We’ve been doing a lot of Biglaw coverage lately. But since Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is being raked over the coals as we type, in an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, let’s take a timely detour into the U.S. Department of Justice.
The DOJ isn’t looking terribly competent right now. And this latest story won’t burnish their reputation. From a tipster:
As you know, the Justice Department produced a number of documents to Congress, concerning the controversial U.S. Attorney firings. These document productions have not been huge — maybe just a few thousand pages. Nothing like what you see in major commercial litigation.
One such document production showed up on Capitol Hill, in four sets: two sets for the Senate Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans), and two sets for the House Judiciary Committee (Democrats and Republicans). The production arrived on a weekday evening.
A Republican staffer immediately started looking through the production. The staffer noticed that the produced documents didn’t have Bates stamps on them. Oops. Guess the DOJ forgot to have them stamped — a screw-up, although not a cardinal sin.
A few pages later, the staffer noticed something else, on a document with redactions on it. There was redacting tape that was STILL ON THE DOCUMENT. One could access the redacted, privileged material simply by peeling off the tape.
Holy crap. Instead of sending over Bates-stamped photocopies, the DOJ had produced its ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS to the Congress.
Nice. Apparently the Justice Department is less competent than a second-year litigation associate: they can’t do a proper document production.
It gets worse. More after the jump.
We are favorably disposed towards former Justice Department lawyer Ty Clevenger. We owe him a debt of gratitude, since he’s the person who first told us about Shanetta Cutlar — the crazy-ass colorful chief of the DOJ’s Special Litigation Section, and one of our favorite people to write about here at ATL.
Now Ty Clevenger is making waves once again — and some of you aren’t sure if it’s all that favorable. Several of you emailed us about his latest exploits. This message is representative:
Ty Clevenger is in the news again, this time making accusations about the politicization of the hiring process at the DOJ. See here and here.
Between his law school activities, Shanetta Cutlar, and this, he’s beginning to look like a little tattletale to me….
Tattletale? Or, more charitably, a person of great honesty and integrity (perhaps too much for his own good)? Or, more cynically, a shameless seeker of attention?
We don’t know Clevenger personally, so we won’t opine. But the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Many great whisteblowers throughout history have had mixed motivations — such as a desire for the truth to come to light, and a desire for personal fame and/or fortune.
But we can say this. If we ever hang out with Ty Clevenger, we sure as hell won’t jaywalk with him by our side. Or try to sneak through the express lane at the supermarket with more than 15 items. Congress probes allegations of politicized hiring [CNN] Congress considers broadening Justice Department inquiry [McClatchy] Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Ty Clevenger (scroll down)
Even those of you who are sick and tired of our Monica Goodling coverage will enjoy this little tidbit. It has been mentioned by a few commenters, and we’ve also received a bunch of emails about it.
From the National Journal (via TPMmuckraker):
Psst! Sources tell us that none other than Monica Goodling, former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was responsible for draping over the ample bosoms of the Art Deco statues in the Justice Department’s Great Hall during the reign of the prim John Ashcroft.
The coverings were removed, accompanied by a sigh from an appreciative public, in 2005…
Yesterday we received some saddening and disturbing news. A reader emailed this article to us, with the tagline: “Not very diva-like.”
(It was also recently linked to by Wonkette, in a post entitled When Whores Collide.)
A former U.S. Justice Department official and central figure in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys tearfully told a colleague two months ago her government career probably was over as the matter was about to erupt into a political storm, according to closed-door congressional testimony.
Monica Goodling, at the time an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, sobbed for 45 minutes in the office of career Justice Department official David Margolis on March 8 as she related her fears that she would have to quit, according to congressional aides briefed on Margolis’s private testimony to House and Senate investigators.
Big girls don’t cry; and neither do divas. Raging against the perfidy of one’s enemies is perfectly acceptable. But wet tears, to say nothing of 45 minutes of them, are a big no-no.
The news of Monica Goodling’s alleged crying fit is deeply troubling. There are some things we wish we had never learned. The possibility that Goodling is a sad, scared, ex-government employee, rather than a magnificent DOJ diva, ranks right up there with the true identity of Santa Claus.
It seems, by the way, that Goodling’s meeting with David Margolis was a veritable slumber party of emotional disclosure:
Margolis testified in private that he tried to console Goodling and listened to her discuss her personal life, a congressional aide said. He recalled telling a colleague that he was concerned about Goodling’s emotional state, the aide said.
