Thursday, January 25, 2007

Holy crap!

I've been obsessively reading about the CIA-leak case from the beginning, thank fuck, as it is way confusing. I'm not sure what piqued my interest initially- I'm completely and horribly addicted. (I have a sneaking suspicion it was because Amb. Wilson referred to his wife, former CIA agent, Valerie Plame, as "a real-life Sydney Bristow"). I know, shallow. But are you surprised?

I digress.

The team from Firedoglake are in the courtroom for the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial, and things are getting EXTREMELY interesting. Christy Hardin Smith from FDL is of the opinion that team Libby has made a rather large mistake.

Seeing as she's all whip-smart and stuff. I can't see how she's wrong.

Ted Wells, lead trial counsel for Libby, completely overstepped in making an argument regarding some handwritten notes of the government's witness, Cathie Martin. Libby's trial team had been given copies of these notes a year or more ago, but just got around to asking to see the originals of the notes this past Saturday. Wells was arguing that the copies given by the government were illegible (Fitzgerald countered that they were not and that, were there problems reading any pages, Wells' team had had a year to notify the government and request a better copy, and had failed to do so until last Saturday). Wells then argued that they had not had enough time to read the notes, due to the number of documents which needed review — Wells made a big deal about the sheer volume of documents.

Huge error.

As it turned out, the sum total of all of Cathie Martin's handwritten notes in their original form totaled less than an inch of paper, most of which were not relevant to the proceedings at all. Those documents which corresponded with the government's intended exhibit proffer were a grand total of six pages. In making an argument which was built on a foundation of very hot air, Wells lost credibility with the judge, with the government, and worse for his client, with those in the media and public gallery.

In a town where reputation and power is everything, Libby's entire legal team was diminished in a matter of minutes with this one, petty, groundless and unnecessary stunt.


All of these arguments were done outside the view and hearing of the jury, which was sequestered in the jury room at the time the motions took place. So there is no question that this misstep has prejudiced the jury in any way, since they will not hear of it from any of the members of the court. But, in all honesty, irritating a Federal judge this early in a high profile trial by stating something completely unfounded and conflating a tiny misstep (that likely was a result of some lack of preparation issue on the part of some segment of Libby's trial team) is a huge error.

And the entire episode led to Judge Walton saying this on the record in open court about Patrick Fitzgerald: you are "one of the most scrupulous prosecutors I have ever had appear before me," in response to the judge having to deal with the, by comparison, unnecessary conduct that Wells pulled over Cathie Martin's notes.

Oh, this could get ugly. *rubs hands together*

No comments: