I was at the Robert T. Matsui Federal Courthouse in Sacramento to shoot former San Joaquin County Sheriff Baxter Dunn, who is on probation for a 2005 mail fraud conviction. He was headed to court again for violating that probation with a misdemeanor DUI conviction last November. I had covered his earlier proceedings in 2005. Cameras aren’t allowed in the Federal court, so the plan was to do what I’ve done before and get some shots of him entering the courthouse. The hearing was set for 9:00 in the morning but I arrived at about 8:10 a.m. to make sure I was there in time.
Record reporter Scott Smith waits for former sheriff Baxter Dunn to show up at the Robert Matsui Federal Courthouse in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200 @70mm. Expsoure: 1/250 @ f/5.6. ISO: 400)
The morning sun was blocked by the 13-story courthouse and a cold wind whipped around the entry plaza where I was waiting. Record reporter Scott Smith joined me at about 8:30 and we both shivered as we waited for Dunn to show up. The light in the plaza was flat and grey, not the best for pictures. Looking from shelter from the cold, yet keeping an eye out for Baxter Dunn, we took a little bit of refuge next to some wide pillars at the building’s entrance. The light fell off precipitously from to the plaza to the doorway. In that transition from light to dark, the boring light transformed into something more interesting, like a soft, warm breeze mixing with the chilly morning.
Baxter Dunn’s attorney Albert Ellis approaches the Robert Matsui Federal Courthouse in downtown Sacramento. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200 @70mm. Expsoure: 1/250 @ f/5.6. ISO: 400)
Dunn’s attorney Albert Ellis showed up and told us that former sheriff was indeed going to be there. 9:00 a.m. rolled around and still no Baxter Dunn. Scott decided to go up to the courtroom to check things out. A few minutes later I got a cellphone call from him saying that Dunn was already there. He must’ve arrived really early to be able to avoid us. At least I was able to play with the light while I waited. We’ll get another chance at it, though. U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered Dunn, 60, to appear before him on June 19 for a full hearing in the case.