Former Justice Department lawyer Monica Goodling has gotten a raw deal.
From the media. From the blogosphere. And now, from the DOJ itself. According to the Washington Post’s Andrew Cohen:
[B]ack at the ranch, the Justice Department managed to tick off former high-ranking official Monica Goodling and her attorneys by going public with allegations against her (allegations that she broke the law by giving out jobs based upon political affiliation) before notifying Team Goodling about the matter as a professional courtesy.
Given how vital Goodling’s testimony will be — she’s been given use immunity and will almost certainly testify before Congress about her role in the U.S. Attorney scandal — the Justice Department’s faux pas is as inexecusable as it is unsurprising. The Department is merely now doing to Goodling what Goodling and Company did to the fired prosecutors (and, for that matter, what the White House did to George Tenet when it was through with him).
We’re glad to see that someone else — namely, Andrew Cohen — realizes that Goodling is being dealt with unfairly. And we will not rest until the Magnificent Monica Goodling stands vindicated in the court of public opinion. How An Attorney General Should Act (and Monica’s Mad) [Bench Conference / Washington Post]
The Justice Department is investigating whether its former White House liaison used political affiliation in deciding who to hire as entry-level prosecutors in U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country, The Associated Press has learned.
Doing so is a violation of federal law.
The inquiry involving Monica Goodling, the former counsel and White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, raises new concerns that politics might have cast a shadow over the independence of trial prosecutors who enforce U.S. laws.
Justice spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed Wednesday that the department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility were investigating Goodling’s role in hiring career attorneys — an unusual responsibility for her to take.
Goodling “may have taken prohibited considerations into account during such review,” Boyd told the AP. “Whether or not the allegation is true is currently the subject of the OIG/OPR investigation.”
Two quick things:
According to the DOJ vacancies website, Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice and a two-time ATL Diva of the Day, is seeking new grist for her mill. Don’t apply for a position in her office without reading ATL’s hard-hitting coverage of this tempestuous taskmaster!
In other news, assistant U.S. attorney Thomas “Tad” DiBiase has stepped down. Readers will recall that DiBiase is “the ‘Kevin Bacon’ of high-powered D.C. legal circles,” so his resignation is making some waves. According to today’s Legal Times:
The reasons for the departure of Thomas “Tad” DiBiase, a deputy chief of the homicide division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, are still unclear. The U.S. Attorney’s Office would not talk much about it, but there is plenty of speculation and contradictory accounts among police, prosecutors and defense attorneys – some of it circulating on the Internet.
I’m sure Lat will have more to say about this, but I just wanted to report the facts. The vote was 32-6 (2/3 was needed). A separate vote to authorize a subpoena for Goodling passed by voice vote. This from AP via Yahoo!:
The votes instruct a House lawyer to seek an immunity grant from a federal court. The grant would not take effect unless Chairman John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., chooses to issue Goodling a subpoena compelling her to testify, Conyers said.
Goodling and her lawyer have invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, saying they believe Democrats have set a perjury trap for her. Conyers said Wednesday he hopes Goodling changes her mind and voluntarily tells the committee her story.
“I do not propose this step lightly,” Conyers told the panel. “If we learn something new in the course of our investigation … we can always stop the process s before the court issues an order.”
Apparently the one guy that counts was satisfied with Alberto Gonzales’ testimony before Congress last week. From the New York Times:
President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”
Speaking during a short question-and-answer session in the Oval Office, Mr. Bush said of Mr. Gonzales’s performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer.”
Really, Prez? Because what we saw in the hearings was someone who either has the memory of a raisin or is a liar on the scale of James Frey. Either way, these are not characteristics of the ideal head of the Department of Justice.
Is the President showing the same kind of support that he showed for Donald Rumsfeld right before he was sent packing? There are some important differences, of course, in the two cases. Rumsfeld’s performance was directly related to the war in Iraq, which many perceived to be the driving issue in the November election that handed Congress to the Democrats; Gonzales, on the other hand, seems to mostly have a terrible memory and bad sense of PR when it comes to handling a situation in which many feel that nothing wrong was actually done. Also, and perhaps more importantly, there is now not very much time left in the Bush Administration; there may not therefore be the political will to force him out, replace him, and then have to replace the replacement within a fairly short period of time.
Still, not getting rid of him and making the above comments are two different things. So I say again, really President Bush?
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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