Barack Obama

orly taitz.jpgOrly Taitz is a California attorney described by Wikipedia as “a leading figure in the ‘birther’ movement, which challenges whether Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen eligible to serve as President of the United States.” She started the Defend Our Freedoms nonprofit in order to wage the birther battle. We’re glad to see that its website does not have a photo of Obama with a question mark; instead, it has a tasteful image of Taitz’s head photoshopped over the Constitution, the American flag, and ALR volumes.
Earlier this year, Taitz went to federal court (M.D. Ga.) to request a restraining order on behalf of Army doctor Connie Rhodes preventing Rhodes’s deployment to Iraq. Taitz claimed that the deployment order was illegal because President Obama is not legally president, and attached among her evidence the obviously-faked Kenyan birth certificate for Obama that has circulated on the Internetz.
Federal judge Clay Land aborted that birther suit and reprimanded Taitz for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, Connie Rhodes wrote Judge Land a letter saying she found out about the lawsuit via media reports and had neither asked Taitz to represent her nor wished to resist her deployment.
Yet Taitz is still laboring over this suit and filed an order challenging Land’s dismissal of the case. He responded by giving her a two-week deadline to explain why he shouldn’t sanction her and fine her $10,000. On the deadline, she filed a motion to recuse Land from the case. He didn’t like that…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Orly Taitz”

Barack Obama small President Barack Obama.jpgThe current New Yorker has an interesting piece by Jeffrey Toobin on President Obama’s judicial picks. Toobin took part in a live chat about the piece at NewYorker.com right now earlier today if you’re interested. (Try not to crash their website.).
UPDATE: The chat’s quite interesting. Toobin reveals why he likes Justice Souter best and answers this young wannabe judge’s question:

11:31 Guest: I’m a 25 year old law student, I want to be a judge, and my roommate smokes pot. How worried should I be? Do you think people will still care when I’m older?

11:32 Jeffrey Toobin: Don’t inhale! I’m kidding. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. Our president has more or less admitted he was a pretty big pothead in his day, and it’s been a non-issue. Certainly the fact that your roommate smokes — not you — is irrelevant.

Toobin’s piece is available online to non-subscribers here. If you don’t feel like clicking through seven pages, here’s the ATL reader’s digest version:
Jeffrey Toobin small CNN New Yorker legal lawyer Above the Law blog.jpg

  • Aging liberal judges hung on through the Bush era, but once a Dem took over, they were ready to hang up their robes. Additionally, since 2006, Senator Patrick Leahy has prevented Bush’s nominees from getting through the Judiciary Committee. Now vacancies abound in the federal judiciary.
  • Bush kicked ass in choosing judges; Obama is taking his sweet time. In the first eight months of their respective terms, Bush nominated 52 judges while Obama has chosen 17.
  • Obama says he’s looking for “experiential diversity” in his judicial nominations: “not just judges and prosecutors but public defenders and lawyers in private practice.” But his first batch of nominees are mainly former judges, like SCOTUS justice Sonia Sotomayor and Indianapolis federal district judge David Hamilton, nominated by Obama to the Seventh Circuit.
    More bullets, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Peering Into The Crystal Ball for Obama’s Judicial Picks
    (Plus a live chat with the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin)”

  • Russia.jpgFriday was the last day for companies on the government dole to submit their pay plans to Kenneth Feinberg, our nation’s new Pay Czar. The new compensation commissar is as powerful as a mid-winter blizzard on the Eurasian Steppe. According to Law.com:

    The Obama administration’s “pay czar” is embarking on a review of proposed compensation packages for the top employees at seven companies that are on government life support, marking the first time a federal official will have veto power over how much private-sector executives are compensated.

    Kenneth Feinberg, who ran the government’s fund for families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has 60 days to approve or reject the compensation plans submitted this week from bailout recipients. They include American International Group Inc. and General Motors.

    Can’t you just see a detail of Feinberg’s men assigned to follow Fritz Henderson (the new CEO of GM) during his training routine? One day maybe Fritz will outrun Feinberg’s men and climb to the top of a high peak and scream “Fein-BERG,” as he prepares for an epic final battle with Feinberg himself?

    In the meantime, here are more reasons why being a lawyer right now is better than being a banker.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Хороший день, Comrade Pay Czar. Не снимите нас”

    Obama Change.JPGAfter taking some criticism for appointing federal judges who need to wear Life Alert buttons Underneath their Robes, Obama seems to be reversing course. Politico reports:

    On Friday, Obama nominated Abdul Kallon, 40, of Birmingham, Ala., and Jacqueline Nguyen, 44, of Los Angeles, Calif., to district court judgeships. The two lawyers are the youngest of the 12 judicial nominees Obama has put forward since taking office.

    While the appointments are a departure from this administration’s past habits, they are representative of Obama’s commitment to diversity on the bench:

    Don’t tell the birthers, but both Nguyen and Kallon were born outside the U.S.! Nguyen was born in Dalat, Vietnam and fled with her family in the evacuation of Saigon… Kallon was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

    Including more immigrants will make Barack’s bench look more like America. And these new people might be around a long, long time.
    Obama goes young(er) with new judge picks [Politico]
    Old World [The New Republic]

    baseball.jpg* Republicans slam Obama for his “empathy” standard for his SCOTUS nominee, citing an earlier speech on the Senate floor emphasizing a different standard. [The Washington Post]
    * Speaking of Obama, is he “the best lawyer to occupy the U.S. presidency since William Howard Taft”? [Foreign Policy]
    * The Yankees held a moot court in a room off the clubhouse. Would you want to face a jury of Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon? [The New York Times]
    * The Justice Department has arranged for the first Guantanamo inmate to be tried in a New York court. [The Washington Post]
    * Shuttered Chrysler dealers may have a tough time fighting their closures in court, due to the freedom that bankruptcy laws give courts to tear up contracts. [The Wall Street Journal]
    * Immigrants are being deported in the middle of their court cases. [The Los Angeles Times]

