Department of Justice

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgSome of you disagree, but we consider the Justice Department’s Shanetta Y. Cutlar to be a great diva. Based on the term’s origin in the world of opera, we define a “diva” as a woman of tremendous talent, whose ability is matched only by her difficult temperament.
By this standard, Shanetta Cutlar qualifies. In terms of talent, SYC has risen to a position of great power and prestige within the DOJ. She has been highly successful and effective in that post, efficiently moving a huge caseload, and advancing the federal government’s civil rights agenda.
As for her temperament — well, we don’t need to remind you about that. We’ve filled many pages with tales of how SYC runs the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (“SPL”). These stories have come from former employees, both lawyers and staff members, who have worked under Ms. Cutlar.
The more we post about Shanetta Cutlar, the more tips flow in from disgruntled ex-employees. One recent email provided a lengthy enumeration of SYC’s alleged foibles as a manager.
We took the substance of that list and reworked it, transforming it into SYC’s Ten Tips for Aspiring Divas — the kind of thing you might see as a sidebar in Cosmo. You can check it out after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shanetta Cutlar: Ten Tips for Aspiring Divas”

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgWe’re so excited. Our girlfriend SYC has made the big leagues!
Shanetta Y. Cutlar, the successful and high-powered lawyer who oversees the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, is the subject of an article in today’s Legal Times. We’re praised her profusely in these pages; but we’re glad that she’s finally getting her due in the mainstream media.
Some excerpts:

Ty Clevenger, 37, a former Washington Times reporter and line attorney in the section who was fired in October, has accused veteran Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar of being “abusive toward attorneys and support staff,” specifically those hired by Schlozman.

Among Clevenger’s allegations: Secretaries were ordered not to assist him with an eight-hour typing project, another attorney was publicly berated for using a paper clip rather than a binder clip on a document, and an intern was reprimanded for not greeting Cutlar while passing her in the hallway.

In his whistleblower complaint, Clevenger included a copy of a statement by the intern, Deborah Meiners, 24, to a DOJ ombudsman about the hallway incident.

“I did get the sense that this was a common occurrence,” says Meiners, now a third-year law student, of her treatment.

For those of you who have been wondering if Shanetta Cutlar is aware of her newfound celebrity, the answer is probably yes — now that the Legal Times has contacted her office for comment:

Cutlar’s office referred questions to a DOJ spokeswoman, who issued a statement saying the department is looking into the allegations.

Interesting. Does anyone know what “looking into the allegations” entails?
Is the DOJ conducting a full-blown internal investigation of SPL? Or is it just AAG Wan Kim getting on the phone to Shanetta and saying, “This is all silliness that I don’t need to pay attention to, right?”
We hope the latter. As we’ve previously pointed out, Shanetta Cutlar is just doing her job — and exceptionally well, at that. We hope that a bunch of whiners and crybabies don’t interfere with SYC’s longstanding efforts to vindicate federal civil rights laws on behalf of the disabled, prisoners, and other groups who can’t stand up for themselves.
To Shanetta Cutlar: Congratulations on your shout-out in the Legal Times!
Whistleblower Complaint Filed Against DOJ Civil Rights Division [Legal Times]

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgShanetta Y. Cutlar, a high-ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice, oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL) of the Civil Rights Division. As chief of the SPL, Cutlar is a steward(ess) of our nation’s civil rights laws.
And, of course, Cutlar is a great diva — which is why we adore her so much.*
Those who get to see a great diva up close, or to work with one, are truly blessed. So what if divas are difficult? That’s why we call them divas.
It should come as no surprise, then, that working for Shanetta Cutlar comes with a few occupational hazards. From a former employee at SPL:

I loved my position, duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, in time I become a victim of Shanetta’s vicious, often brutal attacks, of constant, uncontrolled rage.

I tried to tolerate and persevere. But eventually the stress began to take a physical toll on me. Down to my last few months or so with the Department, I suffered a bout of diarrhea, each and every morning, before going to work.

My nerves were wrecked. I soon realized I had to seek employment elsewhere outside of the Department.

