David Lat

David Lat is the founder and managing editor of Above the Law. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, New York magazine, Washingtonian magazine, and the New York Observer. Prior to ATL, he launched Underneath Their Robes, a blog about federal judges. Before entering the journalism world, he worked as a federal prosecutor in Newark, New Jersey; a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, in New York; and a law clerk to Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. David graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. He has received several awards for his work on ATL, including recognition as one of the American Lawyer’s Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years; one of the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels, a group of pioneers within the legal profession; and one of the Fastcase 50, "the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." His first book, Supreme Ambitions: A Novel, will be published in 2015. You can connect with David on Twitter and Facebook.

Posts by David Lat

Linda Greenhouse 5 New York Times Above the Law blog.JPGBecause she needs all the help she can get these days. Backlash and insurrection against New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, the long reigning queen of the Supreme Court press corps, continue to grow.
For years, the courts construed 40 U.S.C. 6134 — which forbids “loud, threatening, or abusive language in the Supreme Court Building” — as prohibiting criticism of Linda Greenhouse. As a result, nobody within the legal or media establishment dared breathe a harsh word about her. But now, after decades of dominance, La Greenhouse is slipping — and increasingly vulnerable to attack.
Fueled by the success of the bestselling, critically acclaimed Supreme Conflict, Jan Crawford Greenburg — ABC News’s young, talented, and utterly gorgeous Supreme Court correspondent — is challenging Greenhouse for the title of America’s top Supreme Court reporter. Last month, a threatened LG tried to mount a snarky counterattack. But rather than damaging Greenburg’s reputation, it merely caused SCOTUS insiders to marvel at Greenhouse’s pettiness.
And now Greenburg’s challenge to Greenhouse is emboldening others. Some dare to claim that the empress has no clothes. Take Adam J. White of Baker Botts, a former Sentelletubby and legal commentator. White had this to say about Linda Greenhouse, in an essay for the Weekly Standard:

The law takes the long view, and so do its chroniclers — none more so than Linda Greenhouse, New York Times reporter and unofficial doyenne of the Supreme Court press corps. But Greenhouse’s recent essay on Chief Justice Roberts exemplifies the risks of racing to write the second draft of history before the first: By attempting to turn a single case into a moment of historic importance, Greenhouse misdescribes the record of one chief justice and severely insults another.

OUCH — and there’s more. You can read the rest of the piece here.
0-for-2: Linda Greenhouse gets both Rehnquist and Roberts wrong [The Weekly Standard via How Appealing]

harriet miers.jpgThere was much speculation about where former White House counsel Harriet Miers, of the ill-fated Supreme Court nomination, would wind up.
Would Miers oversee the George W. Bush Presidential Library at her alma mater, SMU? Would she be nominated to the Fifth Circuit? Would she launch a new line of high-end eye make-up?
The suspense is now over. From the Dallas Morning News:

Ex-White House counsel and U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers will rejoin her old law firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, the firm announced Wednesday.

Ms. Miers had helped run the firm, based in Houston and Dallas, before joining President Bush’s staff in 2001. She will rejoin the firm’s public policy group and litigation group on May 1.

A Locke Liddell official said she will be based in Washington D.C. but also have offices in Dallas and Austin.

Congratulations, Ms. Miers!
(But why is she staying in D.C.? Why not return to her home state of Texas, home to her former lover, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht? As we previously suggested, “If she returns to Texas, she may be able to stir the embers of his passion.”)
Harriet Miers To Rejoin Locke Liddell [Dallas Morning News]

Adriana Dominguez 2 Brooklyn Law School Playboy Above the Law blog.JPGFormer Justice Department official Monica Goodling isn’t the only appealing female who’s hiring lawyers these days. Yet another damsel in distress, who has also been in the headlines lately, has obtained legal representation for herself.
Remember Adriana Dominguez, the Brooklyn Law School student who made a nude video for Playboy TV? If you email Ms. Dominguez with an interview request, you receive this message:

