Libby Trial: Peremptory Challenges
We’re ready to kick off the peremptory challenge phase of jury selection in the Libby trial. The government and defense will alternate in announcing strikes (by juror seat number) of the main jury pool and then the alternate jury pool.
This led to a rather confusing discussion as to who was who, with the judge and virtually every attorney in the court having a different conception of how the rule (Rule 24) requiring peremptory strikes from the main pool and alternate pool separately is actually applied. The discussion has not alleviated said confusion, either in the courtroom or the media room.
The confusion is particularly important to the defense team which, during this morning’s voir dire, operated under the presumption than after the first 28, all the others were only potential alternate jurors. Judge Walton responded that there was no reason to operate under that assumption but that, in the interest of fairness, he would re-open question for for-cause challenges.
[Update: FDL’S emptywheel has an exhaustive play-by-play on this.]
After a sidebar, they decided to give the defense 20 minutes to figure out how to proceed. The intent is to get the peremptories in this afternoon, a process that usually takes about an hour.
UPDATE: They reconvened for about 30 seconds at 3:30 with Judge Walton asking any of the assembled potential jurors whether anything had changed since they answered their questionnaires last week. Two of the 36 raised their hands. The ominous static is back while they conference to see what the nature of these changes might be.
After about eight minutes, a woman in a green dress was excused from the pool for unspecified reasons.
They finally started with peremptories at 3:55. It looks like it’s going to go fast. Interestingly, the courtroom deputy is simply announcing jurors one at a time and telling them to either take seat X in the jury box or to “sit to the right of the courtroom.” The latter means they’re struck. Not particularly dramatic.
Now I see why the regular judicial reporters were so obsessive about keeping track of the juror numbers: It’s the only way to see which ones are being struck, since we’re not seeing their faces or otherwise given a clue as to who they are.
Judging from the reaction of the others in the media room, Moveon.org guy, the Israeli MIT guy, someone who said they read InstaPundit frequently, and a few others with identifiable ideologies have been struck.