Year: 2009

General Kagan’s Maiden Argument

In an unusual September sitting, historic in several ways, the nation’s first woman Solicitor General made her first oral argument before the first Supreme Court to include a Latina, presumably wise.

The court seemed poised to undo, at least partially, a hundred-year-old ban on corporate campaign financing, as Solicitor General Kagan all but to acknowledged : “If you are asking me, Mr. Chief Justice, as to whether the government
has a preference as to the way in which it loses if it has to lose, the
answer is ‘yes’.”

Also in the picture are, left to right, First Amendment champion Floyd Abrams, unidentified attorney, former Bush Administration Solicitor General Ted Olsen and, on the far right, former Clinton Solicitor General Seth Waxman. (note: Justices Alito and Ginsburg are not pictured, but were seated on the far left.)

Dahlia Lithwick has written about it here.


Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

Sotomayor Investiture

The sketch shows Justice Sotomayor being sworn in at today’s investiture ceremony. Attorney General Eric Holder and Solicitor General Elena Kagan are seated at the table. To the right is President Obama, and Vice-President Biden (I didn’t quite capture a good likeness of Biden). In the left foreground is the chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 19th century, and  where Sotomayor was seated as the Clerk read her commission.

Posted in History, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

Holocaust Museum Shooter in Court

James von Brunn, the 89 year old white supremacist who shot and killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June finally appeared in court today. Despite having been reportedly shot in the face von Brunn seemed alert and was able to speak clearly.
He objected to the public defender’s request for a mental competency exam saying: “your constitution guarantees me a speedy and fair trial”.

Washington Post story here.

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Jefferson Guilty (but not for “cold cash”)

The jury in the trial of former Congressman William Jefferson, infamous for the $90,000 in marked bills found in his freezer, returned a verdict late yesterday, the fifth day of their deliberations.  Although Jefferson was found guilty on 11 of 16 counts the jury acquitted on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (note that as of this posting Wikipedia is wrong on FCPA conviction) charge that related to the “cold cash” intended as a bribe to the Nigerian Vice-President.

Times-Picayune story here.

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Judge Frees Gitmo Detainee

Judge Ellen Huvelle yesterday ordered the government to release Mohammed Jawad, a young Guantanamo detainee whose confession under torture was thrown out by a military judge.  Though unlikely, criminal charges could still be brought against Jawad, an action the judge discouraged. “I hope the government will succeed in getting him back to Afghanistan,” Huvelle said.

In the sketch Jawad’s attorney, Maj. David Frakt, is pictured at the podium. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ian Gershengorn is standing on the left.

NYT story here.

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Farewell Justice Souter

Monday was David Souter’s last day as a Supreme Court Justice, and this is last sketch of the bench as composed since Justice Alito was seated.

Come Fall, in a bit of musical chairs, Justice Thomas will take the seat vacated by Souter, Ginsberg will take Thomas’ seat, Breyer will take Ginsberg’s, and Alito will move to where Breyer used to sit. The new, most junior Justice will take her seat at the far end on the Chief Justice’s left.

Dana Milbank on Monday’s session here.


Posted in History, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

Spy Couple Back in Court

Kendall and Gwendolyn Myers, charged with spying for Cuba over 30 years, were back in court Wednesday for a hearing before Judge Reggie Walton.  They waived their right to a speedy trial, and said they wanted the same lawyers to represent each of them.

AP story here.

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Jefferson ‘Cold Cash’ Trial Begins

A briefcase ( pictured at left above ) that once contained $100,000., and that former New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson took from an FBI informant and placed in the trunk of his car, sat on a table in front of the podium as Assistant U.S.Attorney Mark Lytle told the jury they would hear “a startling and often disheartening account of public corruption at the highest levels of our government”. The jury was shown photos of foil wrapped bricks of cash concealed in Pillsbury Pie Crust and Boca Burger boxes that were found in the Congressman’s freezer.
In the defense’s opening statement attorney Robert Trout told the jury that the ex-Congressman “did not take a  bribe…did not solicit a bribe…is not guilty of any of these charges.”

Times-Picayune story here.

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Couple Charged with Spying for Cuba

A retired State Department analyst and his wife were denied release at a detention hearing today following their arrest last week on charges related to serving as illegal agents of the Cuban government.

Assistant U.S.Attorney Michael Harvey, pictured above at the podium (and looking a lot like Steven Colbert), told Judge Facciola that Kendall Myers and his wife Gwendolyn were planning to sail their 37-foot yacht to the Caribbean in November, possibly to Cuba.

“This escape plan, Your Honor, is no pipe dream,” he said.
Kendall Myers smiled.

Myers also taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and one of his former students has written about that here.

NYT article here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,

Jury Selection for Jefferson Trial

Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson stood before prospective jurors in an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom as his public corruption trial began today. He served nine terms in Congress, but is best known for the $90,000. in marked bills found in his freezer in May 2006.

Times-Picayune story here.


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