Benjamin Brafman

Dinesh D’Souza pleaded guilty to a charge related to illegal campaign contributions in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday. D’Souza, a conservative commentator, Reagan White House policy adviser, and Christian apologist, is widely known for his documentary film 2016: Obama’s America. D’Souza faces up to sixteen months in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for September 23.

The case involved D’Souza’s use of “straw donors” when his own campaign contributions reached their legal limit. He encouraged two people close to him to each donate to the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. D’Souza promised to reimburse them for the donations. According to a press release by the Department of Justice, “Later that same day or the next day, D’SOUZA, as promised, reimbursed the Straw Donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions.”

D’Souza’s defenders and critics can apparently agree on several points:

(1) D’Souza committed the crime.
(2) D’Souza committed the crime in an astonishingly ham-fisted way. (There’s nothing sly about handing over cash the day after a conversation like that. D’Souza might as well have delivered the money in a box marked “Campaign Finance Law Violation.”)
(3) The government is making an example of him.

What each side means by “making an example of him” is what makes this case more interesting . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Selective Prosecution Or Equal Justice: What Kind Of Example Does Dinesh D’Souza Set?”

Helping a bride make her wedding is about the best ‘Mitzvah’ a person can do.

Benjamin Brafman, the prominent criminal defense attorney (for stars like Michael Jackson, Sean Combs, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn), describing his decision to pen a $5,000 check to help a couple fighting to get their deposit back after booking a South Street Seaport venue damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Brafman wrote the check to the couple he’d never met after reading about them in the New York Post, proving it’s not always bad news to find your name in the Post.

If you’re like me, two of your last three Sunday night sports orgies have been ruined by the intrusion of real world events. First, Osama bin Laden lost the ultimate game of Call of Duty. Then last night Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and would-be president of France, was pulled off of a plane at JFK and arrested for a sex crime. And in the middle of those two world events, Mother’s Day happened.

(Note to NFL owners: this is the kind of crap that’ll be happening in the fall if you guys refuse to let people play football.)

As world events go, this is pretty big. Think about it: we’ve got the head of one of the five most powerful NGOs in the world, the leader of the Socialist party, a sex scandal, a super-fancy hotel, a maid, and an alleged escape attempt thwarted at JFK — and this has nothing to do with Bill Clinton! I mean come on, if you found out that the Lannisters were involved, would you be surprised?

And on the legal front, we’re talking about an important and respected international figure who just got denied bail.

Excuse me, I need to get my popcorn out of the microwave….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Bail For Famous European Charged With Sex Crime? Fool Me Once, Shame On You…”

Benjamin Brafman Sean Combs P Diddy Above the Law blog.jpgFollowing in the footsteps of Sullivan & Cromwell partner Eric Krautheimer, today’s Non-Top-Tier Law School Graduate of the Day also has a law degree from a Tier 4 law school, supplemented by an LLM from NYU. And just like Eric Krautheimer, his tremendously successful career provides support for the proposition that it’s not where you got your legal education, but what you do with it, that counts.
Name: Benjamin Brafman
Law School: Ohio Northern University, J.D., with distinction, 1974
Current Position: Partner, Brafman & Associates, P.C.
Why He’s Our Winner: Brafman is one of New York’s top criminal defense attorneys, with a long list of celebrity clients (including, for a time, Michael Jackson). Our tipster sums it up nicely: “He represented Diddy! He probably met J.Lo! How can you beat that?”
Brafman & Associates, P.C. []
Benjamin Brafman [Wikipedia]
Little Big Man [New York Magazine]

Musical Chairs Above the Law Legal Blog Above the Law Legal Tabloid Above the Law Legal Gossip Site.GIFPersonnel changes are everywhere today — and not just on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon. Some notable moves within the legal profession:
Lateral Moves:
* Private equity and M&A lawyer Dennis Barsky, to Jones Day, from Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
* Corporate lawyer Jonathan Stapleton and investment-funds lawyer Margaret Paradis, to Baker & McKenzie (NY), from Arnold & Porter and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, respectively.
* Insurance and financial services lawyer Chiu-Ti Jansen, to Sidley Austin, from LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
Government to Private Sector:
* Marc Agnifilo, former head of the violent and organized crime unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, is joining Brafman and Associates. Yes, that Brafman — renowned criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman, Diddy-defending attorney to the stars.
(Disclosure: Marc Agnifilo is a former colleague of ours, as well as a tremendously experienced and exceptionally talented lawyer. He has a fantastic sense of humor. And he’s the nephew of celebrated writer Don DeLillo.)
Firm Adds Two NY Corporate Partners []
NY Private Equity Partner Switches Firms []
NY Lawyers On the Move []
Baker & McKenzie LLP Announces Ambitious New Strategy and Leadership Team in New York [Baker & McKenzie]

