Friday, September 26, 2008

Walton on Libby, Public Pressure

The Blog of the Legal Times has a piece on U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who is now "reflecting" on his career. Walton recently told a group of judges that he was "warned" from the outset of the Scooter Libby trial that Mr. Libby "would never be made accountable for what he did if he were convicted.” Walton did not explain how such (solicited?) commentary, in any sense, represented a "warning" of any type. Nor did he indicate whether or not he shared that opinion from the outset. He only noted that a colleague who had "handled a similar case" encouraged him to simply do his "job." Walton added:
“If we want the American citizenry to respect our system of justice, people have to feel that regardless of who you are, that when you come into a courtroom you’re going to be treated equally.”
Interestingly, Judge Walton also discussed media attention and public opinion. He suggested many were expecting him to show favor to Libby and that the media were "taking some shots" at him. But PardonPower recalls no commentator of even moderate stature expecting Walton to show such favor. Indeed, he was well known as a strict-sentencing type. There were no expectations so much as there were questions. Given that, where in the world was Walton looking to see such expectations? After sentencing, he felt as though he was "the darling" of liberal media and the recipient of "negative" editorials from the Wall Street Journal.

Seeing how sensitive Walton was to the opinions of his colleagues and the expectations and reactions of the media, one wonders how much his decision making may have been affected by such non-legal considerations. See story here.

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