I don’t get down to the U.S. District court in Alexandria much anymore. It used to be a regular trek during the early days of the Bush administration’s war on terror. But this morning I was back at the Albert V. Bryan courthouse to sketch a Romanian email hacker whose nom de guerre is Guccifer (Gucci + Lucifer).
Marcel Lehel Lazar pleaded guilty to two counts related to his breaking into the email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and members of former President Bush’s family. He also claims to have hacked Hillary Clinton’s private email server – “It was like an open orchid on the Internet. There were hundreds of folders.”- but has not produced any proof of that.
Not a good day for the Baltimore State’s Attorney. The first verdict in the trials of police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray found officer Edward Nero innocent of all charges. That outcome seemed likely from day one in this unusual trial where a police officer faced criminal charges for the kind of arrest that is usually defended by city prosecutors.
The trial of officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van in which Freddie Gray sustained the injuries that killed him, will be a different story. That trial begins June 6.
Here are the rest of my sketches from the first day of the trial.
The big news of course on Monday was the Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion in Zubik v. Burwell (and other consolidated cases) that decided nothing but encouraged the two sides to reach a compromise.
The other case left hanging is Spokeo v. Robins. In a 6-2 opinion the Court asked the Ninth Circuit to take another look at the “concreteness” of the harm to Thomas Robins when Spokeo.com posted inaccurate information about him.
An interesting case, and not just because I live in Baltimore.
Majestic Auto Repair was paying up to $300 for each damaged vehicle Baltimore police would steer their way from the scene of an accident. By the time the FBI broke up the deal some sixty officers were involved.
One of the officers, Samuel Ocasio, was tried and convicted on three counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy to commit. He appealed the conspiracy conviction on the grounds that in order to conspire to obtain property “from another,” conspirators must agree to obtain property from someone outside the conspiracy. Since the conspiracy was between Ocasio and the owners of Majestic Auto Repair who were paying the bribes out of their own pockets, and not “from another”, there was no conspiracy.
The Court didn’t buy it. Justice Alito delivered the 5-3 opinion, sketched above. For an in-depth explanation of the opinion go here.