Department of Justice

diarmuid o'scannlain diarmuid f o'scannlain.jpgWe linked to this interesting MSNBC article, about possible replacements for outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in Morning Docket.
We’d now like to link to it again, and draw your attention to the very end of the article. Doug Kmiec, a top Justice Department official in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, is quoted as follows:

“[T]he president might be well advised to pick a senior court of appeals judge appointed by Reagan; perhaps, Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the Ninth Circuit, Kenneth Ripple of the Seventh Circuit, or Edith Jones of the Fifth.”

[Kmiec] said, “The integrity of these individuals is unquestioned; by virtue of judicial office, they have been freed of partisanship for some time, yet, by virtue of appointment, would be acceptable to the base of the President’s party.”

Judge O’Scannlain for Attorney General? What a fabulous idea!
Having clerked for Judge O’Scannlain, we’re admittedly biased. As we previously wrote:

During two decades of distiinguished service, Judge O’Scannlain has established himself as a shining star in the federal judicial firmament. We had the honor and pleasure of clerking for Judge O’Scannlain during the 1999-2000 judicial year. He was a wonderful boss to us and our co-clerks, and he continues to be a great mentor and friend to this day. (He’s also quite handsome, in a Paul Newman sort of way; see photo at right.)

But you don’t need to be a former O’Scannlain clerk to recognize the soundness of Kmiec’s reasoning. (As for the other two judges Kmiec mentions, we’re not that familiar with Judge Ripple. Judge Jones, while diva-licious, she might be a tough sell to a Senate controlled by the Democrats.)
So we hereby issue this official ATL endorsement: Judge O’Scannlain for Attorney General!
(Psst, Nixon Peabody peeps: Can you do up a theme song?)
Senate confirmation hearings promise drama [MSNBC]

Alberto Gonzales resignation steps down Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGWow, that was short. We were prepared to liveblog the Alberto Gonzales resignation announcement, but it was over before it began.
We didn’t time it, but it probably didn’t run over two minutes. Here’s what we jotted down:

AGAG seems a little choked up.

[Update: Pete Williams of NBC had the exact opposite reaction; he saw Gonzales as unemotional.]

Begins with shout-out to wife and son.

Resignation effective September 17.

“I have lived the American Dream.”

Says that his worst days as Attorney General have been better than his father’s best days.

[Well that's true. At least the DOJ has running water.]

“Thank you and God bless America.”

As Gonzales walks away from the podium, reporters call out, “Why are you leaving?” But he just keeps on walking.
Earlier: Breaking: Alberto Gonzales Has Resigned as Attorney General!

Alberto Gonzales 3 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Alberto Gonzalez Above the Law blog.jpgIn addition to a story on the Nixon Peabody song controversy — which we’ll do a full post on later, so save your comments until then — the New York Times has this big scoop:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.

Any thoughts on a successor?
Update: We liveblogged the (extremely short) press conference by Alberto Gonzales announcing his resignation. See here.
Gonzales Resigns as Attorney General [New York Times]


Wan Kim Wan J Kim Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re deep into the lazy days of August — and today is Friday. So of course there’s news of a high-profile resignation from the Department of Justice.
From the New York Times:

The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced Thursday that he was resigning, the latest in a long string of departures from the department in the midst of a furor over the leadership of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

The department said that the resignation of the official, Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, had nothing to do with the recent controversies over Mr. Gonzales’s performance, and that Mr. Kim had been planning his departure for months.

We can confirm that. Kim’s resignation, effective at the end of this month, does not come as a surprise to DOJ insiders. Recall what we wrote in these pages almost two months ago:

Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, who oversees the Justice Department’s important (and controversial) Civil Rights Division, will step down from his post before the end of the year. He was sworn in as AAG in November 2005, so by this fall he will have held the job for two years — a long-enough stint in that position.

So stick with us, kids. We bring you the legal news as — and sometimes even before — it happens.
(Another DOJ departure: Bradley J. Schlozman, who preceded Kim in heading the CRD (on an acting basis). We hear that Schlozman won’t exactly be missed, even by fellow conservatives at Main Justice.)
Civil Rights Division Head Resigning at Justice Dept. [New York Times]
Statement of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on the Resignation of Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim [U.S. Department of Justice]
Earlier: Musical Chairs: Another Rumored DOJ Departure

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgSome of you have been asking for updates on Shanetta Cutlar, the high-powered Department of Justice lawyer who has generated some colorful stories in the past. If you’re not familiar with her, click here, and browse through the archives.
We don’t have anything terribly new to report on her. We hear that she has been on her “best behavior” ever since we started writing about her.
But since this is ATL Wayback Weekend, we’re happy to pass along something from back in June, which we never got around to writing up back then. A reader drew our attention to this Washington Post Career Track live web chat:

Washington, D.C.: I am a young attorney for the federal government. I loathe my current position because of a very moody and difficult supervisor (the situation is so horrible that half of my office is currently looking for new employment). I am desperate to leave this position, I am extremely stressed because of the work environment created by this supervisor. I have applied for 11 other federal positions.

