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Judge To Release Tape Of Libby GJ Testimony

From a rapturous Associated Press:

Tapes of Libby Testimony to Be Released

By PETE YOST 02.05.07

Audio recordings of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby’s secret grand jury testimony will be released publicly after they are presented at his trial, the judge at Libby’s trial ruled Monday.

In a victory for the news media, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said he had little choice but to make them public under the law as applied in the federal court system in Washington, D.C, even though he has concerns about releasing the recordings while the case is under way.

Libby is charged with perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI in an indictment that focuses in part on his statements to a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the CIA identity of Valerie Plame.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald successfully fought to enter the tapes into evidence and plans to play about eight hours of Libby’s closed-door testimony.

Although segments of Libby’s testimony would be widely distributed by reporters who are monitoring the trial, Libby’s lawyers had argued that the audio itself was too sensitive to be released until the trial ends.

One of Libby’s lawyers, William Jeffress, said that playing sound bites of the defendant’s grand jury appearances in a public setting "seriously threatens Mr. Libby’s right to a fair trial."

From the news media’s perspective, "it’s great stuff," Jeffress told the judge in asking that the recordings not be released during the trial.

Media attorney Nathan Siegel said publicly releasing the grand jury recordings during the trial is hardly "some novel proposition."

Siegel, representing The Associated Press and more than a dozen other news organizations, argued that Libby’s own words are far less prejudicial than evidence that has been released in other cases, including 911 calls from inside the World Trade Center, the FBI tapes in the Abscam investigation and mob wiretap tapes.

Jeffress argued that the news media will undoubtedly issue commentary to accompany any excerpts it plays from the audio recordings of Libby’s grand jury testimony.

Libby’s lawyer pointed to the potential for jurors to be exposed to the recordings outside the courtroom, since they are away from the court three days a week and ride back and forth to the courthouse.

"I have my concerns," Walton said, adding that cases in the federal judicial circuit covering Washington, D.C., point to disclosure of the material rather than waiting until the trial is over

What is the precedent for this?

Do all the rules go out the window for a Republican?

Libby’s lawyer pointed to the potential for jurors to be exposed to the recordings outside the courtroom, since they are away from the court three days a week and ride back and forth to the courthouse. "I have my concerns," Walton said…

Well, as long as Judge Walton "has concerns" it’s all right.

Siegel, representing The Associated Press and more than a dozen other news organizations, argued that Libby’s own words are far less prejudicial than evidence that has been released in other cases, including 911 calls from inside the World Trade Center, the FBI tapes in the Abscam investigation and mob wiretap tapes.

None of which was grand jury testimony, was it Mr. Siegel?

If only our watchdog media were this concerned about matters of real national security. Like Sandy Berger’s theft and destruction of 9/11 documents.

But Mr. Berger is a Democrat. He works for the media’s bosses.

By the way, Judge Walton’s autobiography makes for some interesting reading.

From the Justice Policy Institute:

Hon. Reggie B. Walton

When Reggie Walton was born in 1949, his father, Theodore Walton, was a steel worker like so many Donora residents, and his mother, Ruth Walton, was a housewife. Walton came from an intact family, which was plunged into financial stress when the local steel mill closed in 1960, and his father was laid off…

Since these were the days before food stamps, Walton remembers his family relying on surplus food provided by the government and what his father grew on a piece of land he had cleared. Reggie Walton was working by the time he was 10, selling newspapers on a street corner from 7:00 to 11:30. He later took a 4:30 a.m. paper job along with an after school paper job working both from the time he was 12-years-old until he graduated from high school. Between football practice and work, “I didn’t get a lot of sleep during those days,” he says with a smile

Walton’s machismo manifested itself in fighting on more than one occasion. And, on more than one occasion, the police got involved…

Ironically, although Walton readily admits to his involvement in the fights for which he appeared in court, his first encounter with the police was for a crime he did not commit… Walton says with a smile. “The only reason I was detained is because I was a young black male.”

Walton’s first two real encounters with the law – in the ninth and eleventh grades – were for fighting… The principle benefit I derived from the juvenile system was the confidentiality of my record, which meant that my youthful indiscretions didn’t prevent me from getting a football scholarship to college or from becoming a lawyer.” As a high school junior, Walton discovered his father’s guns and his straight razor and started sneaking them out of the house tucked into his pants…

Despite his troubles with the law, and his minimal academic performance in high school, Walton continued to excel on his high school’s football team as its starting halfback. His play on the gridiron resulted in athletic scholarship offers to a number of colleges, including West Virginia State College, which he ultimately attended.

But not before one final serious crime nearly derailed his career and his life, and threatened the life of another… “We had heard that there were some guys up at the projects, messing with some of our girls,” Walton remembers. “So we all piled into a truck to find them and teach them a lesson.”

Walton assumed that they were just going to rough these guys up and leave it at that. But when they tracked one of the kids down and started beating him up, one of the boys Walton was with took out an ice pick and started stabbing the unsuspecting boy. Although he was stabbed nine times, the victim did not die, partly because Walton and a friend rushed him to a hospital. The victim had nine puncture wounds in his back and a broken nose and jaw

The next day, the police questioned Walton, who was deliberately vague about his involvement in the beating. At the time, his cousin, Ronnie Neal, was in town for a visit. Walton and Neal left town the next day for Middletown, New York… “I saw my whole future flash before my eyes at that time,” Walton relates. “It really had a profound effect on me.” …

Walton struggled at first in college, not so much due to lack of ability – as subsequent achievements would attest – but because he had never focused on academics until attending college. But he worked hard and made Dean’s List in his senior year. Still, with a poor showing on the law boards, his chance of attending law school appeared slim.

Fortunately, he was enrolled in a program established by the federal government, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), which was specifically designed to increase the number of black attorneys, who constituted about only 2 percent of America’s lawyers at that time.

In 1971, CLEO sent Walton to an intensive summer-long program at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C. He graduated near the top of the class, earning an academic scholarship to American University’s Washington College of Law. Law school did not come easy for Walton, who had to study 12 to 13 hours a day, in addition to the various jobs he worked to supplement his scholarship and loans. He graduated in 1974 and took a job as a public defender in Philadelphia. He left that job for a position at D.C.’s United States Attorney’s office in 1976.

Walton’s rise in the legal profession from that point can only be described as meteoric

Right. He’s a regular Learned Hand.

But gosh, he had a paper route as a kid.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, February 5th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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