Department of Justice

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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Eric Holder new DOJ boss.JPGNewsweek is reporting that Covington & Burling partner Eric Holder will be picked as the new U.S. Attorney General:

Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments.

Holder would become the first African-American to head the Department of Justice.

Holder received his B.A. and J.D. from Columbia. Obama’s transition team is still debating Holder’s deputy:

One top candidate, favored by Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other former Clinton White House officials, is Elena Kagan, dean of the Harvard Law School and a former lawyer in the White House counsel’s office under Clinton. Another top candidate, favored by other Obama advisors, is David Ogden, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, who is currently heading Obama’s Justice Department transition team. Kagan brings legal policy credentials; Ogden has more experience in the Justice Department trenches.

Will Holder depoliticize the DOJ? We hope that is near the top of his agenda.

Obama’s Attorney General [Newsweek]

Newsweek: Holder is Next Attorney General [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]

Earlier: Legal Stars of the New Administration

Lawyers Poised To Rule The World

New attorneys for the next administration.JPGNew lawyers to lead the nation are sending in their résumés. Already, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley has received a choice position as part of Obama’s transition advisory board. (I wonder if he’s accepting resumes from his students?)

Here’s an interesting choice for Edley and the rest of the transition team that will be picking the next Solicitor General. According to the Legal Times:

No woman has ever served as solicitor general, but a number have been mentioned as candidates for the job in an Obama administration. Stanford Law School professors Kathleen Sullivan and Pamela Karlan and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan are possibilities, as well as Morrison & Foerster partner Beth Brinkmann and MetLife litigation counsel Teresa Wynn Roseborough.

They could also be considered to lead of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which produces legal opinions on complex matters for the attorney general and the president. Lawyers who have held both positions have gone on to become Supreme Court justices. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Justices Stanley Reed and Thurgood Marshall were solicitors general. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and current Justice Antonin Scalia once headed the Office of Legal Counsel. That experience could come in handy should one or more Supreme Court justices step down in the next four years.

Speculation has also centered on prominent African-American attorneys who may be ready to step forward:

Valerie Jarrett (Stanford, Michigan Law): Jarrett is a longtime Obama adviser, who’s now one of three people heading his transition team. She told the WSJ that blacks won’t be pigeonholed into “historically conventional” roles, such as secretary of housing and urban development or assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Other high profile positions after the jump.

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Back in February, we broke the news of the engagement of Monica Goodling — the high-powered former Justice Department lawyer, who admitted to “cross[ing] the line” into politics with respect to DOJ hiring — to Michael Krempasky, the Edelman exec and prominent conservative blogger.

We are now pleased to announce that Goodling and Krempasky got married earlier this month. Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple!

(And condolences to those of you who think of Goodling as a “Sexy Puritan”; she is now officially off the market.)

P.S. Speaking of lawyer nuptials, Legal Eagle Wedding Watch is on a temporary hiatus. But fear not — it will be back soon.

Earlier: Monica Goodling Is Engaged!
A Postcript on the Monica Goodling – Michael Krempasky Engagement

1081067_dumbbell.jpg* Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias speaks out against the DOJ’s ACORN probe. [Talking Points Memo]

* Judges in China refuse to take lawsuits over tainted milk. [Associated Press]

* They may cause rashes. And brain cancer. But we still love them. [Reuters]

* Grand jury investigations for Lehman, in New York and New Jersey. [CNN Money]

* Pfizer settles its painkiller suits for $894 million. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* 24 Hour Fitness hates poor people. [Courthouse News Service]

* David Lat was in Charlottesville this week talking to UVA law students about job hunting. He advised going off the beaten track. [Virginia Law]

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)

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThe Office of the Inspector General has released its final report on the removal of nine U.S. attorneys from the Department of Justice.

The 392-page report can be downloaded here.

This morning, the New York Times reported:

[O]fficials with knowledge of the inspector general’s investigation and defense lawyers who have been involved in it said they did not expect that the investigation would recommend that criminal charges be pursued at this point against Mr. Gonzales or other officials. The report was expected to recommend that investigators continue to pursue some elements of the case, meaning that the legal questions around Mr. Gonzales would continue.

Enjoy your hard working tax dollars.

An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 (.pdf) [DOJ]

No Charges Expected in Dismissal of Attorneys [New York Times]

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgToday is the day that the U.S. Department of Justice emails applicants to set up interviews for the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Each division is sending out its own letter.

If you didn’t receive one of these emails, well, then you probably didn’t attend the Nobody F**** With the Jesus School Of Law:

Congratulations! You have been selected for an interview by the [redacted] for the Attorney General’s Honors Program.

The Department of Justice is issuing separate Email messages, component by component, to the candidates selected for interviews. Please note that your application was referred to all components you designated as employment preferences. If you do not receive a message from any specific component, then you were not selected by that hiring component for an interview.

Once all component notification messages have been issued, we will send a separate Email message providing instructions on how to schedule your interview. Please follow the instructions in the notification Email message and review the Travel Memo posted at www.usdoj.gov/oarm/arm/hp/hpinterview.htm.

Thank you for your interest in the Department of Justice and good luck in your interview.

We expect this year’s hiring process to be heavily scrutinized. What should an interviewee do as they walk into that charged environment? Wear a McCain button? Waterboard the receptionist? Or maybe go the other way and give her a hug (and then bus her halfway across town to a superior school district)? Either way, be sure to talk about “change” a lot.

We kid the Justice Department because they’re not nearly as scary as the IRS.

But seriously, what should these interviewees do to secure these important positions? Please share helpful advice on ways that I can kill myself how to ace the interview in the comments.

Earlier: The DOJ Honors Program Hiring Scandal: The ‘Harvard Law Avenger’ Strikes Again?

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