Who Will Deliver for Fitz?

Wigmore described cross-examination as the "greatest legal invention ever invented for the discovery of truth.” (5 J. Wigmore, Evidence §1367 (J. Chadbourn rev. 1974.) Put another way, it's a great tool for ferreting out untruths in the courtroom.

It's Fitzgerald's job in the Libby case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Scooter Libby lied to federal agents and the grand jury and obstructed justice. It's the defense's job to test that proof.

Patrick Fitzgerald has placed a lot of faith in Judy Miller and Matthew Cooper and their less than perfect memories and note-taking skills. The defense chipped away at both today. There were no Perry Mason moments, but neither came across as 100% sure of what Libby told them.

Judy Miller did better today than she did yesterday, but the defense got her to acknowledge that she couldn't be 100% certain she first heard of Valerie Plame Wilson from Scooter Libby. Cooper acknowledged his notes don't back up his current memory that Libby responded with something to the effect of " I heard that too" when he asked him whether Joseph Wilson's wife had a role in selecting him for the Niger trip. Not only (more…)

Judy Miller’s Note-Triggered Memories

What a day at the Scooter Libby trial. This is what I came to Washington for — that sense of being right in the middle of the action, totally engrossed in the moment, never once looking at my watch, and when 5:00 came, wishing we didn't have to go home.

The day began slowly enough, with David Addington still on the stand and Libby lawyer Ted Wells questioning him about documents for almost two hours. Enough about that.

The main attraction, of course, was journalist and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller. She looked stunning, very pretty and impeccably groomed. The reporters in the courtroom all turned to watch her stride into the courtroom, chin up. Her lawyer, Washington powerhouse Bob Bennett, took a seat behind the Government's table. She was calm as she took the stand.

Fitzgerald did a crisp and clean direct examination, taking only 40 minutes to go through her career, how she hooked up with Libby, their meetings, her legal fight over being subpoenaed, her 85 days in jail, and her two subsequent grand jury appearances. Judy and Fitz were like a well-oiled machine. Unlike Ari who played to the jury, Judy directed her answers to Fitz, occasionally turning to the jury to explain a term, but then returning her attention to Fitz. The jury hung on to every word.

For the whole story, read Marcy's great live-blogging. Shorter version: She met with an agitated, frustrated Scooter Libby on June 23, 2003. Libby complained to her about Joseph Wilson, whom he called "that clandestine guy," and Wilson's attack on the Administration's WMD claims, which he called "an irrelevant ruse." During this off-the-record meeting, Libby told her Wilson's wife worked in "the Bureau" which at first she interpreted as being the F.B.I., but then figured out he meant the C.I.A. and its non-proliferation division.

They met again on July 8, spending two hours in the dining room of the St. Regis hotel. Libby again was agitated. They had a wide-ranging discussion on the intelligence leading up to the war, and Libby asked her to not to mention him, but to attribute his statements to a former Hill staffer. He told her Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the CIA's WINPAC, the unit focused on WMD's.  She spoke to Libby twice on the phone on July 12. He didn't tell her where he got the information about Valerie Wilson and they had no discussions about whether her status was covert.

Fitz then took her through her legal fight to avoid testifying which she said was the result of her not having received a personal, voluntary waiver from Scooter. As soon as she did, and as soon as Fitz agreed to limit her questioning to the topic of Libby, Wilson and Plame, she agreed to testify. The day after leaving jail, she went before the grand jury and told them about the July 8 meeting and July 12 calls, but had forgotten the June 23 meeting. That night, she found notes of the June 23 meeting, had Bennett call Fitz, and returned to the grand jury to describe that meeting in detail, her memory having been refreshed by her notes.

Judy, you see, has a note-triggered memory. She can forget an event even happened, but upon finding notes that it did, she remembers not only the event itself but details beyond those contained in the notes. Until she found those notes, she had zero recollection of having met with Libby on June 23, let alone what he told her. Once she reviewed her notes, she regained her independent memory of the meeting, Scooter's demeanor and his disclosures about Joseph and Valerie Wilson. (more…)

Never in His Wildest Dreams

(Many thanks to the great folk at PoliticsTV for taping the after-trial wrap-up for us.  You guys are the best!  — CHS)

It's week two in the Scooter Libby trial. Marcy has done a great job of live-blogging todays testimony. Today was my first day at the trial. I spent most of it in the courtroom, seated behind Mrs. Libby, and some in the media room. There were a lot of veteran PlameGate reporters on hand: David Corn of the Nation, David Schuster of MSNBC, Michael Isikoff of Newsweek, Byron York of the National Review and John Dickenson of Time, to name a few. Also following the action: Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News, David Stout of the New York Times, Nina Totenberg of NPR.

Being in the courtroom has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you get the big picture, being able to watch the interaction between the prosecution and defense teams, Scooter Libby and his lawyers, the jury and the Judge. You also get to see what seems of interest to the jurors, what they smile and laugh at and what doesn't faze them.

On the minus side, it was stifling hot, many of us (including the (more…)

Libby Trial: Out of the Starting Gate

the races

It's a snowy Sunday here in Denver and I'm flattered to be spending part of it writing a post for Firedoglake, as Christy makes her way to Washington and Jane continues to heal post-surgery.

Pachacutec has done a great job of live-blogging the jury selection process for you in the Scooter Libby trial. With 30 of the 36 needed prospective jurors already qualified for cause, I think we'll have a jury by Monday afternoon. It won't take long for both sides to exercise their peremptory challenges. Then what?

Then we're off to the races. Opening arguments will begin Tuesday. Looseheadprop did a nice job of explaining the process of openings for you here.

Since I've never been a prosecutor, only a defense lawyer, I can't get behind the prosecution mindset to predict Fitz's strategy for his opening statement. But I can say what I expect of Libby's defense lawyers in opening. (more…)