Year: 2008

Abramoff Sentencing Sketches


I’m often asked how many sketches I do, and the answer is always ‘that depends’. It depends on how much time I have, and whether we’re talking about finished drawings or rough sketches.


At the sentencing of Jack Abramoff this week I produced two finished drawings: the obligatory, and time consuming, wide-shot, and a tight head-shot. I might have completed more, but Nightly News dropped the story and MSNBC was only interested in the Republican Convention and the looming hurricanes.

But during the two hour hearing, which ended in the late afternoon right up against deadline, I was also working on other sketches which could have been finished if needed.


This one shows Abramoff’s lawyer Abbe Lowell arguing for his client.


This is a sketch of a member of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe delivering a victim impact statement.



Here prosecutor Mary Butler addresses the court while Abramoff looks on.


Abbe Lowell pleads for leniency in the sentencing of his client.


And, finally, the beginning of another head-shot should I need it.

If you want to read about what actually happened in the courtroom Matt Apuzzo’s story is here.

Posted in Congress, Courtroom Tagged with:

The Week That Was: The Senator & The Schlub


Sen. Ted Stevens was presumably campaigning in Alaska Wednesday while his lawyer, Brendan Sullivan was in a courtroom In Washington trying to persuade Judge Emmet Sullivan to move the Senator’s trial to his home state so that he could campaign nights and weekends. The Judge denied the request.

The story in the Anchorage Daily News is here.


And in local news: Erik Collins got the maximum sentence the judge could give him in an attempted murder for hire.  Collins had tried on two occasions to arrange the murder of his on again off again boyfriend after taking out insurance policies on him. To make it all a little more miserable he was previously convicted of manslaughter of another lover.

NBC4 story here.


Posted in Congress, Courtroom Tagged with: ,

Faux Rockefeller?


In Baltimore this weekend FBI agents arrested a fugitive charged with kidnapping his 7-year old daughter during a supervised visit in Boston a week ago, but that’s just the beginning. In a story that gets curiouser and curiouser it seems that Clark Rockefeller, aka Chip Smith, Clark Rock, Michael Brown, James Frederick, etc… may be an accomplished confidence artist.

Read about it in the Baltimore Sun here,

and in the Boston Globe here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with:

Judge Vows Detainee Cases “Resolved This Year”


At a second hearing this week resulting from the Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing Guantanamo Bay detainees to have their cases heard in civilian courts U.S. District Judge Richard Leon emphatically expressed his intent to move quickly. “The Supreme Court has spoken. They want this done. By God, we’ll get this done”.

Reuters story here.

Posted in Courtroom, Military Tagged with: ,

Habeas Hearings for Gitmo Detainees Begin


The ceremonial courtroom in Washington’s U.S. District Court was filled to capacity with more than 120 lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a dozen government lawyers, and various clerks, reporters and spectators. Another couple dozen lawyers for the detainees listened to the proceeding on conference call.


At the conclusion of the hearing Judge Hogan remarked: “The government has to set aside
every other case pending before them and get these cases moving
first….People in all levels of government should understand that.”

AP story here.

Posted in Courtroom, Military Tagged with: ,

Scalia and Stevens Duke It Out


“It was an extraordinary 23-minute-long scene at the Supreme Court this
morning as Justice Antonin Scalia read from his majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller
and then Justice John Paul Stevens read from his unusually pointed
dissent. Both cast aspersions on each other’s interpretation of the
Second Amendment and relevant precedents, and spectators were left with
a lot of reading to do to determine what the justices actually decided.”

-Tony Mauro, The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes

I’ve quoted Tony Mauro’s BLT posting because he’s done such a great job of capturing the atmosphere in the Supreme Court yesterday during the announcement of opinions in the historic Second Amendment case, D.C. v. Heller. His peripheral observations remind me that sometimes I need to stop drawing that one Justice or lawyer, and take the time to look around: don’t just draw, sit there.

I urge the reader to follow this link, and read Tony’s complete post.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with:

Remembering Tim Russert


Tim was my boss.  After a terrible personal tragedy just about exactly a year ago he was one of the first persons to come by my office, close the door, and offer some words of comfort.

I admired him and was proud to work for him.  The sketch shows him on the witness stand during the Scooter Libby trial.  He did an impressive job holding his own during two days of very aggressive questioning by Libby’s lawyer.

I will miss him.

Posted in Courtroom, History Tagged with: ,

Is the drought over?

I don’t know if it’s because of the primaries, or the economy, but there has been little interest lately by the news media in covering the courts here in the DC area.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision may, or may not, change that.


The Court’s decision clears the way for Guantanamo detainees to have their habeas petitions heard in U.S. District Court, for the District of Columbia.

After sketching a few notes at the Supreme Court (Pete Williams rarely uses sketches in his SCOTUS decision stories, but I go just in case) I was sent by the local affiliate to cover a hearing in Greenbelt where five defendants in a mortgage fraud scheme were making their initial appearance.


Let’s hope this signals the end of the courtroom sketch drought – although with the Conventions and the Olympics coming up it could be a dry summer.


Posted in Courtroom, Supreme Court Tagged with:

Theme of the Day: Death Penalty


Yesterday, April 15th, the Supreme Court appropriately delivered two tax related opinions.  Today, as they were about to hear arguments on a Louisiana law that permits the death penalty in cases of child rape, the Court announced their decision approving the use of lethal injection to administer capital punishment.

The sketch shows attorney Jeffrey Fisher arguing today for the petitioner in Kennedy v. Louisiana.  Fisher also appeared before the Supreme Court earlier this term representing the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill; a sketch of that argument can be found here.

Washington Post story on the Louisiana case is here.

NYT story on Lethal Injection here.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

Historic Second Amendment arguments


The lines began Sunday evening. Today the Supreme Court was packed inside and ringed outside with demonstrators as the Justices heard arguments in a challenge to the DC handgun law – the toughest in the country. It’s been nearly seventy years since the court last considered the right to bear arms.

The sketch shows Solicitor General Paul Clement at the lectern – notice the absence of notes.

Washington Post story here.

ScotusBlog analysis here.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,