Civil Rights

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgEarlier this week, we shared with you what we’ve heard about Ty Clevenger and Shanetta Cutlar.
To recap, Clevenger was a lawyer in the Special Litigation Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. He worked under Cutlar, the Chief of the Section. We wrote:

[Clevenger] had some issues with Cutlar and how she ran the Section. Last fall, Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. Clevenger alleged that Cutlar — whom he described as “extremely intelligent” and “very charming,” but also “a Jekyll and Hyde personality” — created an “atmosphere of fear and paranoia” within the Section.

On October 4, 2006, Ty Clevenger sent his letter to McNulty. Clevenger’s office was searched overnight, and he was fired the next day. He is in the process of filing a whistleblower complaint.

This is what we had heard, from reliable sources; but it struck us as rather odd, almost fishy. It’s just not consistent with what we know about federal government service. As a federal government lawyer, you can do all sorts of things — e.g., write a saucy, pseudonymous judicial gossip blog — and still part ways with your office voluntarily (and on good terms). In the rare cases when government lawyers are fired or asked to resign, events usually unfold at a glacial rather than breakneck pace (unless there is, say, compelling evidence of criminal conduct).
So we reached out to Ty Clevenger himself, by email. He happily responded to our questions. He verified the sequence of events: his sending of the letter to McNulty, followed almost immediately by his being asked to leave.
We asked Clevenger this question:

“Exactly how did the search of your office and the firing go down? It seems rather shocking for a government lawyer to be fired so quickly, especially after sending a letter of complaint to the DAG. It seems like basically a recipe for trouble for the people behind the firing.”

Ty Clevenger’s response to our query, after the jump.

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Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgShanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is a world-class diva. We have described Shanetta’s shenangians here and here.
We worship imperious women like Shanetta Cutlar. But some of you are less warmly disposed towards her. Since we’ve started posting about her, we’ve received some interesting emails and comments from readers — including current and former colleagues of Cutlar. See, e.g., these comments.
The list of people who have had some workplace exposure to Shanetta Cutlar grows longer and longer by the week. This is because the lawyers who work under her keep on leaving. The Special Litigation Section has more turnovers than a pastry shop.
Here are some things we’ve heard from tipsters (unconfirmed; if you see errors or have additions, please email us):

1. Morale is perilously low within the Special Litigation Section, and many attorneys desperately want out.

2. Last month, four attorneys left the Section — including one who was there for less than three months. Two of the others had been there for a little over a year.

3. “Another attorney currently in SPL told the DOJ that she will leave [the Department] if she is not transferred out. She has been there for less than six months.”

Goodness gracious. We agree with commenter Who Are These Babies: All of you Shanetta-haters need to just “[s]uck it up.” If you ever leave the DOJ for a law firm, you will have to put up with Biglaw partners who are ten times worse than Shanetta.
SPL minions, heed the words of Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The next time you pass her in the hallway, say a warm “hello” to Shanetta Cutlar — and thank her for toughening you up.
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

Well knock us down with a feather redweld! The Justice Department’s Shanetta Cutlar, yesterday’s DOJ Diva of the Day, takes the prize for a second day in a row. Diva-licious!
In order to be a true DOJ Diva, you need to pick on “the little people.” If you pick on people your own size, that’s nothing — just standard office politics. But if people far below you on the “org chart” wet themselves when you enter the room, then you know you’re doing something right.
By this standard, Shanetta Cutlar excels. She instills fear in the most humble of God’s creatures: summer interns.
In the summer of 2006, Deborah Meiners, a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School, interned in Cutlar’s fiefdom — the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. And Little Debbie had some frightening run-ins with La Shanetta:
Shanetta Cutlar summer intern Deborah Meiners 1A.JPG
It gets better. Check out the rest of this poor intern’s tale, after the jump.

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Shanetta Cutlar heads the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. After we named her our DOJ Diva of the Day, a number of you asked for more information about her.
Who is Shanetta Cutlar? How long has she been at the Civil Rights Division? Where did she go to law school? And what’s the origin of her distinctive first name?
We did a little research. Accessing PDF files can be a pain — they take forever to launch, they slow down your machine, etc. — but we’ll do anything for our readers. So we opened up this PDF bio:

Shanetta Y. Cutlar is the Chief of the Special Litigation Section, U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Cutlar has worked in the Civil Rights Division since 1993. She served for over 2 years as a Special Counsel prior to becoming Chief. As Special Counsel, Mr. Cutlar led the team of attorneys and professionals handling the investigations of the Cincinnati, Detroit and Prince George’s police departments.

In March 2003, Ms. Cutlar was appointed to the Chief position where she is responsible for supervising and overseeing the work of Section, involving health care facilities, prisons and jails, juvenile detention facilities and police misconduct. She is the first African-American woman to serve as a chief in 25 years, and the second in the history of the Civil Rights Division.

Ms. Cutlar is a graduate of California State University, Hayward and University of California at Los Angeles, Law School. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Ah, Shanetta’s a sorority girl. No wonder she’s so good at (allegedly) cultivating “an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.” Those sorority girls are VICIOUS.
(A Google image search for Shanetta Cutlar comes up empty. But if you have pictures of Ms. Cutlar, or know where on the internet we can find some, please contact us.)
Shanetta Y. Cutlar bio (PDF) [U.S. Department of Justice]
Earlier: DOJ Diva of the Day: Shanetta Y. Cutlar

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgThe Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department — one of the DOJ’s most important arms, charged with enforcing our nation’s anti-discrimination laws — has been experiencing some upheaval over the past few years. Several articles in the Washington Post have examined some of the conflicts within the division. See, e.g., here, here, and here.
We’ve learned that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee may be taking a closer look at what’s going on over at the Civil Rights Division. And when they do, some of their attention may focus on the Special Litigation Section, headed by Shanetta Y. Cutlar.
Here’s an explanation of the Section’s mission, from its website:

[The Section is] charged with enforcing federal civil rights statutes in four major areas: Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons, Conduct of Law Enforcement Agencies, Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and places of Religious Worship, and Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons. The Section undertakes investigations and litigation through the United States and its territories.

