Videos of Society Programs
Index of Videos
Madness or Badness: Duran and the Evolution of the Insanity Defense in the D.C. Circuit
Describing the insanity defense as giving legal life to the moral values of fairness and responsibility that the Supreme Court should uphold as a constitutional right, University of Pennsylvania professor Stephen J. Morse nonetheless expressed approval of changes in the law which Congress imposed in 1984 that excluded consideration of whether the defendant could control himself and prohibited experts from providing a conclusion on the ultimate issue. He voiced concern about the provision shifting the burden to the defendant, especially at the clear and convincing level, but said the question of "whether we get tough or tender" was a political and moral one, and not within the realm of science. Morse, Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry, was a principal speaker at the Historical Society's April 11 program, "Madness or Badness: Duran and the Evolution of the Insanity Defense in the D.C. Circuit."
Reprising their closing arguments in the 1995 trial of attempted Presidential assassin Francisco Duran, A.J. Kramer who defended Duran, and Eric Dubelier who prosecuted him, debated Duran's plea of insanity. Kramer argued that Duran's delusions that he had to shoot at evil forces hovering over the White House were the product of "a very sick mind." Dubelier responded that Duran's "personality problems" didn't make him insane and that he was faking his illness to escape responsibility. Duran was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison under the revised standards.
In a discussion that followed, Dr. Patrick Canavan, Chief Executive Officer of St. Elizabeths Hospital, said the flow of defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity had dropped to a trickle since the changes Congress enacted after the insanity acquittal of John Hinckley.
The D.C. Circuit in the McCarthy Era: United States v. Lattimore
A ruling by a federal judge in the D.C. Circuit - a former governor of Minnesota - almost single-handedly in the mid-1950s began to turn the judicial tide against the "red scare" generated by Senator Joseph McCarthy and others, according to a panel presented by the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit. District Judge Luther Youngdahl rejected government efforts to try Asia scholar Owen Lattimore for perjury in denying he had never been a sympathizer or promoter of Communism or Communist interests, saying the charge was "nebulous and indefinite" - that a jury would have to indulge in speculation - to arrive at a verdict. The Court of Appeals ultimately sustained the dismissal in a 4-4 vote.
In a reenactment of the argument on a motion to dismiss the indictment, Arnold & Porter attorney G. Duane (Bud) Vieth represented Lattimore. Miguel Estrada of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher argued for the government. DLA Piper attorney Berl Bernhard, who clerked for Judge Youngdahl, portrayed the judge. George Mason University Professor Martin J. Sherwin and former Chief Judge Patricia Wald described the McCarthy era and history of the case to set the stage for the argument. Professor Daniel Ernest was the moderator..
Lattimore was raised in China where his parents taught English. He was editor of the journal Pacific Affairs and an advisor to Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek. After China fell to the Communists, Lattimore was among those accused of aiding the Communists. Lattimore endured 13 acrimonious days testifying before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was subsequently indicted on seven counts of perjury. Lattimore was represented pro bono by former D.C. Circuit Judge Thurman Arnold, Abe Fortas, and Paul Porter, among others.
The program can be viewed here
(to watch the video using your entire screen, view these instructions
) and is available from the Society in the DVD format.
Who Solved Watergate? A Panel Discussion
For the first time in its history, the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit -- on its 20th anniversary -- presented a program at the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference before a large audience of judges and attorneys. The panelists -- all active participants in the Watergate drama -- came together at the Conference on June 9, 2010, and probed the conflicts and tensions of the Watergate era and analyzed the personalities and institutions that played key roles in Watergate events. Leading the discussion was Moderator Carl Stern, who covered Watergate for NBC. The panelists were Richard A. Azzaro, Law Clerk to Honorable John Sirica; Richard Ban-Veniste, Chief, Watergate Special Prosecutor's Watergate Task Force; John W. Dean, Counsel to President Nixon and Lead Government Witness in the Watergate Cover-Up Trial; Rufus Edmisten, Deputy Chief Counsel, Senate watergate Committee; Earl J. Silbert, Watergate Prosecutor as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; and Barry Sussman, The Washington Post's Special Watergate Editor.
Watch and listen to this lively discussion.
(To watch the video using your entire screen, view these instructions
Review of Agency Rules in the D.C. Circuit: Back to the Future?
The D.C. Circuit has played a pivotal role in developing the law respecting judicial review of rulemaking. This began with the debate between Judges Bazelon and Leventhal in the 1970s over whether judges should concentrate on the agency's procedural or substantive performance, and it culminated in the Circuit's adoption of its own brand of "hardlook" review. On March 31, 2010, the Society held a panel discussion which explored how the D.C.Circuit has defined the proper scope of judicial review within the limits imposed by the Supreme Court.
Hon. Patricia M. Wald, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit, introduced the program. Jeffrey Lubbers, Professor of Practice in Administrative Law at Washington College of Law, American University, provided the historical background and served as Moderator. Panelists were Michael Fitzpatrick, Associate Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget; Howard Fox, Counsel, Earthjustice; Hon. Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; and Paul Verkuil, Chair, Administrative Conference of the United States.
You may watch the entire video
or a particular segment: the introduction
questions and answers
, using Windows Media Player
Timeless Elements of a Great Closing Argument: Lessons from the Teapot Dome Trials
Almost 200 people listened intently on July 23, 2009, as Roger M. Adelman and William D. Nussbaum made closing arguments drawn directly from the transcripts of two of the Teapot Dome trials (United States v. Albert Fall
and United States v. Edward Doheny
), arguments that were actually made by defense counsel Frank Hogan and Special Prosecutor and future Supreme Court Justice Owen J.Roberts years ago.
