Monthly Archives: March 2010

No Jail Time For Arenas

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The government had asked Judge Morin to sentence the Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas (seen here seated while his attorney Kenneth Wainstein addresses the judge) to three months in prison for bringing handguns into the Verizon Center locker room.  The judge instead sentenced Arenas to two years probation and 30 days in a halfway house along with community service and a $5000 contribution to a crime victims fund.

WaPo story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

This Week’s Drawings

I took a couple of commissions this week from lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court.  The drawings are unfinished.  I plan to use watercolors, instead of my usual markers, to add color.  Both cases were argued Monday morning, March 22.

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Hamilton v. Lanning

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Levin v. Commerce Energy

Tune in tomorrow for sketches of Gilbert Arenas‘ sentencing.

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

Jihad Jane Pleads Not Guilty

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Colleen LaRose, who allegedly used the screen names “Jihad Jane” and “Fatima Rose” on Internet postings where she pledged to commit murder in the name of Jihad, appeared cheerful as she greeted her public defenders at her arraignment in a Philadelphia courtroom.  She is accused of plotting the murder of Swedish provocateur and second-rate cartoonist Lars Vilks.

She is a very short woman, pictured here between her attorneys Mark Wilson and Ross Thompson.  Her blond hair was braided in thick cornrows and she appears to have put on some weight since her imprisonment last October, at least compared to the gaunt visage in her mugshot.

NYT story here.

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Posted in Courtroom

The Trend Toward Anonymous Juries

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When former congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson stood trial in Alexandria last summer sketching the jury was not permitted.  Three decades earlier, at the bribery trial of congressman “Dapper” Dan Flood, the “jury-shot” was a standard among the images an artist was expected to turn out, along with the required wide-shot and head-shots.  What happened?

While forbidding artists to sketch the jury is not the same as juror anonymity it is part of the same trend.  Maryland and Virginia are both currently considering proposals to make all juries anonymous.

The reasons usually given for an anonymous jury are : (1) the defendant’s involvement with organized crime, (2) capacity to harm jurors, (3) interference with judicial process, (4) possibility of a severe sentence, and (5) extensive publicity that could expose jurors to harassment.

At the Oklahoma bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh a wall was built in the courtroom specifically to block the artists’ view of the jurors, which while perhaps excessive (trust us!) was understandable.

On the other hand, why the jury in the “Scooter” Libby trial was anonymous (identified by number only) escapes me.

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Historical note: the jurors in Rep. Dan Flood’s trial voted 11-1 to convict on five bribery counts and three counts of perjury.  There followed a jury tampering investigation in which the only juror to vote for acquittal failed two lie-detector tests, but no further legal action was taken.

Flood entered a guilty plea before the start of his second trial.

More about anonymous juries here.

 

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Posted in Congress, Courtroom, History

Second Amendment, Round Two

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Lawyers, journalists and spectators, some of whom camped out in front of the Supreme Court over 26 hours, packed the courtroom as the Justices heard the second Second Amendment case in two years (that’s a lot of twos!).   In Heller v. DC, argued in March 2008, the Court recognized a Second Amendment right for an individual to own a handgun, but it only applied to the District. Today’s case seeks to extend that constitutional right to residents of the States.

NYT article here.

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

Problems With Enron Voir Dire?

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Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s Supreme Court appeal made two arguments: that the honest-services law is too vague, and that jury selection was too cursory. Most of the hour of arguments was spent on the questioning of the potential jurors.

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In his brief rebuttal at the conclusion of arguments Skilling’s lawyer, Sri Srinivasan compared the five hours spent questioning the jury pool to “the Martha Stewart case, for example . . . there were six days of voir dire, . . . And in that case, the only reason you needed an extended voir dire was because of the celebrity status of the defendant.  You didn’t have the deep-seated community passion and prejudice that characterized the Houston venue in this case.”

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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court

Justices Dismiss Uighurs Appeal

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In October 2008 U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered the release of 17 Uighur detainees from Guantanamo into the U.S.  That of course never happen as the order was immediately appealed by the government.  The DC Circuit ruled that only the President and Congress have jurisdiction over immigration matters, and attorneys for the detainees then appealed to the Supreme Court which agreed to hear what had now become a separation of powers case.

With some of the Uighur detainees, ethnic Chinese Muslims who feared persecution if returned to China, already resettled in other countries and the remaining soon to have new homes – see Saved by the Swiss – the Supreme Court chose to send the case back to the DC Circuit.

NYT story here.

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Posted in Courtroom
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