While I wait to (hopefully) hear about one of those positions, can you recommend any other possible job search options? I really want to leave this position as soon as possible and I’ve only worked for the federal government (two years since law school).

Hmm… We wonder who this person’s boss might be. Any suggestions?
Discussion continues after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What’s Up With Shanetta Cutlar?”

rtfm Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgIf so, then Uncle Sam wants you. The feds need your valuable skills — badly.
First the Department of Justice produces original documents, instead of copy sets, to Congress. And now, the AP reports on a screw-up by the FTC:

Lawyers for the FTC electronically filed documents as part of [its] court case [challenging the Whole Foods purchase of Wild Oats] yesterday afternoon. Court officials realized the redacted portions of the document could easily be read and blocked it from being downloaded from court computer servers. The Associated Press downloaded the document from the public server before it was replaced by a properly redacted version.

In the original version, the words looked redacted but were actually just electronically shaded black. The words could be searched, copied, pasted and read. The second version of the document was filed using scanned pages of the redacted documents. There is no way to remove the blacked-out portions from the final copy.

In a statement late Tuesday, Whole Foods said it was investigating the “apparent improper release by the Federal Trade Commission of confidential proprietary business information.”

So bite your tongue next time you want to dismiss document production as mindless drudgery. If the DOJ and the FTC can’t get it right, surely there must be SOME skill involved, right?
Error by FTC Reveals Whole Foods’ Trade Secrets [Associated Press]
Earlier: Earth to DOJ: Document Production Isn’t That Hard

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs you know, we recently did a series of open threads on law firms in different cities. But we realize that Biglaw isn’t the only option out there.
We’ve been reminded of that by some recent emails. From one reader:

Not so much a tip as a request: How about an open thread for non-firm work — U.S. Attorney’s offices, for example? What are the pros and cons of leaving Biglaw for a few years to go there, and how do you do it?

And from a second:

This my fizzle in light of the prestige cult that ATL harbors, but I was curious if you would ever consider a look at federal government lawyers.

Not just at the Department of Justice:

The FBI, CIA, DoD, etc, all are staffed by tons of lawyers, not to mention the JAG branches of our Armed Forces. I’m obviously biased in light of my JAG affiliation, but I always enjoy reading up on the lives of non-BigLaw attorneys.

We’re happy to accommodate these requests — and note that working for the federal government, even if less lucrative than Biglaw, can be tremendously prestigious.
Please discuss legal employment opportunities with the federal government — including U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Main Justice, the JAG corps, and agencies — in the comments. Thanks.

* When the music stopped, Craig Morford, interim U.S. attorney in Nashville, was left standing. So now Morford must fill Paul McNulty’s uncomfortable shoes as Deputy Attorney General — after several others apparently passed on the job. [Washington Post; New York Times]
* New Jersey lawyer Shalom Stone may need to be as charming as Shalom Harlow to win confirmation to the Third Circuit. [The Hill (ATL shout-out!) via How Appealing]
* Dow Jones director David Li could be in trouble with the SEC. Oh Wells. [DealBreaker]
* Go shorty. [MSNBC]

Earlier we covered Harriet Miers impending date with destiny in the form of the House Judiciary Committee. Well, it looks like Miers needed some more time to polish up on her French.
From the report from AP via the Reno Gazette-Journal on the hearing that went down sans Miers:

A House panel cleared the way Thursday for contempt proceedings against former White House counsel Harriet Miers after she obeyed President Bush and skipped a hearing on the firings of federal prosecutors.
Addressing the empty chair where Miers had been subpoenaed to testify, Rep. Linda Sanchez ruled out of order Bush’s executive privilege claim that his former advisers are immune from being summoned before Congress.

The contempt issue would go next to the full Judiciary Committee, and ultimately to the entire House.
You at least have to admire Miers for going all the way in following Bush’s order, instead of the I’m-testifying-but-not-really tapdance that Sara Taylor attempted yesterday.

* We’ll probably have more to say about this one later. For now: WOW. Tell us how you really feel, John Koppel! [Denver Post]
* What kind of tree would you be? The kind that robs banks. [AP]
* Don’t mess with the police — even if you’re an old lady charged with not watering your lawn. [KSL.com via Drudge Report]
* Laying the groundwork for the Twinkie defense? [New York Times]
* Nothing to do with the law yet, but surely that will change. Any news this baaad generates litigation. [Marin Independent Journal]
Update: With respect to the first link, in case you’d like to know more about John Koppel, check out his wedding announcement.

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