Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Libby Trial: Ready, Set . . . Wait

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has set the trial of I. Lewis Libby to begin on January 8, 2007.  With the two sides wrangling over discovery, the likely challenges from the media to subpoenas, and, most importantly, the procedure for release of national security information under the Classified Information Procedure Act (CIPA here), even that date might be too ambitious.  The case will likely have periods with no apparent activity and then brief, contentious eruptions involving the media and discovery issues.  An AP story (here) notes that Special Counsel Fitzgerald asserted that the government has complied with all of its discovery obligations to this point, while defense counsel Theodore Wells said there were "thousands and thousands and thousands" of pages of evidence withheld by the government -- I'm not sure if that means millions because the math is a bit fuzzy there.  Unlike most discovery issues, the disclosure of information governed by CIPA will be briefed in camera and argued in closed sessions, with few public indications of how the issues are being resolved.

Judge Walton wanted to start the trial in September, but he dashed the hopes of Democrats that its conclusion might be timed for the November mid-term elections because one of Libby's lawyers has a conflict with another trial in the fall.  For those wondering how Libby is paying for his legal defense team, an AP story (here) describes the "Scooter Libby Legal Defense Trust" as having raised $2 million to date, with a total fundraising goal of $5-6 million.  Given the level of wrangling already seen, even that figure may not be enough to cover all the lawyers. (ph)

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