David C. Frederick introduced the program with an historical account of the Teapot Dome scandal and prosecutions after which Roger Adelman and William Nussbaum presented their mock closing arguments. They then joined Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, Timothy G. Lynch and Jacob A. Stein for a discussion on the challenges and requirements of a good closing argument.
Federal Judicial Center staff videotaped the program. You may watch the entire video or a particular segment: the introduction
, background information
, the beginning of the trial
, and the historical postscript and discussion with judges
using Windows Media Player
Technology in the Courtroom: Could it Change the Course of History?
On July 31, 2008, the Historical Society sponsored "Technology in the Courtroom: Could it Change the Course of History?" The program explored the relative advantages and disadvantages of the use of technology to present evidence and arguments in a jury trial. Two mock closing arguments were presented from the historic District of Columbia trial of Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James Garfield, one by David Kendall of Williams & Connolly LLP drawn directly from the original closing argument of the prosecution in the historic trial, and another presented by Judge James Boasberg of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia supported with a variety of technological images and animations. The mock arguments were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Eva Petko Esber of Williams & Connolly LLP that included as panelists Judges James Robertson and Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and Francis D. Carter of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP. You may watch the entire video
or a particular segment: the closing argument of Mr. Kendall
, closing argument of Judge Boasberg
or the discussion and conclusion
following the mock arguments using Windows Media Player
FCC Indecency Cases in the D. C. Circuit: An Historical Perspective
On October 14, 2008, just before the Supreme Court held oral argument on the "fleeting expletives" case, FCC v. Fox Television Stations, the Historical Society sponsored a panel discussion ont "FCC Indecency Cases in the D.C. Circuit." Panelists included former D.C. Circuit Judge Patricia Wald, who recounted the court's en banc decisions leading to different regulations of indecency on broadcast and cable channels; Judge Timothy Dyk of the Federal Circuit, who represented broadcasters in many important indecency cases before taking the bench; and Professor Glen Robinson of the University of Virginia Law School, who served as an FCC commissioner when the agency issued its decision in the Pacifica case involving George Carlin's famous "filthy words" monologue. Former FCC General Counsel Christopher Wright moderated the discussion, which ended with a lively question-and-answer session in which the panelists provided advice to counsel on whether they ought to use allegedly "filthy words" in oral argument. You may watch the entire video
or a particular segment: the panel discussion
or the discussion and conclusion
following the panel using Windows Media Player
FOIA, National Security and the D.C. Circuit: A Safeguard or a Sham?
On November 29, 2007, the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit presented a program
on the role of the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit in developing the law respecting the
Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") and national security. Particular attention was given to the origins
and history of Exemption 1, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1), pertaining to national defense and foreign policy; problems
such as delay and over classification; how the line should be drawn between the public interest in disclosure
and the needs of national security; what the drafters envisioned and whether those objectives are feasible in
today's circumstances; and relevant judicial interpretations. You can now view in full the Society's program
on the role of the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit in developing the law respecting the Freedom of
Information Act and national security. You may watch the
or a particular segment: the introduction
or panel discussion
using Windows Media Player
The Steel Seizure Case in Historical Perspective
June 2007 marked the 55th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in the Steel Seizure Case. On June 2, 1952,
the Supreme Court decided in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co., v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, that President Truman's seizure of
most of the nation's steel mills to avert a nation-wide strike of steelworkers and keep the mills operating during the
Korean War was an unauthorized, unconstitutional executive action that could not stand. The steel companies presented their
claims initially to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which ruled against the Government on all points
and issued a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit promptly stayed the injunction,
deeming it best that the issues raised be decided by the Supreme Court.
In a special program, "The Steel Seizure Case in Historical Perspective: Presidential Power in Wartime," a
panel of experts brought together by the Society analyzed the decision and its enduring ramifications. "The Steel
Seizure Case in Historical Perspective" is available for viewing. You may watch the entire video
or a particular segment:
, panel discussion
, or Q&A
using Windows Media Player
Panel Discussion on The Pentagon Papers: Did the Courts Get it Right?
Attorneys directly involved in the Pentagon Papers cases and law professors who
have written about the cases talked with moderator Carl Stern about their experiences
in a panel discussion sponsored by the Historical Society on November 30, 2006.
Watch the video
of the full panel discussion using Windows Media Player
The Watergate Cover-Up Trial - A Panel Discussion
On November 17, 2004, the Society put on an exciting program, "Reflections on Watergate." Nearly 30 years after the jury returned its verdict finding President Nixon's closest advisors guilty of obstruction of justice, the key participants in that historic trial came together for the first time since the trial to discuss its historic significance and the lessons learned. Lead prosecutor, James F. Neal; Attorney General John Mitchell's counsel, Plato Cacheris; the lead government witness, former Counsel to the President John Dean; and Judge John Sirica's law clerk, D. Todd Christofferson, gave their unique perspectives on the events that led to President Nixon's resignation and the subsequent cover-up trial. Former NBC News Correspondent Carl Stern moderated the panel discussion.
Some highlights of the program included details of how taped conversations made in the Oval Office, together with John Dean's testimony, identified those who participated in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in; how Dean spent hours in the basement of the Courthouse painstakingly reviewing each tape prior to the trial; and how the White House became, in James Neal's words, a place where "anything goes." Both James Neal and John Dean expressed the view that President Nixon did not know beforehand of the plans for the break-in.
The panel shed new light on this important event in history and provided anecdotal information about the trial and the participants that fascinated the audience of judges, attorneys, law clerks, and others.
Watch the video
of the full panel discussion.