Libby Trial: Jury Finalized, Oral Arguments Tuesday

The Scooter Libby jury is set, with nine women and three men on the principal jury and three women and one man sitting as alternate jurors, after a day in which the court was mostly in recess owing to scheduling snafus.

AP’s Michael Sniffen, in conjuction with Matt Apuzzo, reports on the unusual composition of those who survived the extended process:

In a city where blacks outnumber whites more than 2-to-1, the jury has 10 whites and two blacks. Two of the alternates are black.

The critics chosen to serve include a woman who works for a senior citizens agency and said, “I think Bush was not candid” about why he began the war. There is also a retired woman who worked for the Air Force, Navy and nonprofit groups and said the administration was not “forthright about the reasons for engaging in” the war. The other two were a retired math teacher who said he would have sent 500,000 troops to Iraq — about four times the number Bush sent — and a Web architect who said he questions administration credibility at times.

The jury includes a retired Washington Post reporter who once worked for Post editor Bob Woodward and was a neighbor of NBC reporter Tim Russert, both of whom are to be witnesses in the case.

Other jurors include a retired postal worker; a travel agent who only looks at newspapers for the sudoku puzzles; and a hotel sales agent who described herself a “master of all things pop culture, but nothing related to current events.”

Two female jurors had voiced personal critiques of Vice President Dick Cheney, Libby’s former boss and a likely witness. The hotel sales agent said Cheney seemed like “a responsible but slightly cold man.” A woman who works for the Health and Human Service Department said, “I’m not particularly impressed with a lot of his manners of being.” But none of them criticized administration policy.

Frankly, the vast majority of these people should have been stricken for cause. Unfortunately, because things were dragging on so slowly with reason to throw just about everyone in the pool off the jury, the judge strained to allow anyone on who did not openly admit that they couldn’t put aside their bias. There simply weren’t enough peremptory challenges to get rid of all those who had obviously pre-judged the case.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had hoped to give preliminary instructions but postponed that until Tuesday, when both sides will give opening statements. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald plans to speak for an hour, and defense attorney Theodore Wells estimated he’ll talk for two hours.

Of course, with a jury consisting mostly of people whose mind has been made up already, they could probably save themselves the breath.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ragnell says:

    I am concerned over the open discussion of careers and other descriptions of jurors the media. Some sites (firedoglake for example) are live-blogging the jury selection and giving detailed physical descriptions of the jurors. Considering that blog’s habit of encouraging its readers to “shadow” and “spy” on political targets, it won’t be much of a jump until actual names and addresses of jurors are being posted online.(for example, this comment: http://www.firedoglake.com/2007/01/19/the-manipulative-mr-mcconnell/#comment-465029) We can expect jurors and their families to be deluged with hate mail or perhaps Cindy Sheehan and her Code Pink shrews will show up to protest on their doorstep.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Ragnell,

    It’s an interesting point. I’ve been pretty careful to be vague in describing the jurors–just enough to give some insight into what kind of person they are without giving too many clues as to their identity.

  3. Wickedpinto says:

    disgraceful. Since the laws are federal, can’t they shift jurisdiction to another court that isn’t so closely related to the political BS that fly’s around?

  4. Ragnell says:

    James,
    My comment was directed at some of the left wing blogs that have been giving more detailed physical descriptions. I agree that your generalized descriptions are in the safe zone.

    However, any determined group will be able to identify them by name before long. I wouldn’t put it past some of them to follow the jurors home. Considering previous actions by some of our on-line loonies; can anyone doubt what they will do with that information. Eventually, it may be a problem for the judge to handle.