Individual voir dire of potential jurors in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began today and is expected to go on for at least another week.
I lucked out as I was the only media allowed in the courtroom for the questioning of potential jurors (I was later joined by my fellow sketch-artist Jane Collins). The condition was that I not report what I heard, therefor I’ll just post sketches and shut up (my hearing’s not too good anyway).
“Justice Scalia has the opinions in two cases,” the Chief Justice announced as Scalia’s chair sat empty, “he’s asked that I announce them.”
It’s not unusual for the a senior justice to announce the opinion of an absent justice. There are often one or more empty chairs on opinion days when no arguments are heard. But there were two cases to be argued today and unless a justice has recused themselves you can expect that they’ll be on the bench.
Scalia did eventually appear from the maroon curtains behind the bench just as the first argument was getting under way, a sex discrimination case that was really about the EEOC’s failure to use “conciliation” in enforcing Title VII. It turns out the justice was merely delayed in traffic.
You can read Mark Walsh’s account of Scalia’s tardy arrival here on SCOTUSblog.
Here are a couple sketches fro the argument in Mach Mining v. EEOC.
Also spotted in the courtroom today, and also not unusual, was Cecilia Marshall, wife of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall. She is a frequent visitor to the Court.
The Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments about a small town’s attempt to regulate temporary signs directing the way to religious services. I’ll simply post my sketches and, if you want to read about it, I direct you to Lyle’s analysis on SCOTUSblog.
After two days of just barely seeing Tsarnaev through the glare and reflections in the plate glass wall of the jury assembly hall I finally found the sweet spot. For the first time I could plainly see that his left eye is partially shut or swollen.
I’m also certain he uttered something, perhaps under his breath, as the judge mentioned the death penalty. His mouth opened as he stroked his beard and his lips moved.
The lawyers will now review the questionnaires that the prospective jurors have been filling out for the past three days. Next Thursday individual voir dire will begin, and if enough jurors are found opening arguments are expected the final week in January.
For a second day we watched through plate glass as another group of prospective jurors was instructed on the duty and privilege of service. It was a chance to concentrate on capturing some good likeness of Tsarnaev, or as best I could through the glare and reflection in the glass.
More of the same tomorrow.
Hundreds of eastern Massachusetts residents reported for jury duty his morning in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev entered the jury assembly hall with his lawyers. It was difficult to make out through the glare of plate glass that separated the press from the proceedings exactly what he was wearing, but it seemed to me he had on a dark collared shirt with a dark pullover and light pants. At the afternoon session he was wearing only the sweater with no shirt.
Tsarnaev appeared alert as he sat between two of his lawyers, Miriam Conrad on the left and Judy Clarke on the right.
Judge O’Toole instructed the jurors on what to expect, and introduced the lawyers and the defendant.
Two more days of the same, then in the later part of next week we should move on to individual void dire in the courtroom.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty in a Baltimore courtroom yesterday to driving under the influence. He was stopped for speeding in the Fort McHenry tunnel about 1:40 a.m. September 30 after leaving the Horseshoe Casino. District Judge Braverman gave Phelps a one year suspended sentence that now hangs over the 29 year-old swimmer should he slip up. Phelps had a previous DUI ten years ago in Wicomico county.
Phelps’ lawyer, Steven A. Allen, told the court that the swimmer attended a 45-day in-patient treatment in Phoenix and is continuing after-treatment at a facility in Towson. “Mr. Phelps has not been treated differently because of his celebrity status.” Mr. Allen said, “He has really stood up to what has occurred, accepted responsibility and, of course, there is a level of humiliation involved,”
Phelps was accompanied in court by numerous supporters including Ray Lewis and, of course, his mom.
The last time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in court, at his arraignment in July 2013, he looked and sounded quite different. He was wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, his left hand was bandaged and his face swollen from injuries he suffered during the manhunt that followed the Boston Marathon bombing. He spoke with a Russian accent and displayed a certain arrogance or swagger, at least it appeared that way to me. Yesterday was a different story. He was dressed in a dark zip-up sweater, shirt and belted chinos. He seemed quietly interested in what was happening, speaking softly to the judge when questioned. The Russian accent was gone even though an interpreter was present just in case.
All signs point to the trial beginning with jury selection on January 5, as scheduled, though the defense is still asking for a delay. It’s sure to be a long and emotional trial.
I sketched the scene outside the courtroom before the doors opened. There was a tall woman in a long fur coat who talked incessantly with whoever would listen to her. I didn’t pay attention to what she was saying. But later, at the conclusion of the hearing as Tsarnaev was being led from the courtroom, this same woman started shouting in Russian.
It turns out she is the mother-in-law of Ibragim Todashev, who was killed by the FBI under very odd circumstances. At one time Todashev was, along with Dzhokhar’s brother Tamerlan, a suspect in a bizarre murder in the Boston suburb of Waltham. There’s a lot to the story that has yet to be explained.
Here are some sketches from Tuesday at the Supreme Court.
The Court heard arguments in Gelboim v. Bank of America Corp., a case from the Second Circuit which turned down an appeal of a case in a Multi District Litigation because the other consolidated cases were still pending, at least that’s what I think it may be about. It’s complicated.
Opinions in two cases were also announced. Warger v. Shauers, about the admissibility of one juror’s testimony about another juror’s statements (above), and Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, about compensation for employees who have to go through security screen after completing their shift (below).
The Supreme Court today heard arguments testing the regulatory authority of Amtrak, a quasi-private for-profit company created by congress in 1970 to prop up passenger rail service. The tracks are owned by the rail-freight companies but Amtrak gets priority to keep its trains on time.
The case is Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads. You can read Lyle Denniston’s reporting on the argument here.