Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Quote Of The Day: Scooter Scooting? Edition

“We would like clarification of the term ‘reasonable doubt. 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?”
-- Note to judge from Libby jury

Asking for clarification of "reasonable doubt" is not too far removed from asking for clarification that God created the universe. The courts have struggled with a definition since the inception of the concept, as is evidenced from the NYT's report on Judge Reggie Walton's instructions to the Libby jury:

In his instructions to the Libby jury, Judge Walton said, “A reasonable doubt, as the name implies, is a doubt based on reason.”

He also said that “if after careful, honest and impartial consideration of all the evidence, you cannot say that you are firmly convinced of the defendant’s guilt, then you have a reasonable doubt.”

He also noted, however, that “the government is not required to prove guilt beyond all doubt or to a mathematical certainty or to a scientific certainty.”

It appears, based on these instructions, that Walton will answer the jury on Monday that no, the prosecution is not required to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to remember something in order to meet the "reasonable doubt" standard.

That would argue for a guilty verdict -- but the fact that many witnesses against Libby also were guilty of faulty memories argues against such a finding.

It's clear the jury is split and it's unlikely that, given the instructions he's already provided, anything Walton says on Monday will unsplit that split.

Prediction: Mistrial.

Next question: Will the special prosecutory then drop the case?

Prediction: Given that this whole trial appears driven by noting more than prosecutorial vanity, no.

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