Justice Is Done in the Case Of the Uncut Style Story

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Friday, February 9, 2007

The evidence is in: Ignoring Style can be dangerous.

The Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial was briefly thrown into a tizzy yesterday after a juror notified the judge that she had seen my article on Tim Russert's Wednesday testimony.

Federal marshals are supposed to excise all trial-related stories before the jury gets its morning papers. But The Post's Style section, it turns out, was exempted from the scissors-wielding scrutiny.

"I'm sorry to confess I didn't see the article in the Style section," Libby's lawyer, William Jeffress, said in the courtroom.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald read him the headline. Efforts were mounted to procure copies. Jeffress told U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton that the jury needed to be questioned.

One woman said she had seen the headline and accompanying photo of Russert, put down the paper and notified the nearest marshal.

Was the jury irrevocably tainted? Jeffress said he didn't have a problem with the infraction. Fitzgerald agreed. The wheels of justice began grinding again.

All of which spared me from the humiliating headline: "Style Scribe Sinks CIA Case."

-- Howard Kurtz


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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