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Friday, July 08, 2005

Judy's jail

Am I the only one who's wondering — after reading this NYT description of Judith Miller's jail, her privileges to mingle, and the identity of her co-inmates — whether Zacarias Moussaoui is about to become her next "confidential source"?

Talk about your small worlds! I suppose if Moussaoui is looking for the one fellow inmate whom he's reasonably sure won't someday snitch him out, Judy might look pretty good right now. And from her perspective, you know what they say: "One [jail] door closes, another opens!"

And I appreciated this gripping crowd scene photo, also from the NYT:

Free Judy!

I can't quite make out all of the text on this fellow's chest, but I believe it says something about "Niger," "yellowcake," and "this lousy t-shirt." Anyway, although I know that Bill Safire and the NYT have expressed worries for Ms. Miller's safety, I think they can now at least discount the risks of her being accidentally injured by the supportive mob streaming over the barricades.

This bit, from the same article, is also fairly amusing:

In remarks outside the courthouse on Wednesday, Floyd Abrams, another of her lawyers, hinted at a possible strategy in the coming weeks.

"At some point before the expiration of that four-month period," Mr. Abrams said, "a lawyer can go back to Judge Hogan and say: 'Blank period of time has passed. She has not revealed her source. There's no reason to think that she will. And so we ask you to free her now.' That is something that does come up routinely in civil contempt situations."

But Charles L. Babcock, a lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues with the Jackson Walker law firm in Dallas, said he was dubious about that strategy's chances of success, given Judge Hogan's rulings.

Mr. Babcock is indeed the local equivalent of Floyd Abrams, the Texas go-to guy and lawyer of choice for media organizations. He's not quoted directly, and I suspect that however he expressed his "dubiousness" to the NYT, he was extremely polite and deferential to Mr. Abrams. I'll try to restrain my own snark, and limit myself to observing that in my own humble opinion, for Mr. Abrams' pitch to be likely to work, he'd need to be able to truthfully replace his "blank period of time [having] passed" phrase with "Hell having now definitely frozen over." I'm not expecting Judge Hogan to be the first one to blink here.

A related point that I haven't seen mentioned in the MSM: It's true that the suspension of the contempt sanctions pending Ms. Miller's DC Circuit appeal and Supreme Court cert petition has effectively shortened her short-term potential jail time. But when this grand jury's term expires, another one will be empaneled immediately; that which has been presented to this grand jury will be available to the next; subpoenas that were issued for this grand jury but were never fully complied with can and almost certainly will be re-issued for the next; and Judge Hogan is absolutely entitled and quite certain to take into account Ms. Miller's defiance of him and this grand jury in considering a re-filed civil contempt charge in connection with the next. If she gets one at all, Ms. Miller's release from jail at the conclusion of the present grand jury's term may be a very short holiday indeed. I'm confident that Mr. Abrams has so advised Ms. Miller and her employer. There aren't table stakes; this is a game of no-limit poker, and Judge Hogan has the nearly unlimited chip stack that goes along with the robe and the gavel.

Posted by Beldar at 05:31 PM in Global War on Terror, Humor, Law (2006 & earlier), Mainstream Media, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) steve sturm made the following comment | Jul 8, 2005 6:49:05 PM | Permalink

A different matter and a DC judge, not a federal judge, but remember the case of Elizabeth Morgan, who spent 2 years in jail on civil contempt charges for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of her child.

(2) craig mclaughlin made the following comment | Jul 8, 2005 8:53:06 PM | Permalink

Why would the NYT run that photo, which was a real coffee spitter?

BTW, I just got through reading Tom Maguire's blog post re Rove et. al., and the comments-- they're up to about a 8.5 on the speculation Richter scale...

(3) Cubes N' Views made the following comment | Jul 10, 2005 9:12:09 AM | Permalink

After I visited Danbury prison for women a few years ago, I might have thought prison conditions were kind of a non-issue. But for the record, I think there is good reason to be concerned about jail conditions - and while Alexandria may be better than the D.C. jail, there are reports of over-crowding (and worse) from there too.

As for Judy Miller supporters, I assure you, the lone photo you've posted is not indicative of the level of support for her cause. Although I concede this one has been a little tough for First Amendment advocates because the facts are not on our side. (Wouldn't it have been nice if by leaking, the source was actually promoting national security?)

But what I can't get over, if Novack is still not commenting on whether or not he cut a deal - doesn't it seem inescapable that he did? And if so, the fact that the investigation is still ongoing only makes sense if he pointed the finger at Cooper/Miller (either they were his sources, OR he convinced Fitzgerald that subpoenaing him was unnecessary because there are alternative sources - other reporters.) I'm sure I'm not the first to so speculate, but do you agree?

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