NPR logo Jury Selection in Libby Trial Nears End


Jury Selection in Libby Trial Nears End

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, arrives for his trial on perjury charges at the U.S district courthouse in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, 2007. Jury selection for his trial is nearly complete. Mandel Ngan/Getty Images hide caption

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Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

In Washington, D.C., a town saturated with politics, it's not easy finding politically neutral people. Just ask U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. After nearly four days of wading through potential jurors who claimed bias against the Bush administration, Walton on Monday finally certified 37 impartial people, 16 of whom will eventually serve in the trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Libby was Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff until October 2005, when a grand jury indicted him for lying to investigators about conversations he had with reporters concerning the identity of undercover CIA Agent Valerie Plame. He is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

Jury selection began last Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C.; it quickly became apparent that Walton's wishes of finalizing the 12-person jury by Thursday would be impossible. More than half of the potential jurors initially called for duty were excused because of bias against the White House. One woman told the judge, "I think there's been a lot of dishonesty, particularly with the Iraq war." Another man said, "I don't really believe the administration."

The selection process has also demonstrated how difficult it is to find people in Washington with no connections to any of the reporters, lawyers, and administration officials involved in the trial.

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One man was allowed to stay after the first round of questioning, even though his fiancée, an attorney, represents journalist Bob Woodward in the case. Another man was not immediately excused, even though he is a former Washington Post reporter whose friend played football with the defendant.

By the time court adjourns Monday, the judge hopes to have 12 jurors and four alternates. Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday morning.