Year: 2011

McQueary Testifies


Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary gave public testimony for the first time yesterday to a packed Dauphin County courtroom in Harrisburg.


Questioned by Deputy DA Bruce Beemer, McQueary told the court that he saw Jerry Sandusky having sex with a young boy in the locker room showers.


He described hearing a “rhythmic, slapping sound” and saw Sandusky standing behind a boy in the shower “having some sort of intercourse with him”.


The defendants are two Penn State administrators, Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, who are charged with lying to a grand jury about what was reported to them. Neither ever reported the incident to police.


McQueary’s father, John, also testified. His son called him shortly after witnessing the assault and they also discussed in person what to do about it. “I’m now in the position to say Gary Schultz did nothing about it,” John McQueary testified.

NYT story is here.



Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,

Sandusky Will Face His Accusers Another Day

In a crowded ornate courtroom Jerry Sandusky told Judge Robert E. Scott that he wished to waive the preliminary hearing where some of his accusers were prepared to testify. Sandusky111213wide
These are a few sketches from his short appearance in court.



And you can read about it here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,

SCOTUS Watercolors

Here are some sketches I did – still working on my watercolor chops – of arguments in two cases before the Supreme Court today. SC111207_Shapiro

The first, Mayo Medical Laboratories v. Prometheus Laboratories, is a very complex case about whether you can patent a natural process, in this case monitoring the metabolites a drug. SC111207_Bress

I can’t begin to explain it, but Lyle Denniston can. Click here for his analysis.

In the second case, PPL Montana, LLC v. Montana, the Justices were asked to reference the journals of Lewis and Clark to determine if a river in Montana was once navigable. SC111207_Clement

It seems that title to the riverbeds beneath commercially navigable waterways belong to the states, and those of non-navigable rivers belong to the nation. I did not know that. SC111207_Garre

The dispute  is between a Montana power company that operates several dams on the river and the State of Montana which says it is owed over $50 million in rent and interest.

You can read about it here.








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Confrontation Clause Arguments

In two recent cases the Supreme Court has expanded Sixth Amendment right to confront a witness to include the lab technician who actually did the test.

In today’s argument the petitioner is challenging his conviction because the lab tech who performed a DNA test was not called to testify, but his report was introduced through the testimony of another expert witness. SC111206wide_Carroll

Justice Alito asked petitioner’s lawyer, Brian Carroll, “Hasn’t it long been accepted that experts may testify to the facts that form the basis for their opinions?” SC111206_Carroll

When it was State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s turn at the lectern Justice Scalia said, “We don’t know how good the individuals who did the test were. And that’s why it’s up to the state to bring forward testimony saying what the lab did. And the only testimony they brought forward was the testimony of this witness who was not there.” SC111206_Alvarez

Nor did Justice Kennedy seemed convinced as Mike Sacks tell it here.






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Unwarranted Warrant?

How far can the police go in procuring a warrant based on an affidavit “so lacking in indicia of probable cause” that the resulting search not only violates the Fourth Amendment, but exposes the officer to civil action? Beats me. SC111205wide_Wolfson

I wasn’t in court to cover the story, but rather to try out a new combination of sketching media. Here’s what I came away with. SC111205_Coates


This was not the usual audience of spectators. I don’t think they had anything to do with the cases being argued, and in fact they looked a little bored. SC111205_Arabs

The case is Messerschmidt v. Millender.





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Hinckley Back in Court

Every few years over the past two decades John Hinckley has gone before a judge seeking more freedom from St. Elizabeths Hospital where he has been a patient since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Hinckley, now 56, was back in court yesterday asking to extend visits to his mother’s Williamsburg home to up to 24 days, and eventually transition to living full-time in the community. He is currently allowed 10-day visits away from the hospital.


Tyler G. Jones, director of psychiatry at St. Elizabeths, was the first witness called by Hinckley’s lawyer, Barry Levine, from a list that includes family members, doctors and therapists.


The government is vigorously opposing more liberty for Hinckley. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Chasson in her opening told the court that during one of his visits Hinckley lied about going to a movie and instead was observed by the Secret Service going to a Barnes & Noble where he browsed book titles on Reagan and presidential assassinations.

Del Wilbur has the story here.



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Does Standing Require Injury?

The 1974 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act bars, among other things, kickbacks by title insurance companies. Under the law a plaintiff can sue without having to show actual injury. At least that was the argument made by the lawyer representing Denise Edwards, the homebuyer in this case who sued First American Financial Corp. SC111128_Lamken

But it was an uphill battle. Justice Scalia questioned, “I’m not even sure it’s proper to call it a kickback. It’s a commission.” And Justice Alito told Edwards’ attorney, Jeffrey Lamken, “We are looking for whether there is injury in fact.” SC111128_Panner

In his rebuttal Aaron M. Panner, the lawyer for First American, reaffirmed that “what is required is an injury-in-fact, a harm to the plaintiff who is seeking to obtain redress from the courts.

Mike Sacks brilliant analysis of the argument is here.




Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

The Cheese and the Worms in Bologna

These are sketches of historian Carlo Ginzburg being interviewed by artist Jorge Satorre in Bologna. Ginzburg is the author of that seminal work of microhistory, Il fromaggio e i vermi, The Cheese and The Worms. Menocchio110929_Satorre_Ginsburg





Posted in History Tagged with: , ,

“It’s not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus.”

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez appeared before Magistrate Judge Alan Kay today, charged with attempting to assassinate the president by firing an AK-47 at the White House.  Ortega111121wide

He does indeed look a bit like Jesus, as he told Oprah in this home videoOrtega111121_jesus

AP story here.

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The Meat of Preemption

In 2009, in reaction to a disturbing Humane Society video documenting the mistreatment animals at one of its slaughterhouses, California passed a law banning the purchase, sale and butchering of animals that are unable to walk to their demise.  SC111109_Wells

Such non-ambulatory, “downer” animals were to be immediately euthanized. But the Federal Meat Inspection Act says that for some animals, in this case swine, an inspector should determine if the animal is sick and unfit for human consumption, or merely tired and lazy. SC111109_Smith

During yesterday’s arguments it appeared that the Justices are incline to strike down California’s law because Federal law trumps, or preempts, State law.  Still, it’s not that simple.

Justice Breyer:  “Do we have to write an 11-part opinion where we treat each of these different things, which are different, separately and analyze it?  To write an 11 part opinion or do we treat each of these differently separately and analyze it.  I’m not trying to get out of work.  I just want to know.” 

Justice Scalia: “I’d like to get out of the work, to tell you the truth.”

WaPo story here.






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