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There may not be another court to turn to for relief, but two-time Pulitzer Prize winner James Risen still won't back down in a fight to force him to turn over his confidential sources for his 2006 book, "State of War," which contained confidential CIA secrets regarding Iran's nuclear program.

The Fourth Circuit ruled against Risen last year, holding that Branzburg v. Hayes controlled and that there was no reporter's privilege that would keep a reporter off the stand during grand jury proceedings. It was a terrible outcome for press freedom, but as we noted before, it was a precedent required by precedent: The Supreme Court stated in Branzburg it could not "seriously entertain the notion that the First Amendment protects a newsman's agreement to conceal the criminal conduct of his source, or evidence thereof ..."

Only the Supreme Court could have changed that precedent, and it declined to take the case earlier this year. Legally, the battle ended there, but Risen, and his supporters, are still not backing down.

The Bob and Maureen McDonnell indictment was fun reading, but so far, the trial is even more entertaining. Why? A novel defense theory. A passed-up plea bargain. And a major public spectacle that could last for weeks.

So goes the trial of the former Virginia governor and his wife, accused of taking gifts from Johnnie Williams, a nutritional supplement manufacturer, in exchange for favors and "official acts."

Here are three of the highlights, so far:

It was barely a few months' time before a nominee was put forward to fill Senior Judge Andre Davis' seat. At the time, we were shocked; considering the number of vacancies nationwide, some of which were many years old, a vacancy being filled this quickly was basically a modern miracle.

Pamela Harris was the nominee. And only a few months later, she is now confirmed. Welcome to the Fourth Circuit, Judge Harris!

Want to spend more time practicing, and less time advertising? Leave the marketing to the experts.

Robert "Bob" McDonnell, the embattled former Virginia governor, and his wife and co-defendant Maureen McDonnell, made an appearance in court yesterday, seeking to dismiss the case against them, and failing that, to sever their trial.

Both requests were denied, however, and the couple's joint trial is scheduled to proceed on July 28, reports NPR.

Conflicts and recusals. We've given the High Court's justices a hard time over botched recusals, excessive recusals, and even for un-recusals, but what about judges in the lower courts?

Federal judges are required to recuse themselves if they have a conflict of interest, often due to stock ownership in a company that is a party to the case, and they're even granted a tax break if they sell the stock to remove the conflict. Courts have adopted conflict screening systems to make sure mandated recusals actually happen.

Yet sometimes, a case or a stock slips through the cracks. How? And just as important, how many?

Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife's indictment was good reading, but the hilarity didn't stop with the initial pleadings. Thanks to a recent spate of filings, some with little to no basis in existing laws, the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge James Spencer, asked the prosecutors and defense attorneys to limit their filings "for the sanctity of the trees."

Judge Spencer also dismissed McDonell's request to allow a related civil case to move forward, in hopes that evidence favorable to the defense would emerge, stating that the defense was "dancing through fantasyland," reports The Washington Post.

Stay tuned folks. This is probably going to be one heck of a show.

This is definitely one of the most egregious cases of prosecutorial misconduct that you'll ever see.

We last saw former death row inmate Justin Wolfe in May 2013, when the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's order preventing the state from re-prosecuting Wolfe for a murder-for-hire. The district court's order came after Brady violations in the original trial, a defied habeas judgment that ordered the state to retry or release Wolf within 120 days, and a wee bit of witness intimidation.

The Fourth Circuit, while sympathetic, held that federal district courts lack the power to bar state courts from re-prosecuting. Wolfe is hoping that the Supreme Court feels differently.

Last year, secure email provider Lavabit chose to shut down rather than sell out its customers by complying with a controversial court order.

Today, it is challenging that court order in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

What's at stake? It's not just the company. It's privacy rights and free speech.

It looks like Virginia may soon join the ranks of the states that recognize gay marriages.

This morning, the new Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mark R. Herring, announced that he would stop fighting to uphold the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, and would instead join the other side of the federal lawsuit, reports The New York Times.

And to think, just last year, the then-Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, was fighting tooth-and-nail to uphold the state's anti-sodomy law.

We've all read criminal cases where we think, "How can they be this stupid?" And we've all seen cases where, out of stupidity, carelessness, or desperation, people pile mistakes upon mistakes.

But it's different when the crimes are allegedly carried out by politicians. We expect them to be smarter. Not so much, for former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen.

The McDonnell indictment contains page after page after page of alleged quid-pro-quo. Gifts and loans were allegedly exchanged for access to the Governor's office and promotion of a private company's nutritional supplement.