The Section Chief is Shanetta Cutlar, an award-winning litigatrix. And even though some attorneys and staff members have alleged that she’s “abusive” — what a subjective word! — Cutlar is a woman after our own heart. There’s nothing we love more than a high-powered female who takes charge of a situation and demands respect from her subordinates. We adore women in leadership roles who follow the teaching of Machiavelli: “[I]t is far safer to be feared than loved.”
A former attorney in the Special Litigation Section, Ty Clevenger — a Stanford Law grad and former law clerk to the highly esteemed Judge Morris Arnold (8th Cir.) — had some issues with Cutlar and how she ran the Section. Last fall, Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. Clevenger alleged that Cutlar — whom he described as “extremely intelligent” and “very charming,” but also “a Jekyll and Hyde personality” — created an “atmosphere of fear and paranoia” within the Section.
On October 4, 2006, Ty Clevenger sent his letter to McNulty. Clevenger’s office was searched overnight, and he was fired the next day. He is in the process of filing a whistleblower complaint.
Here’s the first page of Clevenger’s letter to the DAG:
Shanetta Cutlar Paul McNulty 1.jpg
There’s more. Juicy details about La Shanetta’s alleged behavior are described in the rest of Ty Clevenger’s letter. The letter has been distributed to all the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee (with supporting documentation).
We reprint the entire Clevenger letter, which a source helpfully leaked provided to us, after the jump.

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Marissa Cooper Alex The OC girl girls lesbian kiss.jpgNo, we’re not talking about that time on “The OC” when Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) shared a girl-on-girl kiss with Alex (Olivia Wilde). Rather, we’re referring to a civil rights case currently pending before Judge James Selna, in the Central District of California.
From the L.A. Times (via How Appealing):

Two high schoolers are caught kissing on campus.

Ordinarily, such an incident would garner little attention. But for Charlene Nguon, a smattering of kisses and hugs stolen after school and in between classes led to detention, suspensions, a transfer and a lawsuit.

The reason? That’s what a federal judge in Santa Ana will soon decide.

Nguon says it’s because she was kissing a girl. Ben Wolf, who was then principal of Garden Grove’s Santiago High School, says that’s not the case at all. He insists the problem was that, regardless of whether it was a girl or boy, Nguon continued the kissing despite repeated warnings to knock it off.

And that’s just the tip of this salaciously sapphic iceberg.
Check out the rest, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: Lesbians in the OC”

Orrin Hatch Orrin G Hatch Orrin Grant Hatch Above the Law.jpgThe Legal Times is wondering about the Senate committee plans of Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). They speculate that he might take over the Antitrust Subcommittee of the judiciary panel.
But as we previously reported, Hatch is actually leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee altogether. And now other sources, from the mainstream media, are repeating what we told you last week.
Update (12/14/06): Actually, this did not come to pass. Senator Hatch ended up staying on Judiciary.
As for the second big SJC story we wrote about on Friday, concerning a possible investigation into the DOJ’s Civil Rights division, we expect to have more details in the near future. So check back again soon.
Hatching a Plan?: Hatch Looking for a Committee to Lead [Legal Times]
Earmaking Kansas [American Spectator]
Assessing Roberts’ re-election prospects [Lawrence Journal-World, Lawrence, KS]
Earlier: Juicy News from the Senate Judiciary Committee

Capitol building Above the Law Legal Blog 2.JPGTwo pieces of news from the Senate Judiciary Committee:
1. Orrin Is Outie. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is said to be leaving the Judiciary Committee. Senator Hatch served as committee chairman for many years, before he was replaced as chairman by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), due to the Republicans’ system of term limits for committee chairs.
When the Democrats take over the Senate in January, Senator Specter will become the ranking member. Senator Hatch, if he stayed on the Judiciary Committee, would be just another member — and a minority member, at that. So he’s leaving the committee, to devote his time and energy to other policy areas.
Update (12/14/06): Actually, this did not come to pass. Senator Hatch ended up staying on Judiciary.
2. Let the investigations begin! The SJC’s Democrats are gearing up to look into allegations in a whistleblower complaint, made by a former attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. In connection with this matter, certain documents are being distributed to the Democratic members of the committee, via the office of Senator Pat Leahy (who will take over as chairman in January).
That second story is developing. We’ll have more on it later. If you have anything to add, please email us.

legal eagle wedding watch david lat above the law legal blog law blog david lat david lat atl.JPGOn the whole, this past weekend was a disappointing one for attorney nuptials. There were hardly any lawyer-lawyer weddings in the New York Times weddings-and-celebrations section — we counted just one. And most of the couples involving a lawyer weren’t super-exciting. Perhaps the Labor Day holiday is to blame.
But Legal Eagle Wedding Watch, in which we review and score selected lawyer couples from the NYT wedding announcements, soldiers on. As usual, we rate the happy couples in three to four categories: on their résumés, their families, their couple balance, and their beauty (if pictured).
Today three couples are in the mix:

1. Beth Hansher, David Javdan

2. Patricia Martone, Barbara Rosen

3. Richa Shyam, Deb Dasgupta

So which couple will come out on top? The answer, after the jump.
(Also, don’t forget to vote for your “August 2006 Couple of the Month.” You can do so by clicking here. Thanks!)

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