Libby Judge: Valerie Plame Status Irrelevant

Judge Walton has instructed the jury that Valerie Plame’s actual status with the CIA or the degree to which any revelations made by Scooter Libby put her in danger are totally irrelevant to the facts of this case. The only issue is whether the statements he made before the grand jury were factual and his state of mind in making these statements.

This is huge, as it would seem to undermine the defense’s quite reasonable stance that misstatements about something which is not a crime is not in fact perjury, since they would not be material to the case at hand.

Update: Later in the instructions, he was more specific about the definition of “material facts” as related to the perjury charge: Those which have a “natural tendency to influence the exercise of the grand jury’s decision-making process.” It must relate to “important fact” with “capacity to influence or effect” the grand jury. “Not necessary for government to prove that the grand jury was in fact misled.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. clarice says:

    You’re right–that is very important.
    Equally important will be whether the judge puts a mens re (intention) requirement in the obstruction section. There is none in the federal law which makes it a plaything for runaway prosecutors but in Arthur Anderson the SCOTUS said intention must be read into the law (too late to save a fine accounting firm, unfortunately).

  2. ken says:

    Interesting point. It might be helpful to remember here that that is exactly why, legally, Clinton did not perjure himself.

    This point of law I always thought worth defending.