musical chairs above the law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFToday’s big move is from the government to the private sector:
* Renowned Enron prosecutor Sean Berkowitz, to the Chicago office of Latham & Watkins. The much-anticipated move took place after the young legal superstar was wooed by many other top firms. Berkowitz will be an equity partner at Latham, where profits per partner clock in at $1.6 million — at least ten times what he earned as an AUSA.
(Berkowitz, you may recall, was dating financial reporter Bethany McLean, who covered the Enron trial for Fortune magazine. Anyone know whether they are still an item — and if so, how serious? Partner profits are great for buying engagement rings.)
The boom in white-collar criminal prosecutions has created lots of job opportunities for government lawyers. Another notable move: former SEC lawyer David Mittelman, headed for the San Francisco office of Reed Smith.
New Partners:
* Cleary Gottlieb, aka Clearly Goatlips — we hadn’t heard that one before, it’s a good one — names eight new partners and six new counsel. No word on whether a swimming test was required.
Here’s the firm’s press release. See if you know any of these soon-to-be millionaires.
Lateral Moves:
* Patent prosecutrix Margaret Brivanlou, to King & Spalding (NY), from Jones Day. (She joined Jones Day when it gobbled up much of what had been IP boutique Pennie & Edmonds.)
* Litigator Daniel Murdock, to Fulbright & Jaworski (NY), from Winston & Strawn (where he formerly chaired the New York litigation practice).
New Firm:
* Charles Ross, former head of the white-collar practice at Herrick Feinstein, has left to start his own firm. Charles A. Ross & Associates will handle criminal defense and some civil cases. Ross is also a former law partner of the Diddy-defending Benjmain Brafman, go-to guy for celebrities with legal problems.
Cleary Gottlieb Announces 14 New Partners and Counsel Worldwide [Cleary Gottlieb]
Enron Prosecutor Berkowitz Joins Latham & Watkins [WSJ Law Blog]
Firm Nabs SEC Attorney []

spyglass 2.jpgCelebrity sighting columns are a staple of gossip magazines and gossip blogs. E.g., Gawker Stalker, Wonk’d, Judicial Sightations. So, in this spirit, we proudly present The Eyes of the Law — your source for all the legal celebrity sightings that are fit to print (and a few that aren’t).
Since we don’t get out that much — we get an electrical shock if we stray ten feet from our keyboard — we need your help. We’ll need you to make the sightings and submit them to us, by email (subject line: “Sighting”). Then we’ll publish them on the internet, for all the world to enjoy. (We’ve already received a few; keep ‘em coming!)
A few tips and guidelines to help you in your celeb-spotting:

(1) When you make a sighting, please be as observant as possible. How was the person looking — hot, or not? What were they wearing? What kind of mood were they in? Were they alone, or with others?

(2) On a related note, digital photographs to support your sighting are especially welcome. A thousand words, etc.

(3) A true “sighting” requires seeing the personality outside of their natural habitat — and preferably doing something that one might not expect them to be doing. So sightings of federal judges in courthouses and law school deans in the halls of their schools don’t count. But we welcome sightings of judges or deans at, say, a baseball game — or, better yet, a nudie bar.

Here are the types of people who qualify as sighting subjects in our book:

(1) any federal judge (but we’re talking Article III here — no bankruptcy or magistrate judges, ick);

(2) any member of a state’s highest court;

(3) a state court judge from a lower court, but only if they’re notorious for doing the kinds of things that state court judges are known for doing (e.g., using a penis pump on the bench, facilitating the escape of a violent felon, etc.);

(4) famous practicing lawyers, like David Boies, Ted Olson, Mark Geragos, or Ben Brafman (if you have to explain who they are, they’re not famous);

(5) prominent law school deans, like current Yale dean Harold Koh, current Harvard dean Elena Kagan, and former Stanford dean Kathleen Sullivan;

(6) well-known law professors, like Laurence Tribe, Lawrence Lessig, Lani Guinier, or Anita Hill (no, your first-year legal writing instructor doesn’t count); and

(7) law-related television personalities, like Judge Judy Sheindlin, Nancy Grace, or Jeffrey Toobin.

This list is not exhaustive; we may have overlooked certain categories of legal eagles that we’d like you to spot. But it gives you a good idea of the kinds of people we’re interested in.
So enough idle chatter; get to it. Rustle up some juicy sightings, and submit them to us forthwith, by email. Much thanks!