Civil Rights

Human Rights Campaign HRC gay rights Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s give credit where credit is due. The Human Rights Campaign has released its annual Best Places to Work list. It shows that law firms are great when it comes to creating a non-discriminatory environment for gays and lesbians. The ABA Journal reports:

In 2006, the first year law firms were included in the Human Rights Campaign survey, 12 got a perfect rating of 100 percent [on the Corporate Equality Index]. This year an unprecedented 88 law firms got perfect ratings, “eclipsing every other industry represented on the index,” according to a press release. The group evaluated 127 law firms in all; 124 of them were among the nation’s largest 200 law firms.

Our industry deserves a large pat on the back. In a time of massive layoffs, it is great that law firms are still committed to equality when it comes to sexual orientation.

Check out the list of firms that are good for gays here (PDF).

Top Law Firms for Equality – 2010 [Human Rights Campaign]
Law Firms Outshine Other Companies in Ranking by Gay Rights Group [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Which Law Firms Are Down With the Gays?

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* The U.S. government may force GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy to ensure re-payment of the $17.4 billion bailout to taxpayers. [Bloomberg]

* A hearing today before the Ninth circuit in San Francisco will provide insight in to the administration’s views on extraordinary rendition–the secret transfer of a terror suspect from one state to another. [ABC]

* The Italian Senate will discuss a “Right-to-die” bill designed to keep an Italian woman on life-support. [The International Herald Tribune]

* When will the baseball steroid scandal ever end? Sportsfans are up in arms about reports that Alex Rodriguez used steroids in 2003. [Reuters]

* A new book “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice,” sheds light on a forgotten hero in the civil rights movement and the legal fight to de-segregate busses. [The Associated Press]

* Need a job? Attorney Michael D. Hausfeld, who once represented Holocaust victims against Swiss banks, started a law firm that focuses on protecting businesses against global cartels. [The Washington Post]

martin luther king.jpgToday we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the pioneering civil rights leader. If you’re not at work, we hope that you are enjoying the day off. (We are around, but will be posting less than usual.)

If you are at work, be proud. We’re pretty sure that equal opportunities to be productive cogs in the capitalist machine, regardless of race color or creed, were part of Dr. King’s dream.

If you are looking for something to do, we suggest that you treat today as an opportunity for public service. You can look up a service project in your area at MLKDay.gov or you can join the incoming president.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service [MLKDay.gov]


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* Change you can believe in? It looks like Obama has recruited a few “washington insiders”: 8 of the 10 top lawyers he has hired for his transition team are veterans of the Clinton administration. [Bloomberg.com]

* After his hunt yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia told a room full of big-time Texas lawyers that he disagreed with judges who used foreign law to interpret the constitution. [Houston Chronicle]

* “Protesters galvanized by a dragging death that has stirred memories of the notorious James Byrd case rallied twice outside an eastern Texas courthouse to speak out against a judicial system they consider racist.” [Associated Press]

* Are you ready for your close-up Mr. Rehnquist? The Hoover institution released files documenting Rehnquist’s first three years on the Court, years filled with land-mark cases like Roe v. Wade and United States vs. Nixon. [New York Times]

* California Attorney general is pushing the Supreme Court to decide the legality of Prop. 8. The Court could begin to act as soon as Wednesday, when they have their weekly conference. [San Jose Mercury News]

* Say it ain’t so! Washington regulators have finally opened up the doors on Belgian-based beer company InBev’s acquisition of Anheuser Busch, which monopolizes

50% of the US beer market. The merger will make InBev the largest beer company in the world. [Courthouse News Service]

* Sorry Ohio…President-elect Obama is probably going to wait a while before overhauling NAFTA. [Bloomberg.com]

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgIf you’ve been reading ATL for a while, you may recall our copious coverage of Shanetta Cutlar. She’s the high-powered chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, and she has a reputation — perhaps deserved, perhaps not — for being challenging to work for.

In case you don’t remember Ms. Cutlar, this message from a former underling, not previously published, sums things up nicely:

I laughed when I saw Shanetta on your blog. Of all the bosses that I have ever had, I probably could not remember any of their names — except for Shanetta. On the first day, [one female intern] got on the elevator with several people, including Shanetta. She had not yet been introduced to anybody except for the intern superivisors. When she got back to her cubicle/office, she was called to Shanetta’s office, where she was thoroughly reamed out by Shanetta for not acknowledging her presence in the elevator. The poor girl was practically traumatized and afterwards was crying at her desk….

The entire office — and it was a large one — had a childish atmosphere that was similar to an elementary school playground. Shanetta was the bully/popular girl who was constantly surrounded by her clique, and who was constantly embarrassing other people merely for her own amusement. She called an entire staff meeting in order to publicly reprimand one person for going shopping during their lunch break.

She called [another intern] into her office once in order to berate him about not filling out a form correctly in preparation for an out-of-state trip…. Is it really necessary for the Section Chief to micromanage intern travel forms? All-in-all, Shanetta has something akin to the “little man syndrome,” only it would be more aptly named entitled “big-mean-ass-woman syndrome.”

Anyway, in response to reader requests for updates on SYC, we finally have some news to report. Shanetta Cutlar has been sued by one former DOJ employee, Ty Clevenger, in federal court (D.D.C.).

