CommunityFDL Main Blog

More Notes From The Jury


This just in:

The Libby jury delivered two notes containing questions when they were excused today. Both notes will be available on the public docket later today. Court will convene at 9 a.m. on Monday March 5 to address the notes. Thank you.

Nothing is showing up as yet on PACER, at least not that I am seeing. That's two notes. From the Libby jury.

And we'll be back with live coverage on Monday. You know what I know at the moment.

UPDATE:  The text of the two notes is as follows.  The first note:

As count I statement 3 (pages 63 & 64) do not contain quotes, are we supposed to evaluate the entire Libby transcripts (testimony) or would the court direct us to specific pages/lines.

Thank you.

And note 2:

We would like clarification of the term "reasonable doubt." Specifically, is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event in order to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jeralyn has the notes up at TalkLeft, so you can see them in their handwritten glory, and says she'll have some thoughts on them shortly.

Here's my quick take:  You almost always get to a point where the jury has a question about reasonable doubt.  This is because most jurors get to a point in their deliberations where their mind goes "holy crap!  I may be putting another human being in jail.  What if I'm wrong to do so?  What if I let this guy go and he commits some other crime — how will I live with myself?  Arrrgg, the pressure…I just want to do the right thing."  Or, at least, I presume that is what jurors are thinking, because that's what I was thinking sometimes as a prosecutor.  Even when you have a defendant that you are positive is guilty as sin — not just in this particular case but in a bunch of other cases, you still have that twinge of "is putting this person in a hole in prison appropriate."  It's called having a conscience, and that makes lowering the hammer difficult.

So you almost always reach a point, right before the jury makes it's decisions, where they have questions about reasonable doubt.

Here's the thing about it, though:  this isn't the sort of thing where, like when you were a kid, you can sit around and say to yourself "well, if Superman were to fly over the building, save Lois Lane and fight off Lavaman with one hand, would it be possible for him to strangle Lex Luthor with the other if Lois were holding onto his neck?"  Reasonable doubt is just what it says — REASONABLE.  Not beyond all doubt.  Not beyond any doubt you could possibly conjure up in your brain that would never happen in a billion years.  It has to be reasonable.

Judge Walton probably has some standard way that he deals with this particular question — because, as I said, most criminal juries get to it eventually — and we'll learn what that is on Monday.

The question regarding whether a certain thing was within quotes or outside of quotes?  I'm going to hazard a guess that one of the Ph.D.'s on the jury has headed into the weeds.  (Not to say that lawyers aren't perfectly capable of weediness, too, mind you, but that seems like such an academia construct, doesn't it?  Maybe it's just me, on a Friday afternoon with a tired mind…)  And that, come Monday, their heads will have cleared and they will all realize that they are thinking to much about minutiae.  And I'm wondering if Judge Walton's response might be to sequester them come Monday, to speed that along a bit.

Those are my thoughts.  What do you guys think?

Previous post

A look inside the untethered mind of a hate crimes legislation opponent

Next post

The "Radical" Russ Show (Beta)

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com