Reader question: When is a dismissed juror replaced?

+ More

Our first question comes from Liz in Pennsylvania, who asks, "When a juror is dismissed, isn't an alternate chosen to replace the dismissed juror?"

Liz's question comes in response to news that Reggie Walton, the judge in the trial of former Cheney-aide Scooter Libby, dismissed one of the jurors after she was exposed to media coverage of the trial. Walton sent the remaining 11 jurors back to deliberate.

U.S. News chief legal affairs correspondent Chitra Ragavan looked into it for us. She caught up with defense attorney Barry Boss, co-author of Federal Criminal Practice, who had this to offer: "The rules provide that after deliberations have begun, the court has discretion, upon finding 'just cause,' to excuse a juror and allow a valid verdict by 11 jurors, even absent agreement by the defendant or the prosecutor."

But that only applies to the first dismissal. If a second juror is dismissed, both the prosecution and the defense must agree in order for the trial to continue with only 10 jurors.

Have a question for us? Submit your queries to

newsblog@usnews.com or click the "Ask a question" button under every post.
Etc.: No Libby Legacy for the Press? on USNews.com