So I left DOJ and Shanetta. Life is good again.

Color us incredulous. You sacrificed the opportunity to work under an amazing lawyer and leader because, well, you had a touch of the runs?
You need to toughen up. Your “problem” wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been solved with a family-sized bottle of Kaopectate. And a lifetime supply of Depends.
* Sorry, Shalini. We will not apologize for having a weakness for divas. We have loved divas for our entire life, ever since we popped out of one’s womb.
For those of you who care (all six of you), we defend our fixation on divas after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Public Service Announcement: If You’re Joining SPL, Stock Up on Adult Diapers”

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpg[Ed. note: It seems to be pure luck as to why we've been allowed to access this post through Movable Type, even though we can't access other ones or create new posts. So please refrain from asking us why we're publishing this rather than more salary coverage. Thanks.]
For those of you who have no interest in Biglaw pay raises, here’s a bit of counterprogramming about Shanetta Cutlar.
In case you’re not familiar with her, Shanetta Y. Cutlar is the Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice. She’s a high-ranking DOJ official, and she’s a colorful boss. Click here for a summary of her managerial quirks.
Ever since we started writing about her, lawyers who used to work under her have been emerging from the woodwork. They’ve been sending us a steady stream of stories about their time working for “SYC.” Here’s the latest, concerning a Shanetta Cutlar institution called “Docket Review”:

Has anyone told you yet about “Docket Review” — or rather, the Spanish Inquisition, which was probably less painless? Dear God, thinking back on it makes me cringe.

When you first arrive in the office, everyone warns you about it. Never, EVER miss Docket Review; be AT YOUR DESK when summoned for your meeting, or face the wrath of Shanetta; and NEVER tell her you don’t know the answer to a question. It’s nothing short of terrorizing.

Docket Review happens four times a year. During this time period, everyone is stressed out, and nobody gets any work done. In short, the entire Section is in an uproar — for days.

The process begins when an email goes around about DR scheduling. This immediately triggers a stampede of people going to the staff assistant’s office to sign up — it’s insane.

When signing up for Docket Review, there’s an elaborate strategy involved. Some people like to get it over with as soon as possible, so they sign up for the very first slot. The main concern is not to go immediately after certain people that you know will have a bad one, placing SYC in a foul mood. Another dreaded spot is the time slot right before lunch.

In advance of your Docket Review meeting, you have to write up a memo summarizing the status of your cases. This stupid memo must comply, to the letter, with certain SYC specifications. It must be uniform and perfect, down to the spacing and formatting, and completely free of typos — as if you were filing it in Court.

At the appointed hour, you are summoned to SYC’s conference room. This is, by the way, “her” conference room. No one else can ever use it, even if she’s not using it herself or even if she’s out of town.

When you enter the SYC conference room, Shanetta is seated at the far end. Her deputies are lined up on both sides of the table, and you’re on the other end. Surprisingly, there’s no spotlight, but you feel like one is glaring down on you anyway.

During the meeting, the deputies are COMPLETELY SILENT. They’re in the room, but they’re not permitted to talk. It’s just you and Shanetta.

Docket Review is a total game of “Gotcha.” SYC asks you a question she already knows the answer to, listens to your response, twists your words, and then somehow turns it all around on you — so you look like an incompetent fool.

Here I must begrudgingly give her credit. Making you look like you know absolutely nothing about your own cases, even though you’ve been toiling away on them for months, is a peculiar kind of art form. And Shanetta is a master of it.

Rarely does a Docket Review go well. As a matter of fact, going well is the exception, certainly not the rule. Some reviews have ended in screaming matches that carry on down the hall. After several confrontations with one particular attorney, he was quickly moved by the front office to a different section, out of open season.

Another attorney, who came up with the brilliant idea of telling Shanetta he was leaving the Section during his Docket Review, was escorted out of his office by the FBI a few days later.

(Admittedly, there may have been some cause for that. He had told Shanetta that he wished the Section was like “a cartoon world,” in which he could toss a bowling-ball shaped bomb into her office….)

