Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Judge Replies to Jury Note in Libby Case

WASHINGTON — One week into their deliberations, jurors in the CIA leak trial had a question for the judge. The judge responded with a question of his own: What do you mean? Jurors passed a note to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton at the end of the day Tuesday. Walton took the bench Wednesday morning and, without saying what the question was, told attorneys he didn't understand it.

"I have some questions in my mind as to exactly what the jury is asking me," Walton said. "I'm going to send a note back to the jury indicating I'm not exactly certain what you're asking and can you please clarify."

The question could provide the first clue about the deliberations in the case of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Since getting the case last Wednesday, jurors had asked no questions, only requesting office supplies.

Defense attorney and prosecutors have reviewed the note but did not discuss it's contents. Defense attorney Theodore Wells said he and prosecutors believe they understand the note and proposed similar responses. But Walton said he wanted to be sure.

The jury was whittled to 11 members this week when one woman was dismissed for reading or seeing something about the case over the weekend.

Libby faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, though he would be likely to get far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.


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