Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, now back at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is one of the nation’s top appellate advocates. He’s an amazing lawyer and a distinguished public servant. And he — together with his wife, the beautiful and brilliant Lady Booth — knows how to throw a killer wedding.
But Olson does seem to have an unorthodox sense of client conflict rules. From Howard Kurtz’s media column in today’s Washington Post:
Now it can be told: Matt Cooper thought that Time magazine’s strategy in the Valerie Plame leak investigation was “insane.” He was unhappy when his lawyer wanted to simultaneously represent I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the man whose identity Cooper was risking jail to protect. And Judith Miller got on his nerves.
Cooper, who has left Time, is now Washington bureau chief for Portfolio, the glossy business magazine from Conde Nast that makes its debut today. The launch is cloaked in secrecy….
Cooper says he realized early on that he would probably lose the subpoena battle over his refusal to testify about his 2003 discussions regarding Plame with White House aides Libby and Karl Rove. But Time rejected Cooper’s plea to compromise by seeking waivers of confidentiality from the officials. “Behind the scenes I desperately wanted to make a deal that could get us out of this mess,” he writes.
Norman Pearlstine, then Time Inc.’s editor in chief, decided to hire conservative lawyer Ted Olson. But Cooper’s opinion of the former solicitor general declined when Olson asked if he could also represent Libby, which Cooper saw as a conflict since “Libby’s defense ultimately involved my word against his.” Olson quickly backed off.
Our tipster notes: “I worked as an attorney at a federal agency in Washington for several years right after law school, and was frequently astonished by the casual approach to conflicts issues many private sector attorneys had there. Olson’s is the worst proposal I have seen in many years.”
But perhaps we’re missing something. We’re sure that some of you can come up with a defense of Olson’s ability to represent both Cooper and Libby. We welcome your thoughts in the comments.
A Sorry Story, With Apology Yet to Come [Washington Post]
Earlier: Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock