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June End Of Term Sketches

June is when the Supreme Court releases the last of its opinions in cases argued earlier during the term, especially the harder to decide cases. This term big news on the last day was about a case yet to be argued, when the Court agreed to hear Trump’s travel ban in the next term.

In other Supreme Court news, after announcing the disposition of the remaining cases, and other housekeeping matters, the Chief Justice noted the retirement of Lyle Denniston, a veteran of nearly 60 years covering the Court and known as the dean of the Supreme Court press.

Here are some sketches from the Court’s June opinions. More June sketches are on my online archives.

Chief Justice Roberts announcing disposition of the term’s remaining cases, as well as the travel ban.

Gorsuch Investiture

My sketch of Justice Gorsuch’s investiture ceremony at the Supreme Court yesterday. President Trump and first lady Melania attended, seated between Justice Kennedy’s wife, Mary, and retired Justice Stevens (not shown). Also present but not shown in my sketch were several former Attorney Generals, members of the Senate Judiciary (but not Grassley), and the new justice’s wife and daughters.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is shown at the lectern holding a scroll, really a prop onto which were pasted the words of Gorsuch’s formal commission.

The Last Hours Of Timothy Piazza

 

A preliminary hearing began yesterday for members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State charged in the death Timothy Piazza. Piazza was one of the pledges made to run a gantlet of drinking stations on the night of February 2. He suffered serious injuries while falling-down drunk, including a skull fracture and ruptured spleen.

Piazza’s parents were in the Bellefonte courtroom as the hearing got underway. Timothy’s father visibly struggled with grief, his fingers shaking, when a photo of his unconscious son, intubated in the ICU was exhibited on a screen.

Difficult to watch closed-circuit video of Timothy Piazza’s dying hours showed him alone through the night, still inebriated and in pain, stumbling and thrashing about on the frat house ground floor. 

By morning, as the house wakes up, Piazza is found in the basement and brought upstairs. His skin is gray, his legs and arms rigid . . . he appears dead. Yet no one calls 911. The frat brothers move him to a couch, put a blanket on him, try to put a t-shirt on him, and start cleaning up the house. Some just stand around, cell phones in hand.

District attorney Stacy Parks Miller repeatedly asks the witness, Detective Scicchitano, “Has anyone called 911 yet?” For the longest time the answer is “No”.