Libby Trial: Voir Dire Resumes

Judge Walton got things going at precisely 9:30.

I’ll live blog the morning’s voir dire below, posting anything particularly newsworthy separately.

The first candidate is a young white guy who admits to having worked against Bush (letter writing campaigns for MoveOn.org) but says he can be fair. His impressions based on the news accounts he read was that he was “surprised that’s all [Fitzgerald] found after all that time.” That got a chuckle from some in the media room, as did his admission that he was once tried for underage drinking. He grew up with a parent in the Foreign Service but has never been to Niger. He thinks Bush and company were honest but misguided in their public statements leading up to the war.

For a guy who claims to have very limited impressions about the case, he seems to have a very detailed knowledge. He knows that Bob Novak and Judith Miller are major components of the case and that Richard Armitage was the first leaker. It may just be a DC thing; that’s more than the man on the street knows. Then again, his answers seem rather lawyerly in that he’s definitely trying to not get thrown off the jury.

It apparently worked: He didn’t get thrown off for cause and they’re moving on to the next potential juror.

The second guy is a fairly young man who works in some capacity for some intelligence agenc(y/ies) as a contractor for a software company. He grew up in DC and has a masters in telecom from a prestigious local university. He seems, oddly enough, to have virtually no clue about the facts of this case, though. He pretty much just reads the business section of the paper.

They’re now at sidebar so that he can divulge which intelligence agencies he’s done work for. They’re broadcasting loud static for dramatic effect. After several minutes of this, he retook the stand and it turns out that the CIA is not among the agencies for which he worked. He says his experience with the intel community would not influence his view of the credibility of IC witnesses. He asserts that the fact he has a security clearance will not make him bring his own personal experiences into judging how classified material should be handled.

He also made it past the first round.

The third candidate is a young white woman with little interest in the news or knowledge of this case. She works at the World Bank as a project manager. She canceled her subscription to WaPo after having a baby and deciding she didn’t have time to read a newspaper.

Judge Walton asked her whether she has any relationship with World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, since he might be tangentially related to the trial as a former DoD official. She does not and that, frankly, she doesn’t follow politics at all. Someone in the media room said, “Welcome to the Libby jury.” I suspect they’re right.

The prosecutor asked her, as he did the previous candidate, how they would go about distinguishing a lie from an honest difference in recollection. She says “I don’t consider anyone a liar. That’s a pretty strong word.” She likes to see both sides.

She made it.

The fourth candidate was a middle aged black woman who grew up in DC. She thinks there’s “some possibility” Cheney and others lied about the war. She made it past the first round.

The fifth candidate is a 30-something black woman who works at a law firm. She has previously worked in the probation office in this courthouse. She tends to think disagreements over factual recollection are “honest disagreements” or “bad memory” vice dishonesty. “I don’t judge people.” She made it past the first round, too.

Candidate six is a young white guy who thinks there’s been “a lot of dishonesty” from the Bush administration and who admits that he could not give them a fair trial. He was dismissed by the judge before attorney questioning.

Candidate seven was a black woman in late middle age who was also quickly dismissed for the same reason.

Candidate eight is a 40ish white guy with partial hearing loss corrected by a hearing aid. He has many friends in the legal and intelligence community and has had access to classified information at various times in his career as a government economist (PhD, MIT).

He reads the papers regularly but mostly business and technology news. He “skimmed the headlines” about this case but has no strong impressions.

He was added, meaning we have reached the magic number of 36.

Candidate nine is a youngish black woman. The audio was briefly lost, so I don’t know what her background is. She thinks most disagreements over fact are liars. People who “played a bad part in the situation” are especially likely to lie. She was, oddly enough, not struck.

That concludes this portion. Because things went much quicker than anticipated, the judge had told the rest of the pool not to come back until 3.

We now have a 10 minute recess. It’s not clear whether the peremptories will start right away.

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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 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.