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Judge rejects Libby memory expert testimony

[JURIST] US District Judge Reggie Walton [official profile] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday against allowing the testimony of memory experts in the CIA leak trial [JURIST news archive] of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby [defense profile; JURIST news archive]. Libby, charged [text, PDF; JURIST report] last year with perjury and obstruction of justice, blames faulty memory for the false statements made to investigators regarding his conversations with members of the press about former CIA operative Valerie Plame [JURIST news archive]. Plame’s identity was revealed days after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration's pre-Iraq war intelligence. Libby sought to use memory experts [JURIST report] to show that he innocently mis-remembered facts, and did not intentionally misrepresent his knowledge of the leak.

Walton found that the defense failed to conclusively show that the memory testimony would be helpful to the jury, but instead could potentially mislead and confuse them. He said the theories on memory advanced by the defense were common sense, and that "the Court has no doubt that aided by the normal trial processes, and the assistance of very capable legal counsel, the jurors will have the ability to collectively draw upon their common-sense understanding of memory and render a fair and just verdict." Last week special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald [official website; JURIST news archive] grilled a psychologist called by the defense to convince Walton to allow the testimony, challenging the validity of memory research [JURIST report], and dissecting her work until she eventually admitted some errors and misstatements. AP has more.

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