By David Shuster
Jury selection has already provided some interesting color and comments from the lawyers and prospective jurors.
This morning, the judge gathered 60 possible jurors in his courtroom and guided them through 38 questions they need to answer on their questionnaire. One of the questions was about whether “you could go six weeks without reading a newspaper or watching a television news program.” Judge Walton then told the jury that he is addicted to his “routine of reading the newspaper every morning.” And he asked the jurors whether they could “break such a habit” in order to render a fair and impartial verdict not influenced by any media coverage.
After the 60 prospective jurors filled out their questionnaire, the judge began the process of bringing them to the witness stand one by one to answer follow up questions.
The third prospective juror to be questions was exceptionally colorful. The professional opera singer now spends her time focused on her three sons. Patrick Fitzgerald then asked the woman if her sons “were young.” The woman broke into a big smile and purred in a Southern accent, “Ahhhh, you’re soooo swwweeeet.” Fitzgerald looked shocked at this apparent flirtation from the woman.
One of Libby’s lawyers then asked the woman if she has any strong opinions about various media figures. She said she “knew” Tim Russert but added, Wwhen you say Tim Russert, I don’t go ‘oh lord’ or ‘oh good.’”
Several times during the follow up questions, she told the lawyers in her southern accent “that’s a real good question you asked,” complimenting them on their inquiry.
Finally, she was asked if she knows anything about the CIA or “covert agents.” She said, “My dad was a Methodist minister. He didn’t run in those circles.”
As of 12:15pm, the court has questioned four jurors on the witness stand… all four have survived the questioning and have been told to return to court tomorrow afternoon. The court will keep this up until they have 36 who have made it past the individual questioning. Then, the judge will conduct a criminal background check on these prospective jurors… then, the lawyers will use their peremptory challenges to strike jurors from the pool. (The defense gets 12 challenges, the prosecution gets 6.)