Published March 05, 2007
WASHINGTON – A federal judge said he'd ask jurors to clarify their question about reasonable doubt Monday as deliberations continued in the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Libby is accused of lying about how he learned the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame and whom he discussed it with in 2003. Libby says any inaccuracies in his statements were the result of his faulty memory.
Jurors have been deliberating since Feb. 22. As they left for the weekend Friday, they passed U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton a note.
"We would like clarification of the term 'reasonable doubt,"' jurors wrote. "Specifically, is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event in order to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said jurors were asking whether the government was required to prove guilt beyond all doubt. He said the answer simply should be "No." But Walton said he wasn't sure that's what jurors were asking. Libby's attorneys said if something is humanly possible, it is reasonable.
"Humanly possible is just a nebulous term," Walton said. "They might be asking whether the government has to prove guilt beyond all doubt. I don't know."
The five charges against Libby carry a combined top penalty of 30 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines would call for a far shorter sentence — possibly one to three years — even if he were convicted of all five counts.