I have no comment at this time. If you have any further questions, you can direct them to my attorney:

Brian Bloom
Cozen & O’Connor
(212) 509-9400
bbloom@cozen.com

Sincerely,
Adriana Dominguez

Why on earth has Adriana Dominguez hired a lawyer? We saw the video, and it was pretty trashy — but not criminal (although reasonable minds can differ).
Here’s the law firm bio of Dominguez’s attorney, Brian Bloom (Cornell 1999, Hofstra Law 2002):

Brian A. Bloom joined the New York Midtown office of Cozen O’Connor in March 2005 as an Associate in the General Litigation Department. He concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and intellectual property matters. Brian has represented various entertainers, musicians, and recording artists, including Eminem and (the Estate of) Tupac Shakur. Prior to joining the firm, he was a litigation associate at Fischbein Badillo Wagner Harding, LLP.

Tupac is probably turning over in his grave right now. Assuming he’s actually in it.
P.S. We’re guessing that Bloom and Dominguez are friends and that he picked up this matter as a favor to her (i.e., allowed her to refer to him as her attorney). But did he clear it with the powers-that-be at Cozen O’Connor, go through the requisite conflicts check, etc.?
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Adriana Dominguez (scroll down)

Blackberry Crackberry Blackberries baby Above the Law blog.JPGAre you a Biglaw associate who left the office early last night, relying upon your trusty Blackberry to keep you posted about what was going on back at work? If so, your reliance was misplaced. From the NYT:

Technical problems at Research in Motion cut off wireless e-mail service to millions of users of its BlackBerry hand-held devices in the United States for more than 10 hours overnight.

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, which has the largest BlackBerry customer base in the world, said the service was lost to all carriers in the United States around 8 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. RIM told AT&T Wireless that the problem that caused the shutdown was resolved by 6 a.m. Eastern time today. However, he said that the enormous backlog of e-mail messages that must now be processed would continue to delay or disrupt service for some users.

So if you were out to dinner with friends last night, with a non-buzzing Blackberry, and thought “this is too good to be true,” guess what? You were right.
Now get back to work…
Blackberry Blackout: A Personal Story [DealBreaker]
Service Problems for BlackBerry System [New York Times]
Massive System Failure Affects BlackBerry Users [WNBC]

If you ask former Supreme Court clerks to name the three or four smartest justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg routinely makes the list. Former SCOTUS clerks on both sides of the aisle praise Justice Ginsburg for her intellect. She’s also regularly mentioned as one of the most “self-sufficient” justices (i.e., a justice who could still do her job effectively with little or no law clerk help).
But Justice Ginsburg is not infallible. Here’s an interesting IM conversation we had with a source earlier today (with actual screen names replaced by pseudonyms). Our source, identified below as “tipster,” was reading Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF).
tipster: Ooh. Ginsburg is not good at math – see n.10.
Gonzales Carhart Above the Law blog.JPG
ATL: Ha! 1/1 is a fraction…
tipster: “No, sweetie, if the numerator and the denominator are the same, that just equals 1. Now go back to Home Ec and stop trying to learn math.”
ATL: that’s funny — can I use that?
tipster: sure.
ATL: Per standard ATL policy, no attribution (unless you want it).
tipster: DON’T YOU DARE ATTRIBUTE.
ATL: Can I at least identify you as a liberal and an RBG fan when I make fun of her footnote 10? I don’t want to get attacked as a right-wing hack (since this is equal-opportunity snark).
tipster: Yes.
ATL: Thanks.
tipster: Not like anyone will believe you have liberal friends.
ATL: But I do! I have more liberal friends than conservative ones.
tipster: “some of my best friends are *shudder-gag-vomit* liberal”
(That last line by our tipster was sarcastic, for those of you who are sarcasm-impaired. Thank you.)
Earlier: Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Partial Birth Abortion Act

