Justice Thomas was absent from the bench – “indisposed due to illness” said the Chief Justice after formally announcing the beginning of the new term.
The Justices then heard argument in the first case, Kahler v. Kansas, on whether states can abolish the insanity defense. Under a recent change to the “Guide for Counsel Arguing Cases” lawyers are now allowed two minutes, uninterrupted, to make their case before the justices jump in with questions. A light on the lectern briefly flashed before Justice Ginsburg jumped in with the first question of the term.
In addition to another morning argument, which I did not attend, the Court heard a rare afternoon argument in Ramos v. Louisiana on the requirement for state juries to reach unanimous verdicts.
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 :
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.
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 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