Department of Justice

scotus crop.jpg* There has been plenty off talk about potential Supreme Court nominees, but how about the conservative groups gearing up to oppose them? [The Washington Post]
* Two highly qualified lesbians, Virginia Linder and Kathleen Sullivan, are apparently on Obama’s Supreme Court short list. [ABC News]
* The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions, says that an openly gay Supreme Court nominee should be treated fairly “regardless of what kind of persuasion they may have.” [Fox News]
* Meanwhile Specter has lost his seniority on the Senate Judiciary Committee and will become the chairman of the subcommittee on crime and drugs. “What we don’t want is an angry former Republican during a Supreme Court hearing,” said a Democratic staffer. [Washington Post]
* Police continue to investigate mysteries surrounding the death of Robert Wone, a Washington lawyer who was murdered in 2006. [The Blog of Legal Times]
* Did you know there was an elite “Public Integrity Section” in the Department of Justice tasked with probing corruption charges of public officials? [The New York Times]

baseball.jpg

* 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]

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGLast night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.

ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.

Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.

See if you know any of them, after the jump.

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(And ODAG picks, too.)”

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPresident Barack Obama has hit the ground running. Even before President Obama was done flubbing taking the oath of office, the revamped White House website was launched. You can check the WH website, including the new “Briefing Room” blog, for news of notable nominations and appointments.

We’ll also follow personnel news here on Above the Law, at least with respect to leading lawyers (most of them bound for the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office). We’ve covered some notable nominations already. E.g, Eric Holder for attorney general; Elena Kagan for solicitrix general; Cass Sunstein for regulatory czar; and Kathy Ruemmler for PADAG.

A few more names have surfaced since then. Some of them pertain to the Office of Legal Counsel, the most prestigious DOJ component to work for other than the Solicitor General’s office (and arguably more powerful). We once dubbed OLC the Finishing School for the Elect:

If you don’t land a Supreme Court clerkship that immediately follows your feeder judge clerkship, cool your heels at the OLC, then reapply to the Court. Success is practically guaranteed!

Dawn Johnsen Indiana University Bloomington OLC.jpgAs previously reported, with the Senate’s consent, the headmistress of the Finishing School will be Dawn Johnsen (pictured). Professor Johnsen teaches law at Indiana University – Bloomington and served at OLC during the Clinton Administration, as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, so she is well-prepared for the job. When we spoke at IU almost two years ago, students we met were already speculating that Professor Johnsen — described as a “brilliant” scholar, even if not the clearest or most effective classroom teacher — might someday return to government.

Professor Johnson will be joined by two more academics: Professor David Barron, of Harvard Law School, and Professor Marty Lederman, of Georgetown Law School. To learn more about their appointments, see Politico and Balkinization, respectively. Professor Lederman may be familiar to many of you as an active contributor in the legal blogosphere, having blogged for Balkinization and SCOTUSblog.

neal katyal Above the Law Legal Blog Above the Law David Lat.JPGSince President Obama is a former legal academic, it should come as no surprise that he’s recruiting so many law profs to join the upper echelons of his administration. The marquee names of Kagan, Sunstein, Johnsen, Barron and Lederman will also be joined by one of the brightest young stars of the legal firmament: Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal (pictured), of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld fame. As reported by the Legal Times (via the WSJ Law Blog), wunderkind Katyal has been tapped to serve as Elena Kagan’s right-hand man, principal deputy solicitor general.

For a comprehensive listing of the top legal eagles in the Obama Administration, see this handy round-up over at the BLT. As you can see, these are big, boldface names — gods and goddesses of our profession. Congratulations and good luck to all of them (not that they’ll need it).

We’ll have more hiring news — including items about less celestial beings, more junior lawyers, people you might actually know — in subsequent posts. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.

Update: Add Harvard’s Einer Elhauge to the list of legal academics bound for the Obama Administration. Details via Brian Leiter.

Marty Lederman joins the Office of Legal Counsel [Balkinization]

Katyal Tapped as Principal Deputy in SG’s Office [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

DOJ in Flux [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

Georgetown to Lose Lederman and Katyal to OLC, SG’s Office [WSJ Law Blog]

Another Bush critic to OLC [Politico]

More Departures from Academia to the Obama Administration: Lederman from Georgetown, Barron from Harvard [Leiter's Law School Reports]

Kathryn Ruemmler Kathryn H Ruemmler Kathy Ruemmler Latham Watkins.jpgSuperstar litigatrix Kathryn Ruemmler, a litigation partner at Latham & Watkins and an Enron prosecutor before that, has been picked to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Obama Justice Department. That title is a mouthful, but lawyers inside the Beltway know it’s a Big Deal.

The revolving door between the DOJ and Latham swings again. Ruemmler has traded places with another fierce female litigator: Alice Fisher, who rejoined the firm after heading up the Criminal Division.

As for Ruemmler, the government’s gain is Latham’s loss. Says one LW tipster: “She’s a really good lawyer, and a genuinely nice person. We’re very sorry to lose her.”

Kathy Ruemmler isn’t just a genial genius; she’s stylish, too. From the WSJ Law Blog, reporting on a day of the Ken Lay trial:

Speaking of footwear, the boldest fashion statement of the day — possibly rivaling O’Melveny paralegal Bill Evans’s goth getup for the gutsiest sartorial move of the week — came from the government’s Ruemmler. The deputy director of the Enron Task Force, who won convictions against four Merrill Lynch bankers in the 2004 Nigerian Barge case, paired a conservative gray suit with stunning 4-inch bright pink stiletto spikes.

