Yearly Archives: 2010

Busy Day

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Started out the day at the Supreme Court sketching arguments on an Arizona law that punishes employers of illegal immigrants.  Pictured above is Arizona’s Solicitor General Mary O’Grady.

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Then on to U.S. District Court in Baltimore for the initial appearance of yet another young man roped in by FBI agents posing as terrorists.  Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain is said to have attempted to detonate what he thought was a bomb at a military recruitment center in Catonsville, MD.

Would-be bomber story here.

SCOTUSblog story here.

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Posted in Arguments, Courtroom, Supreme Court

Rhetoric, or Just the Facts, M’am?

It was a lively debate as the Justices considered whether a District Court in California can compel the release of inmates from overcrowded prisons.

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As the lawyer for California began his arguments by raising the specter of “between 36,000 and 45,000 inmates” released into the population Justice Sotomayor asked him to “slow down the rhetoric and give me concrete details”.  But after 80 minutes of arguments from both sides the lawyer, Carter Phillips, said in concluding “I guarantee you that there is going to be more crime and people are going to die on the streets of California.”

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And the prisoners’ lawyer, Donald Specter, got it from Justice Alito : “If this order goes into effect, we will see. We will see, and the people of California will see”.

The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata

Lyle Denniston’s analysis here.

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

Mortal Kombat & James Madison

SC101102wideA few sketches and quotes from today’s Supreme Court arguments on violent video games, Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association :
    ”Some of the Grimm’s fairy tales are quite grim, to tell you the truth”Justice Scalia

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California’s Deputy Attorney General Zackery P. Morazzini arguing for petitioners.

 ”Well, I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games”Justice Alito

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Paul M. Smith makes the First Amendment argument for respondents.

 ”. . . Mortal Kombat, . . .which I am sure half the clerks who work for us spent considerable amounts of time in their adolescence playing.”Justice Kagan

NYT story here.

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

FBI Hatched DC Metro Bomb Plot?

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Farooque Ahmed, seen here at a detention hearing this afternoon in U.S.District Court, Alexandria, is charged in a plot to blow up DC Metro stations, but it seems that it was the FBI posing as al-Qaeda that first assigned him to case out Northern Virginia Metro stations, and later told him it was part of a planned terrorist attack.  Clearly Ahmed had the desire to wage jihad, but appears to have been generally clueless until the FBI stepped in.  Ahmed’s wife, Sahar is reported to belong to a group called “Hip Muslim Moms”.

WaPo story here.

 

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Posted in Courtroom

Breaking Bad at Georgetown

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Charles Smith, pictured on the right, and John Perrone appeared before Magitrate Judge Deborah Robinson on Monday after the makings of a drug lab, as well as a small amount of the hallucinogen DMT, were found in Smith’s Georgetown University dorm room during an early morning raid this weekend.

Smith and Perrone, both 18, are high school friends from Andover, Mass. where they were honor-roll students.  Smith is a freshman at Georgetown, and Perrone a freshman at the University of Richmond.  The charges they face could result in ten year sentences, but that’s unlikely.  The administration of a dope slap would not be out of order.

WaPo article here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Chandra Levy Murder Trial Begins

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Prospective jurors had their bags checked as the lined up to enter the courtroom in DC Superior Court today for jury selection in the trial of Ingmar Guandique.

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Wapo story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

Funeral-Picketing Case Heard

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A few sketches from today’s Supreme Court arguments in Snyder v. Phelps.  Fred W. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, whose members are primarily family, have a practice of picketing the funerals of dead soldiers with signs reading “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Fag Troops” and “God Hates You”.  The father of one of those fallen soldiers, Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder, sued the church in court and won, but the judgement was overturned on appeal.  The lawyer representing the bereaved father – Sean Summers, pictured below and above – began his argument : “We’re talking about a funeral. Mr. Snyder simply wanted to bury his son in a private, dignified manner”

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On the other side, with the bigots, is the 1st Amendment freedom of speech.  Numerous news organizations and First Amendment organizations filed briefs supporting the Kansas church.  Arguing the free speech side was the daughter of the church’s pastor, Margie Phelps, pictured below.

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After the argument Ms. Phelps predicted her side would win. “They’re going to uphold the law of the land that you may express a contrary view in a public forum without being sued.”

Dahlia Lithwick sums it up best here.

 

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

First Monday In October

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The new Supreme Court bench, it’s seating reshuffled after the departure of its most senior member, Justice Stevens – the Justices sit in order of seniority – and the addition of its’ newest member, Justice Kagan, began the term with a bankruptcy case that normally would not have packed the courtroom.  But it was a chance to catch a glimpse of Kagan on the bench and listen for her first question which came 15 minutes into the argument.  We won’t see much of Kagan on the bench for the first few weeks of this term since she has recused herself from any cases in which she had a role as Solicitor General. SC101004_recuse
At the end of the bankruptcy Kagan left the bench not to reappear until Wednesday when the Court considers the funeral protest case, Snyder v. Phelps.

AP story here.

 

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Posted in Supreme Court

The Investiture of Justice Kagan

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Wearing white gloves the Supreme Court curators brought in the chair once used by Chief Justice John Marshall and in which Justice Elena Kagan would sit as her official commission was presented to the Court by Attorney General Eric Holder Jr and read into the record. SC101001_investiture
President Obama was present to witness the ceremony as well as retired Justices Stevens, O’Connor and Souter (not pictured).  SC101001sketch_HolderAshcroft
Also present among the many notables was former Attorney General John Ashcroft who was seen exchanging pleasantries with the present AG.

Tony Mauro reports here.

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Posted in Supreme Court

Arguments Heard on Stem Cell Funding Ban

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Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkmann today urged a three judge panel of the DC Circuit, Court of Appeals to stay a District Court judge’s preliminary injunction banning funding of embryonic stem cell research, but two of the judges seemed unpersuaded.

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Judge Griffith interrupted Brinkmann to say, “If you can’t show irreparable harm, nothing else you show matters”.

Bloomberg story here.

Update :  The Appeals Court yesterday agreed with the DOJ and will allow embryonic stem-cell research to continue for now.

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Posted in Appellate Courts
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