Tsarnaev Hearing On Motions

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not in the courtroom today as his defense team, pictured above, argued before Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. on a motion lift the “Special Administrative Measures”, or SAMS, that interfere with this defendant communicating with his lawyers. Other issues discussed today concerned change of venue and whether the death penalty will be sought for the accused Boston marathon bomber. The government asked to set a trial date sometime next fall, but the judge opted to wait until those other issues are decided.

Andrew Cohen’s story on SAMs is here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: , ,

A Visit to the Fourth Circuit

Last week I travelled down to Richmond to hear some arguments before the Fourth Circuit. The highlight was a cock-fighting case from South Carolina – unfortunately not the one I sketched.

In a tradition that reeks of southern gentility the judges, at the conclusion of each argument, come down from the bench to shake hands with the lawyers in the case.

I also had a chance to do a little sketching on the streets of Richmond.

Posted in Appellate Courts Tagged with: ,

Gambling on Nevada Venue Not a Sure Thing

When professional gamblers Gina Fiore and Keith Gipson passed through the Atlanta airport on their way home to Nevada after a gambling trip to Puerto Rico a search of their bags turned up $97,000 in cash. The DEA was contacted and Fiore and Gipson were detained for questioning. They told Anthony Walden, a local police officer deputized as DEA agent, that they learned the cash legitimately at the gambling tables. Nevertheless the cash was seized and Walden told them that they would get it back once they provided proper documentation.

Upon their return to Las Vegas they sent the necessary documentation, but the DEA continued to hold on to the cash based on a questionable affidavit drafted by Walden. Eventually the money was returned and the gamblers filed a lawsuit against officer Walden in Nevada federal court.

The question before the Supreme Court at Monday’s argument in Walden v. Fiore is whether the court in Nevada has jurisdiction over an officer doing his job in Georgia and where should the case be tried. The above sketch shows Walden’s lawyer, Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, arguing that the case belongs in Georgia.

Tom Goldstein, on the other hand, argued that the injury occurred in Nevada and, as the Ninth Circuit concluded, should be tried there. He concluded by warning, “. . . if that’s not enough, you are closing the door absolutely to all internet cases . . . where someone sits at the computer and targets someone in another State.

 

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

A Lively Argument on Government Prayer

Prayer at public government sessions was back before the Supreme Court this morning. It’s been thirty years since the Court last visited the issue when it ruled that it was constitutional for the Nebraska legislature to begin the day with a prayer. This time the prayer is at local government meetings of the Town of Greece, New York.

There was enough interest in the case for a group of law students spent the night in line outside the Court. Once they finally got their seat passes this morning, the Court’s cafeteria was a good place for a nap.Also in the cafeteria were several clergy, and I spied a group of nuns in the courtroom admiring the friezes, buttocks and all.

Attorney Thomas Hungar argued for the Town of Greece. As Hungar began Justice Kagan interrupted him to read an overtly Christian prayer from the record and asked if that would be permissible here at the Supreme Court.

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, representing the two women who are challenging the town’s prayer, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, was asked by Justice Alito to give an example of a prayer that would not offend anyone. “I don’t think it’s possible,” said Alito, “to compose anything that you could call a prayer that will be acceptable to all of these groups.” “You can’t treat everyone equally without getting rid of prayer altogether,” Laycock responded.

The case is Town of Greece v. Galloway

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

Chemical Weapons Prosecution Spurs Lively Argument

When Carol Anne Bond’s best friend gave birth to a baby fathered by her, Bond’s, husband, she sought revenge. She applied toxic chemicals to her friend’s mailbox, doorknobs, etc. She was caught on video surveillance and arrested, but the local authorities choose not to press charges. Instead she was charged in federal court under the Chemical Weapons Convention because she put postal workers at risk.

 

Arguing for Bond, Paul Clement told the justices that prosecutors had overreached; that the treaty should only apply to “warlike” uses of chemicals, and not to attempts to poison a “romantic rival”.

Solicitor General Verrilli had a harder time at the lectern trying to convince the Court to not put limits on the implementation of international treaties.

