussed Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prospects:

In a way, the fact that the jury did not convict Libby of all the counts will make the verdict that much harder to overturn on appeal. Because the appellate court will obviously see that this is a jury that looked very carefully at the evidence, that didn't just walk in there and convict him because they didn't like Republicans or they didn't like President Bush. They meticulously went through the evidence. And those kind of verdicts are harder to overturn on appeal than simply an across-the-board set of convictions.
He suggested that Libby's best bet might be to delay prison until after the 2008 election, since a pardon is most likely after the President is a lame duck. Toobin: Presidential pardon may be on Libby agenda, CNN.com, March 6, 2007.

While I was looking for that story, I came across: Libby jury asked to explain 'reasonable doubt' question, CNN.com, March 5, 2007. "The jurors asked whether it would have to be "not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event" for them to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

( Aside: I suspect juror uncertainty over "reasonable doubt" is common. I was on a jury in municipal court once that deadlocked because of it. A man accused of possessing stolen property said that he bought a brand new Eddie Bauer down coat from a stranger on the street for some ridiculously low amount, but he didn't know it was stolen. He was arrested after he went to the store to exchange it the next day. The prosecution presented strong evidence that the coat had been stolen the afternoon that he said he bought it. Four jurors were willing to convict, but two said they had reasonable doubt, because you can never truly know what is in someone else's mind, so we couldn't know that he knew the coat was stolen.)

This week Toobin in The New Yorker addresses the question: why did it take the jury 10 days to convict Lewis "Scooter" Libby when the evidence was so clear? Comment: Verdicts, New Yorker, March 19, 2007.
No one except Libby was proved to be lying to investigators. And Libby has not said that anyone told him to perjure himself. Still, in a moral sense, if not a legal one, it was clear that the business of discrediting the Wilsons was a group undertaking, and it’s therefore easy to see why the jury struggled with laying blame for the whole operation on Libby. One juror, Denis Collins, said after the trial that he agreed with the defense claim that Libby was a "fall guy" for Cheney, among others, but Collins also thought that Libby was guilty; under the circumstances, both conclusions made sense.
Thanks: Pamela Gregory

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