Presiding U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton is expected to address jurors Monday morning when they resume deliberating the fate of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Monday will mark the ninth day of jury deliberations.
Notes from the jury gave a hint Friday that there might be at least one holdout on a conviction.
The jurors sent two notes to Judge Walton, one with a question asking for further explanation of the concept of reasonable doubt, suggesting possible uncertainty or even disagreement over the core standard by which they are to measure the case against Libby.
A conviction would require that all jurors find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The question reflects the central role that memory has played in the 14 days of testimony in the trial.
"We would like clarification of the term 'reasonable doubt,'" the note said. "Specifically, is it necessary for the government to present evidence that it is not humanly possible for someone not to recall an event in order to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?"
Prosecutors allege that, in the spring and early summer of 2003, Libby was actively seeking out information about former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame. Libby, they said, offered reporters and former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer information about Plame's CIA job in an effort to imply that Wilson had been chosen for a mission to Niger by his wife, and to discredit his accusations that the Bush administration "twisted" pre-war intelligence about Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
The prosecution alleges that Libby deliberately lied to investigators to protect his job and spare the White House political embarrassment.
Defense attorneys contend their client simply misremembered his conversations about Wilson and Plame, because he was so consumed with more important national security work for the vice president.
The juror's question suggested that at least some of seven women and four men deliberating the case are struggling with the imprecise definition of reasonable doubt, as well as how to decide whether a false statement should be attributed to faulty memory or willful deception, the issue at the center of the case.
In his instructions to the Libby jury before sending them off to deliberate, Walton said, "A reasonable doubt, as the name implies, is a doubt based on reason."
He also said that "if after careful, honest and impartial consideration of all the evidence, you cannot say that you are firmly convinced of the defendant's guilt, then you have a reasonable doubt."
Walton also noted, however, that "the government is not required to prove guilt beyond all doubt or to a mathematical certainty or to a scientific certainty."
The other note dealt with Libby's grand jury testimony, specifically the count that alleges that Libby obstructed the leak probe.
The jurors asked the judge, "are we supposed to evaluate the entire Libby transcripts (testimony) or would the court direct us to specific pages/lines."
Some eight hours of audio recordings of Libby's two appearances before the grand jury were played in court to the jury which was also given more than 300 pages of transcripts.
Libby is charged with five felonies: two counts of making false statements to FBI agents, two counts of perjury before a grand jury, and one count of obstructing the CIA leak investigation.
Libby is not charged with the leak of Plame's name to reporters. No one has been charged with the leak itself.
He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, though he would be likely to get far less time under federal sentencing guidelines.