On the Forty Second Day of Fitzmas

Brian Zick

One juror has been dismissed, and Judge Walton has decided not to replace her with an alternate.Matt Apuzzo for AP reports: WASHINGTON - A federal judge avoided a potential mistrial in the CIA leak case Monday by dismissing a juror and sending the other 11 back to continue deliberating the fate of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said the juror had seen or read something over the weekend about Libby's trial."What she had exposure to obviously disqualifies her," the judge said.He did not say what the juror had seen but characterized it as a misunderstanding. He has ordered jurors to avoid media coverage of the case.Walton originally feared several jurors were tainted, raising the specter of a mistrial in the politically charged case. Libby is accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.After questioning jurors behind closed doors, however, Walton said the remaining seven women and four men were not affected. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald Walton asked the judge to call on one of two alternates, both women, who sat through the trial and are on standby.But Walton said that would require deliberations to begin fresh and said he didn't want to "throw away two and a half days" of discussions. Instead, he sided with Libby's lawyers and allowed deliberations to continue with 11 jurors — something allowed under federal law in such situations. Jane Hamsher at firedoglake discusses the situation here and here.

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