Seduced by spring on the courthouse steps

istock_000005588638xsmall.jpgCan you get a fair trial with Jimmy Buffett blaring outside the courtroom?

The thought crossed my mind this afternoon as I walked in front of the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse during the annual Towson Gardens Day. The courthouse plaza and parts of nearby Pennsylvania and Baltimore avenues were converted for a few hours into a sprawling open-air market with food, flowers, jewelry and other crafts. Buffett’s music was playing from speakers placed near the entrance of the courthouse while the Towson High School jazz band took a break between sets.

Walking among the booths to, um, do research for this blog entry, I was struck by all of the activity around me, quite the departure from the normally quiet courthouse environs: A lawyer in a suit adding onions, mustard and other fixings to his hot dog; jurors, stickers clearly displayed on their chests, waiting in line for gyros during their lunch break; county employees, ID badges flapping in the breeze, perusing the brightly-colored flowers; a lad in a plaid, green kilt playing the bagpipes; and families and college students in shorts and t-shirts, enjoying weather as sweet as a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

I think I may have to go outside later for some more, um, research. And to enjoy my kettle corn.

DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer

The justices we haven’t seen

It’s great that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be talking at the Lyric today as part of UB Law’s spring speaker series, but it does make me wonder…

Over the three years I have worked at The Daily Record, I have been fortunate enough to see three justices in an outside-One-First-Street capacity. In 2005, I got to cover a speech Sandra Day O’Connor gave to the Women’s Bar Association. In 2006, I wrote about John G. Roberts speaking to a conference of Maryland judges. Last year, I went to a book party that Sinclair Broadcasting head David Smith hosted for Clarence Thomas. Scalia will make four.

It was cool to cover O’Connor and Roberts and to meet Thomas, and I’m sure the sharp-tongued Scalia won’t disappoint, but I wonder why all the Supreme Court justices who have come to our fair state recently have been members of the court’s conservative wing. (Well, O’Connor counts as half a conservative. That’s the half that sided with Bush in Bush v. Gore, not the half that upheld Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.)

You would think that a fairly liberal state like Maryland, with two pretty liberal law schools and a somewhat-to-the-left-of-center judiciary, would play host to a Ruth Bader Ginsburg or a Stephen Breyer once in a while. For variety’s sake, it would be interesting to hear what one of the high court’s liberals has to say.

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Justice comes to town

Hey, Justice Antonin Scalia! You’ve just finished hearing arguments for the term on the Supreme Court! What are you going to do next?

“I’m going to Baltimore!”

The University of Baltimore School of Law, to be precise. Scalia, slated to appear on 60 Minutes on Sunday and co-author of a book that comes out on Monday, is in town today for a session with UB Law students, a luncheon, a meet-and-greet with various faculty members and a public session across the street from the school at the Lyric Opera House.

Possibly hoping to avoid a repeat of 2004′s “Hattiesburg Incident,” in which federal marshals appropriated and destroyed two reporters’ tapes at a high school appearance (for which Scalia later apologized), UB Law’s spokesman was quite clear in issuing an invitation to the Lyric event. Reporters may bring a notebook, pencil and tape-recording device “for reporting purposes only — not for broadcast.”

Scalia’s book, co-authored with Bryan Garner of LawProse Inc., is called “Making Your Case: The art of persuading judges.”  It stems from interviews Garner did with eight of the nine justices between 2006 and 2007, which Garner has put up on his Web site.

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor/Law