Category: Courtroom

An Antitrust Trial

It’s not getting much attention but there’s a pretty important antitrust trial underway in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. The Justice Department is seeking to block the merger, actually more of a takeover, between the insurance companies Anthem and Cigna. Each side, of course, argues opposite results for the health care consumer.

Anthem’s CEO, Joseph R. Swedish testified on the first two days of trial which began last Monday and is expected to end before the new year. Another antitrust lawsuit, this time between Aetna and Humana, begins December 5.

A news story about the trial can be found here.

 

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Harold Martin, Nutcase or Operative?

“You have someone here who presents himself as two different people,” said Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite at a detention hearing in Baltimore for the purloiner of tons of NSA files.

The government painted a picture of a serial lawbreaker who knowingly removed boxes of documents and terabytes of electronic files from the NSA, and kept an arsenal of weapons in his home.

Martin’s lawyer, Federal Public Defender James Wyda, by contrast said his client is a hoarder with a drinking problem. “The mental health factor is the only explanation for this that makes sense.”

Harold T. Martin III has so far only been charged with theft and retention of classified material. Although the law only allows detention based on flight risk for such minor offenses the government still argued about the danger he posed to national security.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers told the judge,“There’s no guarantee that he’s not storing other information somewhere else that he has not told us about.”

Additional charges under the Espionage Act are expected.

NYT story here.

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Romanian Email Hacker Guccifer

A little late in posting this but here are sketches from last week’s sentencing hearing for Romanian email hacker Marcel Lehel Lazar, aka “Guccifer”.

Lazar displayed a fairly cocky attitude as judge James Cacheris sentenced him to 52 months  for hacking into the email accounts of prominent Americans including former secretary of state Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal. It was Lazar who first revealed that Clinton used a private email account while secretary of state, though the government denies that he ever gained hacked her account.

More about the sentencing here.

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DC Transit Officer Aids ISIS

Material Support to ISIS

A DC Metro Transit police officer charged with providing material support to ISIS made a five minute appearance before a magistrate in Alexandria yesterday where he asked for a lawyer. Another hearing is scheduled for today at 2:00 p.m.

According to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney, Nicholas Young first came to their attention in 2010 when an acquaintance of his, Zachary Chesser, was arrested trying to board a flight to Uganda to join al-Shabab. The FBI watched Young for years, setting up meetings with undercover agents. One meeting, at a restaurant, included Amine el-Khalifi who was later charged with attempting to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

Agents finally moved in and arrested Young yesterday morning after he sent $245 worth of gift-card codes to what he thought was ISIS, but was in fact an FBI sting operation.

In the courtroom Young, with long hair and bearded, did not look like a typical transit police officer. He may have been undercover, though the blue striped slacks he wore appeared to be from a uniform. Of course, with U.S. Marshals (pictured on the right) sporting mohawks, who knows?

Sketch: Alexandria Courthouse

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Marilyn Mosby’s Bad Day

Goodson Trial: Verdict

This was the big one, and the State couldn’t prove it. Three of the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddy Gray last April have gone to trial and so far not one conviction on any charge. Might Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby have overreached?

Goodson Trial: Verdict

Everyone knew that the charge of “depraved heart” murder would not stick, but not guilty on all counts? Judge Barry Williams, who is presiding over all of the Freddie Gray cases, sent a clear message, the State had no case.

If it was a bad day for Marilyn Mosby, it was a very good day for officer Caesar Goodson.

Goodson Trial: Verdict

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Goodson Closing Arguments

Goodson Trial

My sketches from yesterday’s closing arguments in the trial of Baltimore Police officer Caesar Goodson. He drove the van in which Freddie Gray suffered injuries that led to his death last April and the ensuing riots the day of his funeral.

Judge Barry Williams will announce the verdict on Thursday morning.

Goodson Trial

Goodson Trial

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The Make Or Break Freddie Gray Trial

Freddie Gray: Goodson Trial

After one mistrial and one acquittal a lot is riding on the prosecution of the van driver facing the most serious charge in the death of Freddie Gray. During opening statements Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow promised to show that Freddie Gray had been given a “rough ride” in the police van without the benefit of a seatbelt result in the spinal injury that caused his death.

I missed most of the trial last week but from what I’ve read, especially the judge’s remarks during motions, a conviction on the charge of depraved heart murder seems a stretch. We’ll know soon enough. I’ll be there to sketch closing arguments Monday morning.

Freddie Gray: Goodson Trial

Freddie Gray: Goodson Trial

Freddie Gray: Goodson Trial

Freddie Gray: Goodson Trial

 

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Guccifer In Alexandria

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.

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First Freddie Gray Verdict Not Guilty

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.

 

 

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Hastert Sentencing

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was sentenced Wednesday on one count of “structuring” bank withdrawals to which he had pleaded guilty last year. But of course it wasn’t at all about a financial technicality. Hastert was confronted in the courtroom with testimony from one of his victims, and from the sister of another victim now deceased. The hearing lasted about two hours, with Judge Thomas M. Durkin taking the last forty-five minutes to explain his sentence of fifteen months, far more than prosecutors recommended.

Hastert, who sat in a wheelchair through most of the hearing, was helped to a walker and apologized from the podium. “The thing I want to do today is say I’m sorry to those I hurt and misled,” he said, “I want to apologize to the boys I mistreated when I was their coach. What I did was wrong and I regret it.”

Judge Durkin then asked Hastert if he had in fact sexually abused his victims. After some hesitation Hastert answered, “Yes” to sexually abusing victim B. For two other victims he said he couldn’t remember, and that it was “a different situation,” but didn’t dispute the accusations.

“The defendant is a serial child molester,” said Judge Durkin. “Some actions can obliterate a lifetime of good works. Nothing is more stunning than having ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the House’ in the same sentence.”

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