Friday, January 12, 2007
The upcoming trial of I. Lewis Libby promises to be the biggest political trial since the impeachment proceeding of President Clinton, and U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has set forth the ground rules for the proceeding in an order available below (courtesy of TalkLeft). Among the issues treated in the order are seating arrangements in the gallery, what types of equipment may and may not be brought into the courtroom (e.g. no camera-equipped cell phones), and when everyone has to be seated or lose their spot. Judge Walton has imposed a gag order on the attorneys for the government and Libby: "The Court expects counsel not to make comments to the media. The Court will not tolerate any attempts to have this case tried in the media." That's no fun. Unlike some other districts, the District of Columbia does not prohibit contact with jurors after the trial is completed, although the order notes that "they are not obligated to do so and there must not be further attempts to talk to jurors who have indicated a desire not to have such discussions."
On the subject of the media at the trial, the Washington Post reports (here) that among those who will have reserved seats in the gallery will be two bloggers. The article gives a less-than-complimentary view of bloggers, asserting that "[t]he common journalistic practices of verifying facts, seeking both sides of a story and subjecting an article to editing are honored mostly in the breach. Innuendo and rumor ricochet around the Internet as blogs link from one to another, at times making defamatory voices indistinguishable from the many others involved in this experiment of free expression." I'm sure the author would be a big fan of this blog, however.
The Houston Chronicle's trial blog by its reporters during the prosecution of Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling was an invaluable resource, with up-to-the minute reporting of the proceedings and discussion of the courtroom atmosphere that went beyond what would appear in most newspaper articles. Let's hope that the bloggers and the rest of the media live up to that standard in their reporting. (ph)