What was Ted Wells smoking before he made that closing argument?
He must have known the prosecution had its case nailed down, and was just hoping to confuse one juror enough to get a hung jury.

At least you can’t accuse Ted Wells of ignoring ancestral wisdom.

In his closing argument for Scooter Libby’s defense, Wells conformed to two great courtroom maxims:

If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.

If the law is on your side, pound on the law.

If neither is on your side, pound on the table.


If you can’t blind ’em with brilliance,

baffle ’em with bullshit.

Ask yourself: If he had any actual arguments, why would he have made that closing?

Sounds like a “Hail Mary” pass to me.

All I can figure is that Wells knew the prosecution had its case nailed down, and was just hoping to confuse one juror enough to get a hung jury. But wouldn’t he have had a better chance just speaking calmly and pretending that his argument held water, instead of ranting and raving?

It’s a weird system where the next several years of a man’s life get determined by whether his hired gladiator is in good form, but I guess it’s the one we’re stuck with.

Update Jeralyn Merrit disagrees. She thinks Libby might skate.

Second update Marcy Wheeler sides with Dana Priest, and gives a very perceptive blow-by-blow account.

Third update Cahatutec isn’t calling the verdict &#8212 juries are too small to be predictable &#8212 but thinks that Fitzgerald won the day handily.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: