Anthony Kennedy

The Supreme Court Hears the Trial of Hamlet (Part 2)

William Shakespeare Hamlet Above the Law legal tabloid.jpgSome of you have inquired into the rest of our coverage of last week’s Trial of Hamlet, presided over by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Thanks for the reminder.
Well, here it is. It’s ridiculously late, and it’s probably of interest only to folks who also attended the event.
If you feel like it, you can check it out after the jump.


Fairly systematic accounts of the evening are available from the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Reuters. We’re assuming your familiarity with this coverage, in offering our own (rather disjointed) observations:
1. We were in the first row, probably just thirty feet away from Justice Kennedy. And we didn’t have to go through a metal detector, either. Presumably anyone dorky enough to be interested in this event would not be interested in visiting harm upon AMK. (But security personnel with earpieces did walk the aisles, keeping an eye out of trouble.)
2. There were lots of luminaries in attendance: Sen. Arlen Specter; Federalist Society President Gene Meyer, and his wife, Lori Singer Meyer; Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo (who figures prominently in Jan Crawford Greenburg’s Supreme Conflict), and his wife, Sally Leo; and several members of the Elect.
3. Also in the audience: the dazzling Stephanie Hessler, a tall blonde beauty. She works for the Senate Judiciary Committee, but her time on Capitol Hill has not caused her to succumb to frumpiness. Last fall, she was declared one of Washington’s ten best-dressed women. She was there with her husband, the appealingly clean-cut Stephen Hessler (NYT wedding announcement here).
4. Justice Kennedy gave a fantastic performance. He was deadpan throughout, even when cracking jokes; very focused, and “in the moment”; and very credible. AMK may be in the wrong line of work!
5. We were less impressed by Justice Kennedy’s clerk, Mark Yohalem, who fittingly portrayed the clerk of court. He’s a very handsome lad, in a corn-fed, Abercrombie & Fitch sort of way (and we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he replaced Randy Kozel in the Kennedy chambers). But his performance was rather wooden. Perhaps he was nervous?
(Also, someone please get Yohalem a pair of collar stays. The edges of his collar were turning up, as we could see even from thirty feet away.)
6. Catherine Crier (representing Hamlet): presentation score 8.0, style score 9.0. Attractive, blonde, very “Texas”-looking. Black suit, pink blouse (surprisingly open); great legs, super-high heels. Only quibble: suit jacket was distractingly long, almost as long as the skirt.
Her presentation was newscaster-smooth — not suprising, given that she’s a TV personality — but it might not have been as effective as it could have been. It was easy to tune her out at times, as if she were reading from a teleprompter.
7. Miles Ehrlich (representing the people of Denmark): presentation score 9.0, style score 8.5. Boyish, roly-poly. Looked at his notes more than Crier did, but on the whole, probably more effective than she was — he had more of a connection to the jurors. Appealingly earnest, great eye contact. Nice grey pinstripe suit. But you know how we feel about button-down shirts.
8. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman (defense witness). We liked him a great deal — he was funny, well-spoken, and well-versed with the text of the play, which he integrated nicely with clinical terminology. He was elegant, in an “Upper East Side therapist” sort of way. Favorite part of his testimony:

Lieberman: “Ambivalence is one of the cardinal symptoms of psychosis.”
Justice Kennedy: “Careful!”

9. Cristina Arguedas (representing the people of Denmark): presentation score 8.5, style score 7.0. Arguedas is one of California’s top criminal defense lawyers. A mock cross-examination she conducted as part of the O.J. Simpson defense team was part of the reason Simpson didn’t testify at trial. She was an effective advocate for the prosecution here. But her personal style was a disaster: she wore an uber-masculine black pantsuit, cut like a man’s suit rather than a woman’s.
Arguedas is one of California’s leading lesbians. Her wedding to her partner of over twenty years, Carol Migden, was officiated at by Mayor Gavin Newsom (see here).
So the world knows that you are a sapphic celebrity, Ms. Arguedas. There is no need for you to dress like one!
10. Dr. Alan Stone (prosecution witness): Mmm, we didn’t like him nearly as much as Dr. Lieberman. He was elderly, compact, puckish; reminded us of Robert Novak. His testimony was shifty, long-winded, evasive under cross-examination.
11. Abbe Lowell (representing Hamlet): presentation 9.5, style 9.0. He was the most theatrical of the lawyers, and audience members either loved him or hated him. We loved him. He was flashy, hammy, pugnacious, confrontational. He also knew the record backwards and forwards.
He was also sharply dressed, in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt, electric blue tie, and black patent leather shoes. A real character.
Best line (to argue that Hamlet could still have been mentally ill, despite uttering lines in the play suggesting he was feigning madness): “Doctor, you’ll agree: If a fat person takes on a pillow to pretend that he’s fat, then takes it off, isn’t he still fat?”
Overheard at intermission: “If I’m ever in trouble, I want that guy [Lowell] as my attorney!”
12. As noted, in our prior account and in the MSM write-ups, the jury deadlocked, 6-6. But we’d score this evening as a victory for the defense.
The prosecution has the stronger case based on the existing record — which is why, when the trial was previously performed in Boston, Chicago, and Washington, the prosecution prevailed. So the fact that the defense team here was able to get a hung jury is a moral victory of sorts.
On the whole, we enjoyed the evening very much. Congratulations to all of the participants on a job very well done!
Is He to Be Guilty, Or Not to Be Guilty? [Washington Post]
As Kennedy Presides at Shakespeare Festival, Hung Jury for Hamlet [Associated Press]
Sane or not, Hamlet a hit in Washington trial [Reuters]
Earlier: The Supreme Court Hears the Trial of Hamlet (Part 1)
Justice Kennedy and The Trial of Hamlet

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