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Monday, October 31, 2005

Legal Round-Up

Scooter Libby's first court appearance has been scheduled for Thursday, according to Reuters. The arraignment is scheduled for 10:30 am ET, and a media circus should be pretty much predictible at this point.

An arraignment is the hearing where the accused is formally presented with the charges he faces, and is asked to enter his plea of guilty or not guilty. Expect Scooter to plead not guilty. Everyone does.

Well, everyone except this one guy I prosecuted once who had to be dragged into the corner of the courtroom by his attorney for a serious talk after he said loud and clear, "Oh, I am so guilty your honor. And I'm awful sorry for what I done." Needless to say, we worked out a plea on that one.

But I don't expect anything nearly that exciting at Libby's arraignment. Mostly its a lot of taking care of business, setting up dates for motions hearings, and such, and delivering the first round of discovery from the US Attorney to whomever is helming Libby's defense these days. A trial date could also be set, but I'm not expecting it this early -- that will likely come down the line a bit.

also says the following:
Libby, who was charges with obstructing justice, perjury and making false statements and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years, has promised a vigorous defence.

As part of his strategy, Libby is expected to argue that any incorrect information he provided to federal investigators or the grand jury was the result of lapses in memory, rather than intentional lies, according to Libby's lawyer and other attorneys involved in the case.
First, the sentencing guidelines do not, I believe, come anywhere near a 30 year sentence for these offenses. I admit, I'm rusty at doing a sentencing guidelines calculation since it has been several years since I've done federal defense representation.

But my preliminary glance at the voluminous material that you have to go through to make a calculation puts the sentence in the six and a half to nine year range, according to my read on things.

There have been competing theories on the guidelines calculations, most notably in a couple of detailed and very enlightening diaries on DailyKos, from people who do Federal defense work every day. Take a read
here and here for a truly illuminating glimpse into how complex just advising your client on sentencing exposure can be. (And I want to note that the first of the links came up with the same range on the guidelines as I did, so we may have a Fitzmas miracle on our hands.)

And the memory lapse defense? Erm....I'd work on that if I were Scooter.

Additionally, I somehow missed David Fiderer's article in the HuffPo on IIPA and Victoria Toensing last week. No idea how I missed it, because it's hilarious in its description of how Toensing loses it when Dan Abrams dared to question her veracity in answering questions about the subject. Mwahaha.
TOENSING: Because the CIA has to take affirmative measures to hide her identity. And if when told that it's going to be published and they shrug . . .
ABRAMS: But it doesn't have to be - but it doesn't have to be that. The affirmative measures can be anything, Victoria. They . . .
TOENSING: No, they can't, Dan. Come on, I know what it's like. I had . . . I was chief counsel over the intelligence committee.
ABRAMS: I don't care. That's irrelevant. But you're still misstating the law.
TOENSING: Yes, but I - no, I'm not.
ABRAMS: I mean it's - of course you are.
TOENSING: No, I'm not.
I hereby take back any mean thing I ever said about Dan Abrams. That was worth the price of admission right there. The whole transcript portion in the article is freaking hilarious.

Which just goes to show you, just because someone in the GOP says something, it doesn't make it true. Let's all start requiring people to back up what they say on talking head shows -- Dan Abrams has sure made a hell of a start with that one.

(And for those of you who sent me an e-mail asking, my toddler went trick-or-treating this evening as Piglet. And thinks that the plastic pumpkin miraculously fills with candy whenever it's checked. That's gonna be fun for the rest of the week...)

UPDATE: Ooops.
Alito's politically conservative views were not in dispute. "Of course he's against abortion," his 90-year-old mother Rose told reporters at her home in Hamilton, N.J.
Hey, when you are 90, who is gonna tell you to keep your mouth shut? I mean, really? Just had to share that one. Who wants to bet that mom won't be peeking her head out the door for a while to share cookies with the press?