Michael Flynn Status Hearing

At the same time Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Advisor, was sitting in a courtroom, where among other matters a tentative date was set for his sentencing, John Bolton, the third person to occupy that position, was given the boot.

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Goodbye Summer, Hello Courthouse

Time to come ashore and get back to work, reluctantly. In Boston last week for the latest episode of the Hollywood college admissions scandal, this time featuring Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli. They appeared before US magistrate judge M. Page Kelley for a Rule 44 hearing concerning possible conflicts in their representation by counsel. I expect to be back in Boston next week for the sentencing of Felicity Huffman who pleaded guilty in May, admitting she paid $15,000 to arrange for cheating on her daughter’s SAT test.

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Last Sketches of OT2018

A generally quiet term concluded this week with opinions on two major issues before the Court, election district gerrymandering and the citizenship question on the 2020 census. There’s no question that it is now the Roberts Court with the Chief Justice replacing now retired Justice Kennedy as the deciding swing vote. Roberts wrote the opinions in both of the term’s blockbusters, siding with the conservatives on gerrymandering, but joining, at least in part, the liberal justices on the census question.

Here are some sketches from this last week. More sketches from the term are posted in my archive. I’m off to Ireland for a two week vacation so any print orders will have to wait until the end of July. Have a great summer!

 

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First Court Hearing On House Trump Subpoenas

Yesterday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on President Trump’s efforts to block a House committee’s subpoena for financial records is likely just the first skirmish in a lengthy battle to be fought in the courts.

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Maria Butina Sentencing

Not a spy but still an agent is how the government portrayed Russian gun rights enthusiast Maria Butina who managed to establish close relationships with senior members of the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party.

From the government’s sentencing memo:

Butina was not a spy in the traditional sense of trying to gain access to classified information to send back to her home country. Acquiring information valuable to a foreign power does not necessarily involve collecting classified documents or engaging in cloak-and-dagger activities. Something as basic as the identification of people who have the ability to influence policy in a foreign power’s favor is extremely attractive to those powers. This identification could form the basis of other forms of intelligence operations, or targeting, in the future.

Butina received a sentence of eighteen months. With credit for time already served she will be ready for deportation back to Russia in approximately nine months.

 

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Last Arguments Of A Quiet Term

April is the last argument siting of the Supreme Court. From now until the end of June the Justices will only sit to announces opinions, and no maybe a few dissents. After a fairly quiet term with no real blockbusters things picked up in this month. Last week the Court heard arguments in CENSUS, about the citizenship question on the 2020 census, and the week before there were arguments in Brunetti, about registering an “immoral” or “scandalous” trademark.

 

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ISIS Wannabe

According to federal prosecutors 28 year-old Rondell Henry, inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, planned a terrorist truck attack like the one in Nice, France that killed 84. It wasn’t a very well thought out plan. Henry stole a U-Haul in Alexandria and drove it to Dulles Airport in the early hours of March 27. Unable to get access to the airport he then drove to National Harbor to “get the largest number of casualties.” At National Harbor he broke into a boat and hid overnight. When he came back to the U-Haul police, who had the stolen vehicle under surveillance, arrested Henry. He soon confessed to the plot.

 

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NSA Document Hoarder Pleads Guilty

Harold Martin, a former NSA contractor with a top secret security clearance was arrested in 2016 for taking home the equivalent of a half billion pages of physical and digital classified documents. He didn’t pass the materials on to anyone, just hoarded them compulsively in his home. Last week he pleaded guilty to one count in exchange for a nine-year sentence and having the remaining 19 charges dropped.

Martin’s lawyer, James Wyda, told the court, “His actions were the product of mental illness, not treason. . . . He is deeply remorseful.”

If I heard correctly, a couple times during the hearing Martin said, “It’s time to close the Pandora’s box.”

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Celebrity Defendants In Boston Courtroom

Celebrity screen actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, along with Loughlin’s husband Mossimo Giannulli, had a five-minute appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Boston on Wednesday. They, along with over thirty other parents, are facing charges in a nation-wide college admission fraud scandal.

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Last Sketches from the March Sitting

It’s Monday, April 1st, and surprise! I’m not at the Court. I meant to be there but with so much to do before heading up to Boston for the celebrity college admissions scandal, and low expectations of any really momentous opinions, I choose to play hooky. Nevertheless, here’s an April Fools banner.

The big arguments last week were a pair of gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, that never made it to network prime time because of the Jussie Smollett breaking news. Again with the celebrities!

Tuesday’s gerrymander arguments were bookended by Administrative Law arguments on Monday, PDR Network v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, . . .

. . . and on Wednesday, Kisor v. Wilkie.

We also had an Admiralty Law case, The Dutra Group v. Batterton, argued last week, and though I didn’t sketch the argument I felt it was time for a maritime themed banner.

 

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