Clevenger’s pro se lawsuit, filed against Cutlar and several other current and former Justice Department employees, makes claims under Bivens, the Rehabilitation Act (disability discrimination), RICO (a DOJ section as a RICO enterprise = awesomeness), invasion of privacy, libel, and civil conspiracy.

Our favorite part is this tidbit from paragraph 15: “Defendant Cutlar publicly berated a new attorney…. [because that attorney] used a paperclip on a document instead of a binder clip.” You can check out the full complaint via the link below.

Clevenger v. Cutlar: Complaint [PDF]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

Laurence Fishburne Thurgood Marshall Broadway Booth theatre theater.jpgIf you’re in New York today (Sunday) and looking for something to do in the afternoon, consider checking out Thurgood. It’s a one-man show about the life of Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), starring Laurence Fishburne (best known as Morpheus of The Matrix, but with a long list of other film and theater credits).
It’s an entertaining and educational production, and Laurence Fishburne turns in a superb performance. As one friend of ours, an ex-theater major, put it, “Fishburne was able to make the audience forget that this is a one-man show.”
As one might expect from a play based on the life of a heroic historical figure, Thurgood occasionally verges on the pedantic and preachy (“one person can make a difference”; “we know how far we’ve come — but we also know how far we still have to go”). Law nerds might find feel patronized by the more expository parts of the play, like the mini-reviews of Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education. You can often sense the “message” button being pushed.
But hey, everyone needs a refresher course every now and then. And there are enough interesting bits of biographical trivia — as well as ample entertainment, in the form of humorous anecdotes from Marshall’s life, well-told by Fishburne — to make you forgive the more didactic or heavy-handed elements.
If you’d like to see Thurgood, you need to act fast; it’s closing today. The 3 p.m. matinee is the final performance. You can probably get discounted tickets at the TKTS booth (since Thurgood was there last week, and there were definitely a few empty seats at the performance we attended yesterday).
Additional thoughts — if you’re planning on seeing the play, save these for later, so you can form your own opinions free of taint — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Theater Review: Thurgood”

Last month we asked you which holidays you worked on, or expected to work on, during 2007. About half of you reported that you had worked on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In today’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we see how you fared last week. Did you take the day off to honor a champion of civil rights, or did you make it a “day on”?
[Update: This survey is now closed. Click here for the results.]
In the meantime, at least one of you noticed that I am not Dave Lat. I’m actually Justin Bernold, a Director in Lateral Link’s Boston office. I’m also a friend (and fan) of Dave’s from college and the author of, among other things, the Associate Pirate (Arr is for Resume!) blog.

* Top candidates turn to trial lawyers for support. [Washington Post]
* More recusal requests expected in WV Supreme Court. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Former NFL player’s wife files malpractice suit over surgery. [ESPN]
* Suffrage suffers in Mexico. [MSNBC]
* How to count primary delegates (and an explanation of the “superdelegates”). [New York Times; New York Times]
* “It’s just not realistic” to present major new initiatives, but the SOTU will still be on every channel tonight. White House speechwriters are not on strike. [CNN]
* Super-litigator Tom Barr of Cravath, RIP. [New York Times (death notice); WSJ Law Blog]

Martin Luther King Jr Dr Rev.jpgToday we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the pioneering civil rights leader. Dr. King’s birthday was actually on January 15th, but the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year.
Many of you are not in the office today, in honor of the holiday. If you’re not at work, we hope that you are enjoying the day off. (We are around, but will be posting less than usual.)
If you are looking for something to do, we suggest that you treat today as an opportunity for public service. You can look up a service project in your area at MLKDay.gov.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Blawg Review #143 [Public Defender Stuff via Blawg Review]
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service [MLKDay.gov]

Susana Lorenzo Giguere 2 DOJ Justice Department Above the Law blog.jpgIf you’re thinking of moving from private practice to government, you should be prepared to take a hit in perks as well as pay. Sure, your hours will be better — just avoid the S.D.N.Y. — and you might even get a free flu shot. But you won’t have the fancy offices, the swanky lunches, or round-the-clock support staff. Sometimes you’ll have to make your own photocopies.
It is not, however, all doom and gloom. In the past, Department of Justice employees got to enjoy four-dollar meatballs (plus $13,000 in brownies). And now we hear that for at least one DOJ diva, work was a day at the beach — quite literally.
From Al Kamen of the Washington Post:

[T]he acting deputy director of the [voting rights] section, Susana Lorenzo-Giguere, has been accused of collecting a $64 per diem, including on weekends and the Fourth of July, while spending half of June and most of July and August with her husband and kids at their beach house on Cape Cod.

The allegation, made to the department inspector general apparently by someone linked to the Boston regional office, was that Lorenzo-Giguere made “multiple” government-paid trips to the Cape and that she improperly said that “her presence on Cape Cod was necessary pending litigation in Boston,” which was in the courts over the summer….

The complaint also alleged that Lorenzo-Giguere “spent little time in Boston” this summer and did little work on the case. Also, what supervision and oversight she provided was done by phone to Boston while she “remained on the beach,” and she would have been able to do this from her office in Washington.

C’mon, folks — cut Susana some slack. Her kids needed her; building sandcastles is no easy task. And she probably looks great in a swimsuit, too.
More about Ms. Lorenzo-Giguere, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “For DOJ Diva, Work Is a Day at the Beach”

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