While presiding over perhaps the most high-profile trial of his career, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton made time for his more mundane courthouse role: the scolding mentor to this city’s young thugs.
So, the vice president’s former top deputy, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, his team of well-heeled and famous defense lawyers and a nationally known prosecutor in the CIA leak case would have to wait to argue over key evidence in Libby’s perjury trial that day in February. Walton had some important yelling to do at defendants whose names would never make the papers.
For some reason you’ve chosen to be a criminal, and at some point you’re going to pay a price,” Walton warned one defendant facing jail for fighting and violating his probation. “If you really hurt someone, we would put you away for a long time.”
Today, it will be Libby standing before Walton to be sentenced for his perjury and obstruction conviction in a probe of the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame. The bad news for Libby is that Walton, a judge for a quarter-century, is known throughout the defense bar as a “long-ball hitter” — a jurist willing to put defendants away for a long time to deter future crimes.
Legal experts familiar with the judge’s career say the chances are very high that Walton will give Libby a considerable sentence, probably at the high end of the range for perjury cases, as a result of Libby’s lies to investigators about what he told reporters about Plame’s CIA job.