Libby Judge Grants Jury Early Leave

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By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 1, 2007; 5:15 PM

WASHINGTON -- Jurors in the perjury trial of ex-White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby have much work to do and expect to deliberate into next week.

They asked U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton for a dictionary and more office supplies and asked to leave early on Friday for the weekend. Walton denied the request for the dictionary but told jurors they could take off at 2 p.m. Friday.

"So I assume they will not have a verdict tomorrow either," Walton told lawyers as jurors finished their seventh day of deliberations.

Before bringing the jurors into court, Walton advised lawyers they "will not be happy about coming into court because they don't think they are dressed appropriately."

He said that's why they decided not to come into court Monday for a brief discussion and how "I knew there wasn't a verdict" coming Thursday. About half were wearing blue jeans, but most smiled broadly when Walton granted their request to leave early Friday.

Earlier in the day, it appeared the seven women and four men were handcrafting their own visual aids to help sort out the complicated case.

Jurors asked for a large flip chart, masking tape, Post-it notes and pictures of the witnesses almost immediately after beginning deliberations last week. Late Wednesday afternoon, they emerged to ask the judge for large, easel-sized pages that can be stuck on walls.

The note, which was released Thursday morning, was brief and offered no clues about the jury's deliberations.

"We would like another big Post-it pad," the jury foreman wrote. "The large one for the easel."

Walton said he denied the dictionary request _ not an uncommon one for juries _ because definitions of common words can have legal implications. He told jurors if they had questions, they could ask him directly.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is accused of obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents and a grand jury investigating the 2003 leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of a prominent Iraq war critic.

The deliberations began after 14 days of testimony and exhibits. The trial focused heavily on one week in June 2003 and lawyers on each side used computerized timelines to highlight important events. Jurors may be trying to reconstruct their own timeline from witness testimony that sometimes was conflicting.

Jurors have offered few clues about their progress. The asked only one substantive question _ involving Libby's discussions with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper _ but apparently resolved it themselves before the judge could answer.

Libby faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all five charges. He would likely get far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.

___

Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.


© 2007 The Associated Press

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