Zwaan Song

Posing nonchalantly, one hand on the lectern, the other in his pocket, Alex van der Zwaan received a sentence of thirty days and $20,000. from judge Amy Berman Jackson. Zwaan, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is the first person to be sentenced as a result of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.

Note that the person depicted in the above sketch is not van der Zwaan’s father, though he was present in the courtroom.

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Shackling and C-Plea Sentencing

Other cases argued at the Supreme Court this week included one from California, United States v. Sanchez -Gomez, about the routine shackling of defendants in court,  and Hughes v. United States, in which a defendant who entered into a so-called “C-Plea” promising a below guidelines sentence is eligible for a reduction when the guidelines are lated reduced.

Of course, it’s never that simple. In Sanchez-Gomez the question before the justices is also whether the 9th Circuit has authority to review, and in Hughes it’s about what kind of precedent applies from the Court’s earlier plurality decisions.

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Maryland Gerrymander

Sketches from yesterday’s desultory argument in Benisek v. Lamone.

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AT&T / Time Warner Anti-Trust Trial

A few sketches from opening statements in the huge anti-trust trial in which the Justice Department is trying to stop a merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

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Abortion, Speech, and . . . Contracts

It’s been awhile since the Supreme Court heard an abortion case, and while last Tuesday’s argument wasn’t exactly about abortion, it was.

In NIFLA v. Becerra the Court is considering a California law, the Reproductive Fact Act, that compels “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide information to clients including the availability of abortion. The pregnancy centers, whose real mission is pro-life/anti-abortion, say the act violates their First Amendment’s free speech rights.

 

The Constitution’s contracts clause was before the Court on Monday as the justices heard arguments in Sveen v. Melin about a state that law nullifies life insurance beneficiaries post-divorce. The dispute is between the children of Mark Sveen, who divorced four years before he died in 2011, and Sveen’s ex-wife, Kaye Melin.

If you’re wondering about Wednesday’s arguments, I wasn’t there. A snowstorm was rolling through and I, unlike the justices who are no snowflakes, decided not to chance the drive in from Baltimore.

 

 

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This Week’S SCOTUS Sketches

A very busy week at the Court beginning with arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, one of the biggies in which the justices, now that are nine, are expected to deal a blow to public sector unions and their right to collect fees from non-members.

On Tuesday the Court heard arguments in two interesting cases, United States v. Microsoft, and Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach.      

The first of Tuesday’s arguments concerned emails stored on servers located in Ireland and whether a warrant served on Microsoft could reach the content of those emails.

The second argument on Tuesday saw the return of Fane Lozman, the gadfly of Riviera Beach. Remarkably, this is the second time Lozman has brought a case against the City of Riviera Beach all the way to the Supreme Court. During the 2012-2013 term the Court considered Lozman’s petition, and ruled in his favor, after the city took possession of his “house-boat” under admiralty law and sank it. This time around, Lozman is arguing for his First Amendment protect speech after being removed from a city council meeting and arrested in retaliation for his statements during the public-comments portion of the meeting.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend Wednesday’s arguments in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, Really sorry I missed that one, but I had to go sketch Manafort’s arraignment on a superseding indictment.

 

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Two More Pleas For Mueller

Beginning with the indictments of thirteen Russian nationals last Friday, Special Counsel Mueller’s team have kept the federal courthouses busy, both in DC and Alexandria. In addition to new charges filed this week were two guilty pleas before Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The most significant was Manafort’s partner in crime, Rick Gates, who remained with the Trump campaign throughout the election, and is now cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.

The other guilty plea came from a former Skadden lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan, who did work for Gates and Manafort. Son-in-law of a Russian billionaire, the 33 year-old van der Zwaan displayed an air of insouciance in court as he yawned and chewed gum.

Reporters covering this story are clocking some hours and miles as the Special Counsel’s investigation moves into high gear, forcing some to grab lunch while standing in line outside the courtroom. Below is a special bonus tiny sketch of Politico’s Josh Gerstein having a bite on the go.

 

 

 

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This Week’s SCOTUS Sketches

Three arguments: Currier v. Virginia, City of Hays v. Vogtand Dahda v. United StatesFour opinions: Murphy v. SmithRubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Class v. United States, and Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers. No biggies.

 

 

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This Week’s SCOTUS Sketches

The Supreme Court heard arguments in four cases this week ( Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ), three of which I sketched.

Tuesday’s argument in Dalmazzi v. United States was a fairly esoteric, at least to me, discussion on military judges serving simultaneously on two courts. The question of whether the Supreme Court even has jurisdiction over executive branch military courts was also raised.

First up on Wednesday was Encino Motorcars v. Navarro, about overtime pay for service advisors at car dealerships. Exciting, I know. But one thing did make it a bit more interesting to draw, a pair of sign-language interpreters were present for the swearing in of members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association. Members of that bar were also able to follow the arguments on handheld devices.

More lively and interesting was Wednesday’s second case, and the last argument of the January sitting, McCoy v. Louisiana, in which death row inmate Robert McCoy argues that he should get a new trial because his own lawyer told jurors he was guilty.

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Ohio Voter Roll Purge

Here are three sketches from yesterday’s argument in Husted v. A.Philip Randolph Institute on whether the method Ohio uses to purge its voter registration list violates the federal motor voter law.

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