Elizabeth Holmes · Younger · Criminal

Plus: Courtroom sketches and more Hamish

Vintage-bookstore true-crime find du jour: Courtroom sketch artist Marilyn Church’s The Art Of Justice. Subtitled An Eyewitness View of Thirty Infamous Trials, it’s co-written by WCBS reporter Lou Young, and as Church’s drawings were used primarily on WABC’s local broadcasts, this is a goldmine for readers who, like me, grew up in the tri-state area with names like Goetz, Manes, Chambers, and Gotti all around them every day...but includes a handful of cases tried in east-coast federal courts (Martha Stewart) or that rose to national prominence by dint of the participants’ celebrity (OJ Simpson, Woody Allen).

At the beginning of each case’s section, there’s a summary of each case -- the defendants, the lawyers on both sides, the judges and key witnesses -- that’s an excellent refresher for some of these older stories. I was too young really to “remember” the Son Of Sam murders, so a lot of what I know about it now comes from Summer Of Sam, and I didn’t know the final shooting took place so close to where I live now. I’d also forgotten the timeline of the Karen Ann Quinlan “right-to-die” case despite working for a related organization as a researcher in high school. (In a warren of offices underneath my hometown’s downtown called “the Catacombs.” Weird summer, 1989.) And I had no memory at all of a handful of the cases, including the one that implicated Norman Mailer and whose chapter features a sketch signed BY Mailer. 

But the best part, at least for someone who really can’t draw at all, is seeing what Church makes of the various notorious faces -- and how, or why. Her “Artist’s Perspective” snippets often speak of having to render a key courtroom outburst with mere minutes before the five-o’clock news; or faces, like Watergate whistle-blower John Dean’s, on which she couldn’t get any purchase. Church’s introduction gets a bit process-y about how the courtroom sketches literally get done, and looking at the results after that is fascinating, seeing how she uses green tones to editorialize about expressionless defendants like Robert Chambers, or implies the bifocals that customarily adorned William Kunstler’s gleaming forehead with a double slash.

I can see why this ended up at the used bookstore; it’s not really one you re-read, and the prose itself is mostly workmanlike. But at previously-owned prices, The Art Of Justice is great -- smartly structured, informative, and notches you another book on your Goodreads annual challenge in a breezy couple of hours. If you see it for under $10, grab it. (And if you’re on Goodreads, friend me!) -- SDB


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If Best Evidence has 2000 paid subscribers by August of 2020 I (@eveb) will report from the courtroom every day of this damn thing. If we get 3000, I’ll fly @TomatoNation out and put her up to tag team. WE HAVE A YEAR TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN PEOPLE.
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John Carreyrou @JohnCarreyrou

An Aug. 4, 2020, trial date is set for biotech entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes and her ex boyfriend Sunny Balwani https://t.co/3sZlICKW19

Elizabeth Holmes’s trial date has been set, and we at Best Evidence need your help to cover it. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila said Friday that the trial for the Theranos founder would begin jury selection on July 28, 2020, and that attorneys would start presenting their cases on August 4. If convicted of all charges, Holmes and former boyfriend/Theranos CEO Ramesh Balwani could face 20 years each in prison, a $2.75 million fine, and “additional restitution” (per the Department of Justice). It’s expected to run for about three months.

As you know, we here at Best Evidence are big fans of this case, and have devoted three podcasts to various properties detailing Theranos’s rise and fall. We’d love to cover this case from the courtroom for you, but right now that’s not possible, as Best Evidence is only a side hustle, not our main one. However, if we were able to get enough paid subscribers -- that’s 2000, as my needs are few -- for Best Evidence to turn this into my “day job” by this time next year, I could file daily reports for you all from the site (I live in San Francisco, so the trip to San Jose’s federal court is manageable). And if we got 3000 paid subscribers, then Sarah could afford to commit to a reporting stint from the Bay Area, as well.

If this is something that you’d like to see happen, then please forward this newsletter to pals and encourage them to join with a monthly ($5) or annual ($55) membership. We’d honestly love to cover this trial for you live and in-person, so we have our fingers crossed that we can make this happen. -- EB


We might get at least one more episode of Who The Hell Is Hamish? You might have thought that last week’s 16 year sentence for McLaren would signal the end of the podcast, but a Twitter exchange between Hamish host Greg Bearup and a guy named Justin Roseworn suggested that there might be more to come. The pair moved their conversation to DM, so we don’t have any additional details -- but last we saw, Roseworn’s allegedly Hamish-bruised pals are willing to speak to the journo. As there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding the case -- for example, what did Hamish do with the millions he scammed from his victims? -- expect this pod to keep on dropping eps as long as it takes. -- EB


You might soon be able to enjoy a live version of the Criminal podcast. David Cotrone, a spokesperson for PRX (the producers of the pod), tells Best Evidence that the show is coming to “a bunch” of cities across the US and Canada this fall. That’s the lineup, above -- David says that the only change is that the Vancouver show will be at the York Theater, not the Hollywood as it says in the image. Tickets are available here. -- EB


The half-hour comedy Younger took on true crime last week. The show, which is about a 40-something woman who pretends to be in her 20s to get a coveted job in the publishing industry (that’s the ostensible millennial on the right -- like, I said, it’s a comedy), presented a seemingly terrifying suspect (and subject of a true-crime podcast) who’s shopping a book deal. All the true-crimeiest of tropes are present, as are the arguments for and against the genre. The episode, called “The Unusual Suspect,” is recapped at The Spool, and can be streamed here. -- EB


Did you watch Exhibit A last weekend? The series -- which details convictions obtained by dubious forensic methods -- is four episodes, all under an hour. Folks on Twitter seem to be digging the show, but what about you? We’ve set up our first-ever Best Evidence open thread (!) for all readers — not just the paid ones -- to share their thoughts on it. We hope you’ll let us know what you thought of the series here. -- EB


Tuesday on Best Evidence: Actor deaths, Erin Lee Carr, and a new book on serial killers (just in time for the long weekend!).


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