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Roger Stone Sentencing

Roger Stone’s sentencing became big news when, last week, all four Justice Department lawyers who had prosecuted the case quit after their sentencing memorandum was withdrawn the day after Trump tweeted that it was unfair and too harsh. Attorney General Barr said there was no communication with the White House on the decision to intervene, and went so far as to protest (methinks too much?) that the president’s tweeting made it difficult for him to do his job. A new watered-down sentencing recommendation was produced, and signed by Assistant US Attorney John Crabb.

Asked by Judge Amy Berman Jackson whether he actually wrote the second filing, AUSA Crabb demurred saying, “I’m not at liberty to discuss the internal deliberations in DOJ.”

In the end Judge Jackson imposed a sentence of forty months, well below the seven to nine years initially recommended, but not before chastising at length both Stone and the Department of Justice.

 

Senate Impeachment Sketches, Part II

Here are the final sketches from the Trump impeachment trial, plus a few from the State of the Union the night before the final vote, created on assignment for the New York They appear with commentary on the NYT site here.

Correction: These are not actually the cubbyholes used by senators, those are in the cloakrooms.

 

 

 

Senate Impeachment Sketches, Part I

These sketches of the Trump impeachment trial were created on assignment for the New York Times and appear, with commentary, on its website here.

The sketches below are from the previous week’s oath taking by the Senators and Chief Justice.

 

 

The Chief Justices’ Day Job

Chief Justice Roberts started his second job last Tuesday, presiding over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump which on the first day when into the wee hours of the next. Nevertheless, after what must have been a tedious employ, Roberts appeared rested and engaged Wednesday morning when the Court heard argument in a significant establishment clause case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of RevenueThe case began when parents sued the state revenue department after it ruled that tax credit scholarship programs could not be used for religious schools, which the majority of recipients were. The Montana Supreme Court invalidated the entire program, for both religious and secular schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who favors a similar federal tax credit program, was in the audience.

On Tuesday, before heading over to the Senate for that first, long day, I did just one sketch of the 10:00 o’clock Armed Career Criminal Act argument, Shular v. United States.

 

 

 

Bridgegate, Boomers and Dungarees

Note, the original version of this post mysteriously vanished without a trace so I’ve had to re-create a lesser version. 

The case that drew the most attention during last week’s arguments was one brought by a former ally of New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The petitioner, Bridget Anne Kelly, a former aide to Gov. Christie, and William Baroni, a former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted of conspiracy and fraud for their part in a scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. In what came to be known as “Bridgegate”, they and another official, David Wildstein, ordered several lanes to the George Washington Bridge toll plaza closed in 2013 during rush hour causing massive backups. When the scandal came to light it pretty much sank Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign.

As expected, both Kelly and Baroni were in the courtroom for Tuesday’s argument in Kelly v. United States. What nobody expected was that Chris Christie would show, and be seated directly in front of Kelly.

On Monday the Court heard a trademark case, Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group Inc., and a case related to employee retirement benefits. Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A..

The Chief Justice drew some laughs Wednesday when, during an argument involving the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Babb v. Wilkie, he asked the following hypothetical, “The hiring person is younger, [and] says, you know, ‘OK, boomer’ … once to the applicant.”