Litigatrix indeed. Just because you work for the DOJ doesn’t mean you have to shop at DSW.

There’s a lot of diversity in Obama’s Department picks so far. Eric Holder, nominated to serve as Attorney General, is African-Amercan. Elena Kagan and Dawn Johnsen, nominated to serve as, respectively, Solicitor General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, are women.

The full memo about Ruemmler’s move, after the jump.

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Eric Holder Attorney General Eric H Holder Eric Himpton Holder Jr.jpgThe confirmation hearings for Eric Holder as attorney general just started.

We’ll try to keep an eye on it for you and update you with interesting news and notes. Especially when the Specter in the punch bowl speaks up.

So far Holder has said the word “independent” twice and now we’re going through the list of black people who were shot in the sixties.

Update (10:31): Let me paraphrase question 1:

LEAHY: Waterboarding mutherf***** do you believe in it?

HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.

LEAHY: Gonzales! Are you named GONZALES?

HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.

Update (10:56): Round 1 of Specter v. Holder involved both fighters feeling each other out. Lots of clenching, no haymakers:

SPECTER: Let me remind everybody who Marc Rich is and why he’s a terrible person.

(time passes, seasons change …)

Mr. Holder, did you know about this?

HOLDER: Nope. My bad.

LEAHY: Time!

Score the round 10-10.

Meanhwhile Sen. Herbet Kohl (who also owns the Milwaukee Bucks) wants to know if Holder can ball with Obama. As commenter #5 might point out “that question would never have been asked if Holder was white.”

More updates after the jump.

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office of solicitor general.gifStudents who received a prestigious Bristow Fellowship with the Solicitor General’s Office will be informed today.

The Office of the Solicitor General confirmed with us this morning that the decisions have been made and successful applicants will be told today. If you applied, you might want to keep your phone lines open.

But if you are a student from Yale Law School, this year might not be your year. An inside source tells us that no student from Yale received a fellowship this year.

That’s rough. Students from Yale Law are getting shut down before Harvard Law Dean Elena Kagan even takes over. But we shouldn’t expect Kagan to be unduly influenced by Harvard-Yale competition in her new role. Talent always rises.

Let us know which schools did well in securing a fellowship this year in the comments.

Eric Holder

* Covington & Burling’s Eric Holder is now definite as Obama’s choice for Attorney General. Look out for the official announcement after Thanksgiving. [Politico]

* Former Hunton & Williams partner Emerson Briggs gets 70 months in federal prison for doing very bad things with his firm laptop. [Legal Times]

* California AG Jerry Brown is doing what he can for the pocketbooks of Walmart shoppers. Look out for a $3 discount near you. [Business Week]

* What year is this? “Judge rules that suspects cannot be detained because of ethnicity.” Thanks to Judge Frederic Block, now it’s okay to be Egyptian on a plane. [New York Times]

* Considering a lateral move? Ask the tough financial questions first. [The Recorder]

* Exxon Shipping, Footnote 17. It’s so hot right now. [New York Times]

* New Yorkers, join the ATL editors for drinks and merriment on Dec. 2, courtesy of Major, Lindsey & Africa. [Above The Law]

Michael Mukasey small Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgLast night, Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while addressing the Federalist Society. Some feared the AG had suffered a stroke.

Today brings good news about his condition. This morning we reported (see the 10 AM update): “The AG is fine and will be released from the hospital later today. No word yet on what the diagnosis was. He will be taking a few days off.”

A few days off? Scratch that. He’s heading back into work, perhaps as you read this. Here’s the message he just sent to all Justice Department employees (via the BLT):

As you may have heard, I collapsed briefly last night at the conclusion of a speech. All tests at the hospital have come back with good results, and I feel fine. Accordingly, I plan to report to the Department this afternoon and to continue doing the work I swore to do last November and which it has been an honor to do with you ever since.

Thank you for your good wishes and your good work. It has been and remains an honor to serve with you.

We’re glad to hear that Attorney General Mukasey — widely respected among DOJ lawyers, especially compared to Alberto Gonzales, whose job performance even conservative lawyers won’t defend — is doing well and back on the job.

Feeling Fine After Collapse, Mukasey Returns to Work [ABA Journal]

Mukasey Says He’s Ready for Work Again [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

Earlier: Breaking: Attorney General Mukasey Collapses at Federalist Society Dinner

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFATL correspondent Laurie Lin, on the scene at the annual dinner of the Federalist Society, reports that Attorney General Michael Mukasey “literally collapsed mid-sentence at the podium,” while delivering a speech at the Society’s National Lawyers Convention. It is not clear what AG Mukasey suffered, but a stroke is possible.

“Medical people are working on him now as he lies on the dais,” according to Lin. “Secret Service FBI says no one can get up. Entire hall is shocked and silent.”

Michael Mukasey small Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgUpdate (10:38 PM): “They appear to have an IV in. They have taken him out. Now people are praying…. Everyone is saying it looked like a stroke. People are very somber. Some people from the DOJ are visibly shaken.”

Update (10:47 PM): According to radio reports, Mukasey did not immediately regain consciousness after collapsing, and was taken to an area hospital. More from Politico over here.

Update (11:03 PM): According to a different source, Mukasey had regained consciousness by the time he was taken out of the room.

Update (11:06 PM): People are now being allowed to leave the room. From Laurie Lin: “The party ended abruptly, needless to say. The tone of the man [perhaps David McIntosh] who prayed after they took out the AG seemed pretty grim. He asked for prayers for Mukasey’s wife, who was there according to the program, and the Mukasey family.”

More updates after the jump.

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