updated 7/3/2007 11:12:45 PM ET 2007-07-04T03:12:45

President Bush forced the CIA leak case into uncharted legal territory when he commuted the prison sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a federal judge said Tuesday.

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Bush eliminated Libby’s 2½-year prison term and left in place his two years of supervised release. But supervised release — a form of probation — is only available to people who have served prison time. Without prison, it’s unclear what happens next.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton posed the question to Libby’s attorneys and to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald: Does this mean Libby won’t actually be required to serve supervised release? Should he just have to report to probation officials as if he spent time in prison?

The law, Walton said in court documents, “does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration.”

For now, it appears Libby is in legal limbo. Walton gave both sides until Monday to respond.

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