I'm Serious, Man, I Love You Guys. You Think They'd Let Us All Come Back Again and Decide the Fate of Other High-Ranking Government Officials?

How do you read the body language of a jury? That was the big question in U.S. Judge Reggie Walton's courtroom this afternoon, as he brought in the 11 remaining jurors in the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby case for a little chat. After nearly six days of deliberations, the jurors--many of them dressed in blue jeans and other casual clothes--had asked a couple of seemingly innocuous questions: Could they look at a dictionary? And, even more revealing, could they leave early Friday? Walton delivered his answers: No, they could not see a dictionary; if they had any questions about the legal meaning of words in the indictment or his instructions, they should ask him. And yes, they could leave early at 2 p.m. on Friday. Translation: there will be no verdict in the case this week.

But the brief courtroom session did offer lawyers, reporters and the defendant, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, their first glimpse of the jurors in a while. Most seemed to be enjoying themselves. A couple of women in the front row smiled and whispered among themselves. A few seemed to look in Libby's general direction (usually a good sign for a defendant)--although it was hard to tell if they were looking at him, one of his lawyers or the continually broken clock right above him.

This in fact may have been a source of their amusement. The clock never moved during the first few days of the trial. Then after a front-page New York Times expose about the clock that never moved, courthouse officials fixed it. Now it was broken again. Can't the government do anything right? And if time in the courtroom is standing still again, what's the rush on reaching a verdict?

On the other hand, there was a somewhat older woman in the back row who stared stoically in front of her in what looked like a glower. But she didn't look happy during the trial either. Another juror sitting directly in front of her, a man in his mid-50s, seemed much more relaxed and, with the other happier women sitting to his left, appeared to be sharing some sort of inside joke. He too whispered and smiled. The jurors--or most of them anyway--appeared to have bonded and were in no rush to finish their job, even while Libby, his lawyers, the press corps and much of political Washington anxiously await their decision.