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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 :

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

Jury Selection Begins In Marathon Bombing Trial



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.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: , , ,

Two Opinions and Multi District Litigation

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).

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

Blagojevich Jury Begin Deliberations


The jury, still including the alternates, is instructed by Judge Zagel. On the right is one of the government’s evidence carts that will go into the jury room.

Tribune story here

Rod Blagojevich

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: , ,

The Trend Toward Anonymous Juries


When former congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson stood trial in Alexandria last summer sketching the jury was not permitted.  Three decades earlier, at the bribery trial of congressman “Dapper” Dan Flood, the “jury-shot” was a standard among the images an artist was expected to turn out, along with the required wide-shot and head-shots.  What happened?

While forbidding artists to sketch the jury is not the same as juror anonymity it is part of the same trend.  Maryland and Virginia are both currently considering proposals to make all juries anonymous.

The reasons usually given for an anonymous jury are : (1) the defendant’s involvement with organized crime, (2) capacity to harm jurors, (3) interference with judicial process, (4) possibility of a severe sentence, and (5) extensive publicity that could expose jurors to harassment.

At the Oklahoma bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh a wall was built in the courtroom specifically to block the artists’ view of the jurors, which while perhaps excessive (trust us!) was understandable.

On the other hand, why the jury in the “Scooter” Libby trial was anonymous (identified by number only) escapes me.

Historical note: the jurors in Rep. Dan Flood’s trial voted 11-1 to convict on five bribery counts and three counts of perjury.  There followed a jury tampering investigation in which the only juror to vote for acquittal failed two lie-detector tests, but no further legal action was taken.

Flood entered a guilty plea before the start of his second trial.

More about anonymous juries here.


Posted in Congress, Courtroom, History Tagged with: ,

Libby juror dismissed


The Libby jury is now down to eleven not too angry men and women after one of the jurors was exposed, innocently the judge said, to outside information.

The dismissed juror, described by some as the haughty Grand Dame, is a retired curator of prints and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a patrician manner and a peculiarity of speech where she slowly, enunciates, every, word, she, utters. She was also the sole juror who did not don a red, heart emblazoned tee-shirt for Valentine’s day.

The feeling among the court watchers is that deliberations may move along more expeditiously now that she is gone.

Washington Post story here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,

Libby jurors continue to listen to tapes


The Jury in the Lewis Libby trial are spending the whole day listening to tapes of his grand jury testimony, all eight hours of it.

Washington Post story here.

Posted in Courtroom Tagged with: ,
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