Things are getting a little heavy around here, with heated discussion of this morning’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF). So it’s time to mix up the programming a little.
Let’s turn our attention from stuff that matters a lot to stuff that matters, well, not terribly much. ATL’s March Madness competition — our quest to crown America’s coolest law school — will conclude tomorrow, Thursday, April 19, at 3 PM (Eastern time). So if you haven’t done so already, please cast your vote :


GOOD LUCK!!!
Earlier: ATL March Madness: The Championship Match

Pregnant Belly 2 Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]

Viewer discretion advised. This video clip is very elitist (or “tierist,” as some of you might say, referring to the U.S. News system of ranking law schools in tiers):

Bill Maher New Rule – From Elites to Jesus [YouTube]

Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegWe had previously suggested that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — who by some accounts is the one who REALLY screwed up in the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco — might be leaving the Justice Department. It looks like our prediction may come to pass.
Rule No. 1 inside the Beltway: “If they don’t deny it, then it’s true.” (Rule No. 2: “Even if they do deny it, it’s probably still true.”)
Applying Rule No. 1, Paul McNulty is leaving the DOJ. From the BLT:

Is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty looking for a new job? Yes, said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, citing “people familiar” with his plans. McNulty himself was a bit more sanguine, telling the Journal he was “fully focused on doing my job and haven’t given much thought to what comes next.”

McNulty chose not to knock the story down today. During a brief interview with Legal Times following a speech to a legal panel about the Thompson Memo and corporate fraud, McNulty was asked if he was looking for a new job. McNulty responded, after a pause: “I can’t answer that.”

If you have any thoughts about who might be up for the thankless task of serving as DAG for the last 21 months of the Bush Administration, we welcome them in the comments. (We throw the considerable weight of Above the Law behind the Prom Queen.)
McNulty Can’t Say If He’s Staying [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Gonzales Deputy, in Crossfire, Looks for Quiet Exit [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier: Paul McNulty: It’s All His Fault

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFSome notable moves within the legal profession:
Government to Private Sector:
* Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, to LeBoeuf Lamb in DC. Last November, Steele lost his bid to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate.
* Michele Hirshman, who served as Eliot Spitzer’s top deputy at the Attorney General’s office before he became Governor, is joining Paul Weiss, as a litigation partner. Described by the New York Times as “very smart, very tough and rather short,” she sounds perfectly diva-licious.
Lateral Moves:
* Antitrust superstar Charles “Rick” Rule, to Cadwalader, from Fried Frank. This truly IS like musical chairs: Cadwalader, Rule’s new home, recently lost its antitrust group to Skadden.
* Celebrated criminal defense lawyer Abbe Lowell — who did an excellent job defending Hamlet against murder charges — is moving from Chadbourne & Parke to McDermott Will & Emery.
* Mark Holscher and Jeffrey Sinek are joining the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis. They’re coming from O’Melveny & Myers and Thelen Reid, respectively. From the Law Blog:

Holscher and Sinek are best friends. They were roommates when they served as federal prosecutors in Los Angeles. Holscher, 44, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1989-1995; Sinek, 46, served from 1989 to 1994. Sinek was the best man at Holscher’s wedding; Holscher was a groomsman in Sinek’s. Both graduated from Boalt Hall law school. Holscher told the Law Blog they’ve always wanted to work together.

Alexandra Korry small Alexandra D Korry Above the Law blog.jpgSuch ambiguously gay commentary led an anonymous reader to quip: “Hope that Alexandra Korry doesn’t read about this…”
On The Move: Charles “Rick” Rule [Antitrust Review]
Kirkland Beefs Up West Coast White-Collar Practice [WSJ Law Blog]
Abbe Lowell to Join McDermott from Chadbourne [WSJ Law Blog]
Former Maryland Pol Michael Steele Joins LeBoeuf Lamb [WSJ Law Blog]
Spitzer’s Longtime No. 2 Michele Hirshman to Join Paul Weiss [WSJ Law Blog]

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