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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Virginia Thomas’s Message to Anita Hill [via The New Yorker]

The New Yorker is reporting that Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, placed a call at 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning to Anita Hill, a former employee of the justice’s whose testimony during his confirmation hearings nearly two decades ago almost derailed his nomination. Hill testified that Thomas had previously harassed her by, among other things, discussing pornography incessantly when the two worked at the EEOC. Thomas’s alleged message included: “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

What happens when a country loses its ‘birth certificate’? [via the BBC]

Fiji has spent five years searching in desk drawers and under break room couches for its Independence Order, the legal document confirming its freedom from the United Kingdom presented in 1970, but the nation has been “forced to take the embarrassing step of asking its former colonial masters for a photocopy.” Fortunately for the island nation, the paper’s loss probably doesn’t carry any real danger. “If it’s recognised as a state and fully participates in the international community, the loss of documents isn’t going to affect its existence [as an independent state],” said Catherine Redgwell, a professor of international law at University College London.

Canadian military officer exposed as cross-dressing serial killer [via The Daily Telegraph]

Col. Russell Williams, 47, of the Canadian Air Force, has “pleaded guilty to murdering two women, sexually assaulting two others and committing dozens of break-ins in which he stole underwear from the bedrooms of girls as young as 11,” and faces life in prison. Prior to his arrest, Williams commanded the nation’s largest air force base and personally flew Queen Elizabeth II during a visit several years ago. Prosecutors said Williams photographed himself in, and later stole, his victims’ underwear, photographs with date stamps later used to charge him.

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Last night Delaware Senate candidates Chris Coons and Christine O’Donnell debated live on primetime CNN (before cutting away to cover the ongoing miner rescues in Chile).

The most widely talked-about moment came when moderator Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media asked O’Donnell about which recent Supreme Court rulings with which she disagreed. O’Donnell fumbled the question. Video and transcript are below.

KARIBJANIAN: Well, we’ve talked about the Supreme Court, and obviously a United States senator has the opportunity to determine in a way the make-up of that court. So what opinions of late that have come from our high court do you most object to?

O’DONNELL: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one, I’m sorry.

KARIBJANIAN: Actually, I can’t, because I need you to tell me which ones you object to.

O’DONNELL: I’m very sorry. Right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot, but I’ll put it up on my Web site, I promise you.

BLITZER: Well, we know you disagree with Roe versus Wade.

O’DONNELL: Yes, but that was — she said a recent one.

BLITZER: Well, that’s relatively recent.

O’DONNELL: She said, of late.

Yes, well, Roe versus Wade would not put the power — sorry, it’s 30 (ph)…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But since then, have there been any other…

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: … Supreme Court decisions?

O’DONNELL: Well, let me say, about Roe versus Wade, Roe versus Wade, if that were overturned, would not make abortion illegal in the United States, it would put the power back to the states.

BLITZER: But besides that decision, anything else you disagree with?

O’DONNELL: Oh, there are several, when it comes to pornography, when it comes to court decisions, not just Supreme Court, but federal court decisions to give terrorists Miranda-ized rights.

I mean, there are a lot of things that I believe that — this California decision to overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, I believe that there are a lot of federal judges who are legislating from the bench.

BLITZER: That wasn’t the Supreme Court, it’s a lower court.

O’DONNELL: That was a federal judge — that’s what I said, in California.

O’Donnell’s campaign later clarified that she opposes the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London, which in a 5-4 decision held that “the city’s taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a ‘public use’ within the meaning of the takings clause.”

O’Donnell also defended herself against controversial comments she made on Bill Maher’s talk show “Politically Incorrect,” including a claim that she once dabbled in witchcraft and her belief that evolution is a myth.

“This election cycle should not be about comments I made on a comedy show over a decade and a half ago,” she said. In a similar vein, however, she attacked an article written by Coons in his college newspaper in which he described himself as a “bearded Marxist,” saying, “Forget the bearded Marxist comment, you writing an article saying that you learned your beliefs from an articulate, intelligent Marxist professor and that’s what made you become a Democrat, that should send chills up the spine of every Delaware voter.”

Coons defended the article as ironic.

It’s an article that I wrote as a senior the day of our commencement speech and the title and the content of that clearly makes it obvious that it was a joke. There was a group of folks who I had shared a room with, my roommates junior year, who are in the Young Republican Club and who thought when I returned from Kenya and registered as a Democrat that doing so was proof that I had gone all the way over to the far left end, and so they jokingly called me a bearded Marxist. If you take five minutes and read the article, it’s clear on the face of it, it was a joke. Despite that, my opponent and lots of folks in the right wing media have endlessly spun this. I am not now, nor have I ever been, anything but a clean-shaven capitalist.

So how did the candidates fare through the debate? Coverage has largely focused on O’Donnell, who worked to lower expectations on her performance. The debate would do little to change voters’ minds, Salon’s Steve Kornacki wrote, unless O’Donnell were “able to create some kind of breakthrough moment – or would Coons commit some kind of paralyzing gaffe?” Coons, Kornacki concludes, did not mess up in any meaningful way.

Coons was probably a bit too dismissive of O’Donnell at times, frequently prefacing his replies to her statements by shaking his head and marveling that “there’s just so much there” to respond to. Voters already see that O’Donnell as something of a lunatic; they don’t need Coons pointing it out to them over and over. But his stylistic sins were minor and he committed no major gaffes. Die-hard conservatives surely found plenty of ideological objections to Coons’ statements, but they’re already in O’Donnell’s camp.

Courtesy of the Washington Times

Slate’s Dave Weigel, a Delaware native, noted that he listened to the “over-played” debate and continues to be amazed that the national media is interested in a race where Coons has nearly a 20-point spread.

She’s a competent TV pundit who doesn’t really drill down into policy. Lo and behold, she tossed off a ton of TV lines without saying much about policy. Oh, yes, she spoke about it in soundbite terms, but at every moment where Coons or moderators asked her to take her stance to its logical conclusion, she wandered into Neverland. Really, 10 minutes after she was explaining that it was unfair to judge her on her financial record, she proposed more accountability from people who used emergency rooms because they didn’t have insurance. Or something.

I suppose that the Rise of the Tea Party candidate — and we could say the first one was Sarah Palin, really, as she was given national prominence by conservative bloggers and media — has led to debates with ultra-low expectations for those candidates. I imagine that Sharron Angle will fail to spontaneously combust, and thus be declared a surprise winner on points of her debate with Harry Reid.

The BBC said that O’Donnell’s sassiness could not overcome her shallow answers.

Ms O’Donnell’s sassy, everyday-girl appeal couldn’t obscure the lack of detail in her responses.

Nor could it compensate for her dumbfounded silence when asked to name a recent Supreme Court ruling she disagreed with.

But that might not matter in this election. She successfully touched on the talking points that have proved to resonate so powerfully with conservatives – repeatedly referring to the constitution, railing against “Obamacare” and accusing Mr Coons of being a Marxist.

Some call this “dog-whistle politics” – these kind of references hit a pitch, and speak a language that supporters hear differently, and respond to more strongly, than other constituencies. Ms O’Donnell appears to have mastered the technique.

The Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawick was confused by all the hype surrounding O’Donnell. “I tried to look past all the wild stuff said about her to see what it was about this candidate that led to her upset victory in the primary race, but I honestly couldn’t find any real takeaway. I wanted to see some honesty and new answers, but I saw nothing much to get excited about.” Nevertheless, Zurawick still liked her “better than the drab, smarmy guy she’s running against, Coons.”

Finally, the National Review’s Jim Geraghaty, despite not being a fan of O’Donnell, criticized Coons’ answers as unsurprising and banal and moderators Karibjanian and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as in the tank for the Democrat.

I’m not inclined to agree with the positions of Democrat Chris Coons, but he struck me as terrible. I wondered if he felt a bit like Al Gore taking on Dan Quayle in 1992 or Joe Biden taking on Sarah Palin in 2008; the opponent was supposed to be a blithering idiot and anything less than a TKO would be a disappointment. But Coons seemed intent to play it safe, to the point where the local moderator, Schoolmarm McFavoritism, had to invite him to jump in twice. Several times he said he didn’t have the required time to answer the questions, and so he punted. His answers were pat, predictable, almost rote recitation of standard-issue Democratic talking points. As I said on Twitter, the generic ballot numbers in Delaware may be strangely relevant, since it seems Chris Coons is the Generic Democratic Candidate.

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Gore vs. The Supreme Court: The justices and the ‘CSI effect’ [via The Washington Post]

The Supreme Court seemed more like an episode of “CSI,” The Post’s op-ed contributor Dana Milbanks said, during Tuesday’s argument in Harrington v. Richter, a case about competent counsel in a criminal investigation. Milbank fears the justices may have succumbed to the CSI effect, a new theory that jurors have come to expect more than forensic science can provide by watching popular TV procedurals such as “CSI” and “Bones.” “Sotomayor, who revealed during her confirmation hearings that she was a Perry Mason fan, told the lawyer that there was ‘nothing to refute the critical testimony at issue: that Klein was shot where he was shot because there’s a high-velocity blood ‘splatter’ in front of him and because the pooling on his face shows that.’”

Boy watches in horror as gator eats pet turtle he gave Gulfarium [via The Pensacola News Journal]

8-year-old Colton Guthrie of Florida was forced to watch as a pet turtle he had donated to the Gulfarium was eaten by an alligator right in front of him. “He was jumping up and down screaming,” Brenda Guthrie said of her son’s reaction. “He was shouting, ‘Oh no alligator, let it go.’ ” She added that they turned away but could still hear the crunching. Officials noted that the alligator had just been hand-fed and that gators rarely seem interested in turtles.

Public Employees and Elections: A Conflict of Interest? [via the National Review]

Wheel of Fortunate host Pat Sajak writes in the National Review questions whether government employees should not be allowed to vote due to an inherent conflict of interest. “If, for example, a ballot initiative appears that might cap the benefits of a certain group of state workers, should those workers be able to vote on the matter? Plainly, their interests as direct recipients of the benefits are far greater than the interests of others whose taxes support such benefits. I realize this opens a Pandora’s box in terms of figuring out what constitutes a true conflict of interest, but, after all, isn’t opening those boxes Ricochet’s raison d’être?”

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The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a controversial First Amendment case regarding protesting military funerals. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are infamous for protesting military funerals across the nation, displaying signs that imply soldiers’ deaths are God’s punishment on the nation for things such as accepting homosexuality, laws allowing abortion and rising divorce rates.

One recent protest took place for a soldier and 2008 graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. As has become more and more common at the WBC’s protests, locals showed up to counter-protest, in this instance over 100 people.

For this case in particular, members of the church protested at the Maryland funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq. Snyder’s father, Albert Snyder, sued the church for emotional distress and was awarded $5 million before a federal appeals court reversed the decision in favor of free speech, no matter how offensive.

As Mike Sacks reports over at First One @ One First, the press and general public seeking entrance to yesterday’s oral arguments in the case, Snyder v. Phelps, was larger than any case last term, including Citizens United.

The upshot, however, is that those cases yielded landmark decisions, while Snyder will bring nothing of the sort.  If there’s any lesson at all to be gained from this morning’s oral argument, it’s a reassertion of the truism that bad facts–or, in this case, exceedingly unique facts–make bad law.

As many reports indicated, the Court had a difficult time parsing the case’s facts and emotional impact. It was made exceptionally difficult in that both sides were well-prepared with legal arguments.

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog asks “Should we — and can we — set aside our emotional reaction?  If the answer, implicit or otherwise, is no, the Justices may then proceed to craft a way to write into the First Amendment a  ‘funeral exception’ to the right to speak out in public in outrageous and hurtful ways.”

Such an exception would change be a major change to the court’s list of exceptions to free speech established in 1942’s Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.

There are certain well defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting” words — those which, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.

Although some facts threw doubts on the Snyder camp’s claims, the court seemed split between protecting free speech and sympathizing with the Snyders. The justices spent a while on hypotheticals when question the church’s lawyer, Margie Phelps (the daughter of Fred Phelp, WBC’s pastor and the case’s respondent), including this gem.

Alito: All right. Well, Justice Kagan gave you one example. Let me give you another example along the same lines. Let’s say there is a grandmother who has raised a son who was killed in Afghanistan or in Iraq by an IED. And she goes to visit her son’s — her grandson’s grave, and she’s waiting to take a bus back to her home. And while she’s at the bus stop, someone approaches and speaks to her in the most vile terms about her son: He was killed by an IED; do you know what IEDs do? Let me describe it for you, and I am so happy that this happened; I only wish I were there; I only wish that I could have taken pictures of it. And on and on. Now, is that protected by the First Amendment? There is no false statement involved and it’s purely speech.

Phelps: Right. And — and it may give rise to some fighting words claim, depending on the proximity and the context. And I would have to know what –

Alito: Well, it’s an elderly person. She’s really probably not in — in a position to punch this person in the nose.

Scalia: And she’s a Quaker, too.

The court transcript here notes laughter, and after hemming and hawing for a bit Phelps reluctantly said it was not protected speech as they may constitute “fighting” words.

SCOTUSblog’s Dennison noted that, while many justices seemed undecided on the matter, Stephen Breyer spent some time ruminating on possible middle-of-the-road solutions.

By the end of the argument, it seemed that, if the Justices could settle on a legal principle to govern funeral protests of the kind that greeted the service for Marine Lane Corporal Matthew Snyder, it might well be the compromise position suggested at one point by Justice Stephen G. Breyer.  The First Amendment would allow a lawsuit for outrageously causing harm to someone’s emotional life — at least at a funeral — but limit it so that it would not forbid all forms of protests at such an event.  As Breyer put it: “What I’m trying to accomplish, to allow this tort to exist but not allow the existence of it to interfere with an important public message where that is a reasonable thing to do.”

NPR’s Nina Totenberg said that it appears “that some justices who just months ago expanded the right of free speech to allow corporations to spend unlimited amounts in candidate elections are looking for a way to limit the rights of picketers at funerals.”

Mike Sacks at First One @ One First wrote that the court may in the end suck it up and side with the Westboro Baptist Church.

Yet for all the doubt the justices expressed towards the WBC’s claims of constitutional protection, Snyder’s argument simply could not carry the day.  Challenged by Justice Kagan to articulate a standard for how to determine which protests “glomming to a private funeral” should or should not fall outside of the First Amendment, Summers could articulate no governing principle.  Ultimately, it seemed, Snyder sought not a general rule of law, but rather a Constitutional carve-out for his own grief.  Such personalized positions are not the stuff of Supreme Court precedent.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick agreed that the court faces a choice between the law and the facts.

The headline writers are going to say that the justices “struggled” with this case. That may be so, but what they struggled with has very little to do with the law, which rather clearly protects even the most offensive speech about public matters such as war and morality. They are struggling here with the facts, which they hate. Which we all hate. But looking at the parties through hate-colored glasses has never been the best way to think about the First Amendment. In fact, as I understand it, that’s why we needed a First Amendment in the first place.

On the other hand, she wasn’t pulling any punches when it came to her own opinion.

Oh, and just for the record: What I hate is tripping over a child holding a sign that reads “God Hates You” as I am trying to get to oral argument at the Supreme Court. There is a special charcoal briquette in hell for parents who teach kids to think that way.

The court is not expected to release its ruling for several months. You can read the 56-page transcript of the argument here.

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The Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal judiciary’s policy-making branch, approved a pilot project last week to bring cameras into some civil proceedings. Parties can veto cameras, and the video will never show jurors’ faces. The cameras will be operated by court personnel, not news organizations.

According to a spokesman from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, six district courts attempted similar recordings in the early 1990s, “but the program was never made permanent because of concerns about the impact on jurors and witnesses.” Of course, video is much more viral today than in the ’90s, in no small part due to the internet and YouTube. How the increased demand for transparency and access will balance with concerns about jurors and witnesses has yet to play out.

The JCUS decision doesn’t apply to the Supreme Court, which voted 5-4 earlier this year to ban video of Judge Vaughn Walker’s California Proposition 8 trial due to fears supporters of Prop. 8 would be harassed for testifying.

(Coincidentally, reenactments of the Prop. 8 trial were very popular on YouTube.)

Only a few justices have openly discussed their feelings about cameras in the Supreme Court. Justice Stephen Breyer, recently touring to promote a new book, told NBC’s Brian Williams expressed worry witnesses and such could fear being watched by their whole community but did acknowledge the possible benefits.

The answer to me is not obvious. We haven’t voted on it. I haven’t had to take a position. The reasons for doing it are obvious. I mean, television is part of the press. And I think wouldn’t it have been a wonderful thing if television could’ve been in the courtroom and seen the oral argument, for example, in the case of term limits, and many of these cases. You would’ve seen nine people struggling towards an answer in a very, very difficult kind of question.

The court’s newest justice, Elena Kagan, is on record as being fairly pro-camera.

If cameras were in the courtroom, the American public would see an amazing and extraordinary event. This court I think is so smart and so prepared and so engaged. And everybody who gets up there at the podium is – the toughest questions, the most challenging questions are thrown at that person. … I think if you put the cameras in the courtroom, people would see, ‘Wow,’ they would see an institution of their government I think working at a really high level. So that’s one plus factor for doing it.

But would cameras in the Supreme Court really help demystify its proceedings and power? In 2008 Linda Greenhouse, who covered the court for 30 years at the New York Times, said that while she is in favor of expanded video access, cameras in the courtroom may not make understanding the court any easier.

For one thing, the hourlong oral argument represents only a small part of the decisional process — the tip of the iceberg, you might say. For another, the arguments are not all that easily comprehensible to a casual viewer. I don’t mean that to sound condescending. But it’s important to realize that the arguments don’t proceed in a linear fashion. There is almost never a point at which the lawyer describes the case. It’s just assumed that the justices know the facts of the case and know the relevant law. The real question in the argument — whether stated or not — is: if we rule your way in your case, what are we buying into? What’s the implication for the next case or cases? The questions can range so far afield that not infrequently, even when I have thought I was fully prepared to listen to the argument (and for that reason, my practice was never to even bother going to an argument if I hadn’t read the briefs) I would be left scratching my head and wondering if somehow I was at the argument for the wrong case.

And following the Supreme Court’s minutiae was her job! Last week Arlen Specter introduced a bill requiring the court to allow cameras into its open sessions (although the legislature really has no way to enforce that, aside from cutting the courts’ budget, a dicey political move) unless the majority vote that doing so would violate due process for one or more of the parties.

The court already allows press and public access, and releases transcripts and audio recordings of its public proceedings — admittedly, months or even years later. Furthermore, the justices seem to be worried about creating pressure to produce sound bites for television news, something that anyone who has read through a handful of court transcripts can see does not happen now.

It seems the Supreme Court, at least for now, will continue on camera-less. In a few years, however, once this pilot program in the lower federal courts plays out and access to video becomes more and more available to the public, the court may have to reconsider its stance. Unfortunately, video of oral arguments would provide about as much transparency into the judiciary as C-SPAN does into the legislature or press conferences do into the executive.

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“Boardwalk Empire”

Premieres Sunday, September 19, 9 p.m. on HBO

Starring Steve Buschemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Kenneth Williams, Stephen Graham

Atlantic City, 1920, Prohibition. A potent mix, a fascinating period of American history and Steve Buschemi. Who could want more? Buschemi stars as Nucky Thompson, the city’s corrupt treasurer who runs his business like a mobster. Entertainment Weekly: “Buscemi’s shifty-eyed fixer has no scruples about ordering beat-downs, but he also has a soft heart for a few people who impress him.” EW seems to have some reservations, but Buschemi is the kind of actor who can make a role his own; “Boardwalk Empire” seems to be in a similar vein as “Mad Men,” a period drama that reveals characters’ interiority slowly, almost painfully so. Michael Pitt looks like he’ll make an excellent sidekick; he has the kind of roughshod young face required of bootleggers in the ’20s. Oh, and Al Capone makes an appearance; how fun is that?

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“The Event”

Premieres Monday, September 20, 9 p.m. on NBC

Starring Jason Ritter, Laura Innes, Blair Underwood, Željko Ivanek, Scott Patterson, Sarah Roemer

Be wary. Recent big-mystery shows like “FlashForward” and “V” have no pop, and “Lost” ended unsatisfactorily, to put it diplomatically. “The Event” follows a variety of mysteries through Sean Walker (Ritter), who investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend and manages to uncover some sort of government plot. Some heft is given to the cast from Innes, Ivanek and Underwood. Scott Patterson, formerly of “Gilmore Girls,” is also on the cast list, though not in the preview, and as he showed in two of the “Saw” films he plays government investigator well. This pilot will have to judged by how engaging it is; no one is looking to get burned by such a mystery-based show again.

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“Mike and Molly”

Premieres Monday, September 20, 9:30 p.m. on CBS

Starring Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardel

It’s a traditional sitcom, but “Mike and Molly” doesn’t look like a traditional plot. McCarthy and Gardel star as the eponymous characters, a fourth grade teacher and a police officer. Both are overweight; in fact, they meet at an Overeaters Anonymous gathering. Gardell already has some notable roles under his considerably sized belt, including stints on “The King of Queens” and “Yes, Dear.” McCarthy, of course, is best known for her time as Sookie St. James on “Gilmore Girls,” where she was consistently a bright spot and engaging actress. Furthermore, CBS has had some success with more traditional-style sitcoms, including “The Big Bang Theory” and “Rules of Engagement” (as usual, pretend “Two and a Half Men” doesn’t exist). It remains to be seen whether such success will come to “Mike & Molly.”

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“Outlaw”

Premieres Wednesday, September 15, 10 p.m. on NBC

Starring Jimmy Smits, Jesse Bradford, Carly Pope, David Ramsey, Ellen Woglom

Smits plays Supreme Court justice Cyrus Garza, who quits the high court in the pilot and returns to private practice. E! Online: “Why, you ask? Only Garza himself seems to know for sure. To change the legal system? To represent the little man? To make his late father proud? Or does it have to do with his $250,000 gambling debt?” The premise seems a little shaky; Smits is some sort of SCOTUS playboy — something anyone who knows anything about the Supreme Court knows is implausible — but as the below preview makes clear, he has a heart of gold and balls of steel. If anyone can pull it off, Smits is the best bet; it could go the way of “The Good Wife” or “Drop Dead Diva,” two wildly different legal dramas that span the spectrum. The rest of the cast, E! says, doesn’t feature much in the pilot. However, Bradford, playing an ambitious Ivy League grad, has shown how well he can play such sniveling roles before. Pope portrays “the bisexual bad-girl private investigator,” which sounds suspiciously like a rip-off of Archie Panjabi’s Emmy Award-winning character on CBS’s “The Good Wife.” Still, worth a watch.

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“The Whole Truth”

Premieres Wednesday, September 22, 10 p.m. on ABC

Starring Rob Morrow, Maura Tierney

I love a legal drama, and this one promises to stay focused on the legal drama. Morrow always seemed constrained on “Numb3rs,” and Maura Tierney has her own set of acting chops (including “NewsRadio,” a seriously underrated comedy). Will it prove more popular than the single-season “Law and Order: Trial By Jury” (another seriously underrated show)? We’ll see.

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Bonus Made-for-TV Movie!

“Sharktopus”

Premieres Saturday, September 25, 9 p.m. on SyFy

Quite possibly better than SyFy’s previous hit, “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.” Need I say more?

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British spy found dead in bath was padlocked into sports bag [via The Telegraph]

The strange case of Britain’s dead spy continues to reveal new twists. MI6 agent Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead in his apartment August 23. New details recently emerged during an inquiry that Williams’ body was discovered by police padlocked inside a large sports bag in the bathtub. Two autopsies have not yet discovered the cause of death, and police say the situation is “suspicious and unexplained” (duh).

Man sued for drunkenly losing $1.35M painting [via The New York Daily News]

Manhattanite James Haggerty is being sued by some (presumably former) friends after he drunkenly lost their $1.35 million painting. Haggerty was supposed to transport the painting, “Portrait of a Girl” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, to a potential buyer at a hotel. Security footage shows that, after the buyer turned down the offer, Haggerty sloshed out of the hotel, painting in tow, and had lost it the next morning.

Battle Brews Over Michelangelo’s ‘David’ [via The New York Times]

A report commissioned by Italy’s federal government says that Michelangelo’s classic sculpture ‘David’ is owned by the nation, not the city of Florence, where it resides. Proceeds from tourists viewing ‘David’ topped $7 million last year and went to the federal Culture Ministry. The report concluded the sculpture, which was commissioned by the Florentine Republic in 1501, belongs to Italy because the nation legally succeeded the republic.

Dorothy Sucher, Reporter in Press-Freedom Case, Dies at 77 [via The New York Times]

Reporter Dorothy Sucher died August 22 at the age of 77. Sucher was deeply involved in a landmark freedom of the press Supreme Court case, 1970’s Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Assn. v. Bresler. Sucher had reported on city residents accusing developer Charles Bresler of “blackmail” during a public meeting. Bresler sued for libel, but ultimate the court found that “when accusations that technically amount to a criminal charge are made during heated public debate, they cannot constitutionally be the basis of a libel or slander judgment if it is clear that there was no intention to accuse anyone of criminal conduct.”

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