    Craigslist small.jpg* President Obama will talk about his plans to close Guantanamo in a national address in order to rally support from the public after getting shut down by members of Congress. [CNN]
    * After quietly accepting charges from several states, Craiglist is fighting back. The company sued South Carolina’s attorney general for violating free speech and the Commerce Clause with his prosecution threats. [San Francisco Chronicle]
    * A “flamboyant” high profile defense attorney in New Jersey who was famous for saying “no witness, no case” has been charged with having key witnesses murdered. [New York Times]
    * “Manhattan prosecutors have charged a New York personal injury lawyer with stealing $650,000 in client settlement money. [ABA Journal]
    * Despite his liberal tendencies, David Souter treated the business community well. Will Obama’s successor do the same? [Wall Street Journal]
    * The pitfalls and benefits of power of attorney. [New York Times]

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    * SCOTUS will look at the separation of church and state when they decide whether “a cross to honor fallen soldiers can stand in a national preserve in California.” [The Los Angeles Times]

    * Lawyers say Madoff must have had help with his Ponzi scheme. [Bloomberg]

    * Attorney General Eric Holder visited Guantanamo yesterday to see what is needed to close the prison. [The Associated Press]

    * Meanwhile, a Pentagon official who inspected Guantanamo at Obama’s request is under fire from human rights activists for filing a report (which declares Gitmo humane) that is little more than good public relations for the administration. [The New York Times]

    * What do you do when your boss gets indicted for securities fraud? You get another job. A team of seven bankruptcy lawyers left Dreier LLP for Epstein Becker Green. [EBG]

    * A federal judge encouraged the Obama administration to decide whether to keep pursuing a case against 11 Vietnam War Veterans accused of trying to overthrow Laos’s communist government. [The Associated Press]

    * Judge says: UBS must respond to the U.S. lawsuit seeking disclosure of 52,000 names of people who allegedly used Swiss accounts for tax evasion. [Bloomberg]

    Cass Sunstein Samantha Power engaged ATL Above the Law blog.jpgBack in July, when we covered the nuptials of celebrity professors / Obama advisers Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power, we wrote: “We look forward to seeing the heights to which they will ascend, together, in the administration of President Obama.”

    Well, now we know. Both have snagged important positions in the White House. As previously reported, Sunstein, a former colleague of Obama’s from the University of Chicago Law School faculty, was tapped to serve as “regulatory czar” — a big deal in an administration that will be cranking out lots of regulations.

    And last night we learned that Samantha Power will be joining hubby Cass at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Associated Press:

    Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a ”monster” while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House….

    Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.

    See, Obama does have a sense of humor! Or, more likely, Obama always planned to give Power a plum position, despite “Monstergate.” Sure, it wasn’t her finest hour; but as a Harvard Law School grad, Power is entitled to a few undiplomatic moments. Speculates Gawker: “If someone really wants to hire you, he’ll make your future boss promise to be nice to you, in exchange for her job.”

    Update: More good news for Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. A tipster tells us: “They’re creating a super-child of the 21st century. She’s pregnant!”

    A little more about the Power couple, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Now Power and Sunstein Can Carpool To Work”

    White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGYes We Can…. Hire lots and lots of Supreme Court clerks?

    In prior posts (here and here), we reported on the impressive legal team that President Barack Obama has assembled to staff key positions in his administration. Like many of the Bush Administration lawyers they’re replacing, the Obama lawyers have impressive pedigrees: degrees from top law schools, often with honors and/or law review experience; impressive clerkships, including many SCOTUS clerkships; and stints at leading law firms (but with WilmerHale and Williams & Connolly replacing Gibson Dunn and Kirkland & Ellis as the feeder firms).

    Several legal superstars are making big financial sacrifices to go into government service. They can expect low six-figure salaries as government lawyers, a far cry from the seven figures that some of them — not the law professors, but the Biglaw partners — earned in the private sector. As reported by Ken Vogel over at Politico:

    Eric Holder, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will get a separation payment from his firm, Covington & Burling, of between $1 million and $5 million, plus a share of the firm’s profits from this year “based on work performed through date of separation,” and a repayment of between $500,000 and $1 million from the firm’s capital account…. [Holder] earned $3.3 million last year as partner.

    Jeh Johnson, Obama’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top lawyer, would get a severance of between $1 million and $5 million from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, an international law firm. He’ll also get his $200,000 capital investment back from the firm, which paid him $2.6 million last year as a partner.

    For more details — e.g., how much Eric Holder and Jeh Johnson’s retirement plans and pensions might be worth — see Politico.

    In our earlier hiring round-ups, we missed a few names. Many tipsters came forward to fill in the blanks.

    Learn about the latest legal eagles to land in the Obama nest, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: More Additions to the White House Legal Dream Team”

    Gillibrand Senator.jpg* Governor Patterson has chosen Kirsten Gillibrand, a 42-year-old New York congresswoman, to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. [Reuters]

    * On the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade protestors gather for the annual March for Life on the National Mall. [The Los Angeles Times]

    * The Senate has confirmed six members of Obama’s cabinet but Attorney General-designate Eric Holder is still waiting. [The Associated Press]

    * Blagojevich may file a lawsuit challenging “unfair” Senate trial rules to the state Supreme Court. [The Washington Post]

    * Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the case of an accused al-Qaida agent, the only enemy combatant held on US soil. [The Associated Press]

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