Today’s SCOTUS Sketches

As arguments were about to begin today Chief Justice Roberts reminded lawyers of Chief Justice Rehnquist’s admonition to not look up at the courtroom clock. The reason, not the same as Rehnquist’s, was that the two clocks in the courtroom were showing different times, neither of which was correct, and the minutes hands were moving in stops and starts. It seems that, just like last year, setting the Court’s clocks back an hour at the end of Daylight Saving is no easy matter.

The Court heard two interesting arguments, neither of which I’ll comment on since I’m about as good at explaining as the Court is at setting a clock.

The first argument, Foster v Chatman :

. . . and the second argument, Spokeo v. Robins :

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Ahmed Abu Khatallah

It had been almost a year since the only suspect in the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi appeared in court a couple weeks ago. Still looking very much like an Old Testament prophet, Khatallah took notes as defense lawyers asked a judge to throw out some of the charges against him.

The judge did not rule on the defense motions. No trial date has been set, nor has the government decided whether to seek the death penalty.

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A Couple Of Sentencing Arguments

Last week seems like a long time ago. I’ve been busy with some personal business – all good – and never got around to posting the sketches from last weeks arguments in Montgomery v. Louisiana and Hurst v. Florida.

The first argument concerned inmates who as juveniles were automatically sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The Court three years ago, in Miller v. Alabamaruled that although juveniles could receive a life sentence it couldn’t be automatic. The issue here is whether that applies retroactively.

The second argument looked at the role of juries in determining sentence in Florida death penalty cases.

 

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An Extortion Conspiracy From Baltimore’s Finest

A couple sketches from Tuesday’s Supreme Court argument in Ocasio v. U.S.. The case case involves members of the Baltimore police who received kickbacks for steering business to Majestic Auto Repair. Arriving on the scene of an auto accident the officer would encourage the driver of a damaged vehicle to have it towed to Majestic. In exchange officers would receive a $150. referral fee, later upped to $300.

One of the officers, Samuel Ocasio, who was convicted of conspiracy under the Hobbs Act for obtaining of property “from another, with his consent, . . . under color of official right”, appealed, arguing that the statute requires that the alleged conspirators agree among themselves to obtain property “from another”—that is, from someone outside the conspiracy. Since the bribe came from Majestic, and they were part of the conspiracy, there was no conspiracy, so the argument goes.

Not sure the Justices bought it

 

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First Monday In October

The Supreme Court began its new term on a beautiful fall morning much appreciated after several grey days of wind and rain.

The argument heard was a case in which a woman, Carol Sachs, who while traveling on a Eurail Pass had suffered a horrible injury while boarding a train in Austria, is seeking to sue the European railway in U.S. courts. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act such a lawsuit is barred except  in commercial dealings. Because she bought her ticket in the United States, Sachs argues that her case falls under that exception.

SCOTUSblog’s analysis of the argument is here

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Contempt Hearing Over Gay Marriage

There weren’t many people at the federal courthouse in Ashland, KY when I arrived this morning around seven o’clock.This couple had been there since before five.

Those opposed to same-sex marriage stood on the left with their signs, while on the right stood the supporters of marriage equality. In the middle stood a young man in a Jesus t-shirt who appeared to be praying the whole time, sometimes standing, sometimes kneeling on the courthouse steps.

The occasion was a contempt of court hearing for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Defying a judge’s order, Davis has refuse to issue any marriage licenses because of her personal belief that gay marriage violates God’s law.After hearing testimony from Davis and from a witness for the plaintiffs Judge David L. Bunning ordered Davis jailed for contempt. U.S. Marshals ushered her out of the courtroom.The judge then heard from several of Davis’ deputies, asking them if they were willing to issue marriage licenses in her absence. All but one, Kim Davis’ son, said they were. The sketch below shows some of those Rowan County deputy clerks sitting behind Ms Davis as her lawyer, Roger Gannan, addresses the court.Later in the afternoon it looked like there might be a deal in the works to free Kim Davis. The judge ordered her brought back to the courtroom and it was expected he might let Davis go if she agreed to stand aside and allow her deputies to issue the licenses. But her attorney told the judge that she was unwilling to budge from her position and she was not brought into the courtroom after all.

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Tom Brady And NFL Back In Court: Deflategate Part II

Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were back in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday after again failing to come to a settlement over Brady’s four game Deflategate suspension. Judge Richard Berman said he would therefore rule on the issue in the next few days.

The hearing was quite short, under ten minutes, and Brady sat behind the lawyers partially obscured by a badly placed lectern. That, and the pressure to  get a good likeness after the last hearing’s viral Twitter bashing of another artist’s sketch just made the job a little more difficult.

 

 

 

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Tsarnaev Sentencing Sketches

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death on Wednesday. After two dozen victims and family made statements about suffering, strength, courage, and love, Tsarnaev was given the opportunity to address the court. It was the first time, except for a few words uttered at his arraignment in 2013, that we’ve heard him speak. He spoke in a soft, accented voice pausing between sentences. Whether he actually apologized is debatable. His entire statement is at the end of this post, so you can decide for yourself.

“What will be remembered,” Judge O’Toole told Tsarnaev at the conclusion of sentencing, “is the evil you have done.”

Anyway, here are the sketches.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s statement to the court:

Thank you, your Honor, for giving me an opportunity to speak. I would like to begin in the name of Allah, the exalted and glorious, the most gracious, the most merciful, “Allah” among the most beautiful names. Any act that does not begin in the name of God is separate from goodness.

 

This is the blessed month of Ramadan, and it is the month of mercy from Allah to his creation, a month to ask forgiveness of Allah and of his creation, a month to express gratitude to Allah and to his creation. It’s the month of reconciliation, a month of patience, a month during which hearts change. Indeed, a month of many blessings.

 

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said if you have not thanked the people, you have not thanked God. So I would like to first thank my attorneys, those who sit at this table, the table behind me, and many more behind the scenes. They have done much good for me, for my family. They made my life the last two years very easy. I cherish their company. They’re lovely companions. I thank you.

 

I would like to thank those who took time out of their daily lives to come and testify on my behalf despite the pressure. I’d like to thank the jury for their service, and the Court. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.

 

Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.

 

Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Qur’an that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.

 

Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done. Irreparable damage.

 

Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Qur’an that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.

 

I ask Allah to have mercy upon me and my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon those present here today. And Allah knows best those deserving of his mercy. And I ask Allah to have mercy upon the ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Amin. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

 

Thank you.

 

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Obamacare and Fair Housing

Didn’t have a chance to post yesterday’s sketches of two major Supreme Court decisions, Texas Dept. of Housing v. Inclusive Communities and King v. Burwell.

The big one, of course, was Obamacare and for the second time Chief Justice Roberts authored an opinion the saved Affordable Health Care.

I scanned the wide-shot before filling in the foreground with watercolor, and I think I like the result. Maybe I’ll continue this way, plus I’m naturally lazy and it’s less work.

And below is Justice Kennedy announcing his opinion reaffirming the Fair Housing Act ban on unintentional discrimination.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

Historic Day For Gay Couples

Gay-rights lawyers were seated in the first rows close to the bench when the opinion in Obergefell v Hodges was announced by Justice Kennedy. As it became clear that they had won big, that the Court had recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, smiles broke out, backs were patted, and, once the Justices had left the bench, hugs all around.

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