Among the many hypotheticals posed to the Solicitor General was a statement from Justice Alito that he and his wife had passed out “chemical weapons” to children -i.e., Halloween chocolate. Why, he asked, would that not fall under the Chemical Weapons Convention since the treaty bans any chemical harmful to animals as well as humans, and, he noted, “chocolate is poisonous to dogs”.

The case is Bond v. U.S.

Lyle Denniston covers the argument here.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

The 2004 Guantanamo Military Commissions

Last week NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story about Guantanamo sketch artist Janet Hamlin saying, “When the secretive military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay began, only one courtroom sketch artist was allowed in. Her name is Janet Hamlin.” That’s not exactly correct.

Janet is a great artist and has done a great job visually documenting the tribunals created  under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. She has recently come out with a book of her drawings, “Sketching Guantanamo, Court Sketches of the Military Tribunals, 2006-2013″, that is a must buy. But I just want to set the record straight that the first Military Commissions were in 2004. The Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld found that they violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and The Geneva Conventions, and that the president did not have the authority to create them without authorization of Congress.

So, to be correct, when the secretive military tribunals at Guantanamo began, in 2004, only one artist was allowed in, me. Below are some of my sketches, never before posted -it was before I had a blog, done during four days in August 2004 at Guantanamo.

Above, NGO observers; below, members of the arabic language press.

I wasn’t allowed to portray the likenesses of the detainees or Guantanamo personnel.

Above Australian detainee David Hicks, seated, his military lawyers’ hand on his back. Hicks’ parents are in the left foreground.

Posted in Military Tagged with: ,

Tradition vs. Transparency

My sketch of a panel discussion hosted by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on transparency – read cameras – in the Supreme Court that took place at The National Press Club this morning.

The panel, from right to left, was composed of Alan Morrisson, Pete Williams, Neal Katyal, Maureen O’Connor, Ken Starr and moderator Tony Mauro. They all pretty much agreed – with a teeny bit of reservation from Katyal – that cameras are inevitable and belong in the Supreme Court.

Posted in Supreme Court, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Miranda and Metaphysics

Scott Cheever, a long time user of crystal meth,  shot and killed an officer while high. At trial he used the defense that in his intoxicated state he could not have formed the “intent to kill” that would get him the death penalty.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death, but during the trial in state court the prosecution called to the witness stand a psychiatrist who had earlier examined the defendant under a federal court order, before the case was transferred to state court. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the state violated Cheever’s Fifth amendment right against self-incrimination by calling the psychiatrist to testify.

The question before the U.S. Supreme Court today, are statements made by a defendant during a court-ordered mental evaluation protected under the fifth amendment?

Several times during the argument reference was made to “peering into the defendant’s mind”.  Does it seem fair, as Cheever’s attorney, Neal Katyal, put it  “that the government can peer into someone’s mind and extract information . . . un-Mirandized . . . and have that used against them”?  . . . After all isn’t it just a little bit like cheating on your metaphysics final by looking into the soul of the boy sitting next to you ? . . . (apologies to Woody Allen)

By the end of the argument it wasn’t looking good for Scott Cheever as Justice Sotomayor asked his lawyer, “Mr. Katyal, assuming the incredulity of my colleagues . . . which way would you rather lose?

 

 

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

Michigan’s Affirmative Action Ban

The Supreme Court this afternoon heard arguments on Michigan’s “Proposal 2″, a voter-approved law that forbids the use of race in college admissions, as well as public employment and contracting. The case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (note that I’ve labeled my drawings “Schuette v. BAMN” because it’s shorter. BAMN stands for “By Any Means Necessary”, and comes from the challenger’s full title, Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary). But enough from me. Here are the sketches.

Lyle Denniston has the full story here.

 

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

Mercedes-Benz USA Liable for Argentine Atrocities?

Can the Daimler AG’s subsidiary, Mercedes-Benz USA, be in sued in California courts for human rights violations committed over thirty years ago during Argentina’s “Dirty War”?  The Ninth Circuit said yes, but the Supreme Court clearly does not agree.

The lawyer for the victims of Argentine state terrorism, Kevin Russell, had an uphill battle. The best he may hope for is that the case is sent back to the lower courts.

Lyle Denniston’s analysis of the argument is here.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,
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