Why do we suspect that he’s not the only person who has harbored that particular fantasy?
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgWe like to keep things light around here. As far as we’re concerned, pretty much everything is entertainment. And if it’s not, then we’re not interested in covering it.
This is the spirit in which we’ve been writing about Shanetta Cutlar, the amusingly idiosyncratic chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL). But we’re getting concerned that the story might take a more serious turn.
Here are two things we’ve heard lately:

1. The mainstream media, in the form of the Legal Times, is sniffing around the story. They may be interested in covering it.

2. Staffers from the House Judiciary Committee have contacted Ty Clevenger, the former DOJ lawyer who initially blew the whistle on La Shanetta. They may be conducting further investigation into goings-on over at SPL.

Covering the shenanigans of Shanetta has been great fun. We sincerely hope that the MSM and the House Judiciary Committee don’t hijack this story and turn it into some sober expose about DOJ abuses of power. Yawn.
We steer the discussion back in the direction of frivolity and fun, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shanetta Cutlar: All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses Her Job?”

Shanetta Cutlar Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgWe’ve been DYING for a photograph of Shanetta Cutlar, the Bitch Goddess Chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, whom we have written about extensively in these pages. So we were absolutely delighted to receive the photograph at right, which one of you dug up for us on an archived DOJ web page.
As you can see, Shanetta Cutlar is attractive and stylish. We love the combination of the pearl necklace and the pearl-gray pinstripe suit (with hints of purple in the sleeve). Her smooth mocha skin and glossy red lips couldn’t be more alluring. Her hair is fabulous; it looks professionally styled.
Just like Paris Hilton, another one of our favorite women on planet Earth, Shanetta Cutlar takes a great still photograph. We’re reminded of what cosmetics heir and art collector Ronald Lauder recently said, to the New Yorker, about socialite Adele Bloch-Bauer, whose portrait was painted by Gustav Klimt (a portrait Lauder recently bought for $135 million):

“She had a salon, she had a personality, and you can feel that personality. Unlike The Kiss, this is a painting that is alive.”

The same can be said of Shanetta Cutlar. Love her or hate her, the woman has personality. Unlike so many of those “DOJ Official In Front Of A Flag” photos, which are generic and interchangeable, Shanetta’s photo portrait is alive. You can practically hear her yelling at a line attorney for including extra spaces in a document, or upbraiding a summer intern for failing to say hello.
For those of you who are as obsessed with “SYC” as we are, we reprint the text that accompanied this Shanetta-licious image, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Hail To Your Chief: Shanetta Y. Cutlar!”

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgAmidst all of the hoopla over associate pay raises and Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, some of you have requested updates about Shanetta Y. Cutlar. We’re happy to report that we have some new material for you.
(For those of you who are new to ATL, Shanetta Cutlar is the deliciously imperious, ruler-wielding diva who heads the Special Litigation Section, in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. To get a sense of Shanetta Cutlar, in case you haven’t read our prior coverage of her, see here, here, or here.)
We hope that Shanetta Cutlar has been pleased by our coverage of her — ’cause if she’s not, she might put a curse on us. Here’s the latest tip about her:

Those who worship together, work together. Principal Deputy Tammie Gregg, who was promoted by Shanetta, as well as the Supervisor of the Investigators, whom Shanetta refers to as her “spiritual advisor,” all attend the same Church. Both were promoted over others more experienced than they, and obviously for their personal connection to Shanetta.

Shanetta is very superstitious. She had her office “excised” of evil spirits and ill will toward her, as evidenced by the cross etched faintly, in some sort of oil, on the upper right hand corner of her door. Most recently, an escapee [from the Section] said she told them that she was “gathering her protections.”

“Gathering her protections”? Boy are we f***ed.
(But not as much as Ty Clevenger, the whistleblower who first brought Shanetta Cutlar to the public eye. We hear that Shanetta has a voodoo doll of him in her desk drawer, which she abuses regularly with a staple gun.)
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

Aaron Charney headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL.JPG* Last Tuesday, a civil action captioned Aaron Brett Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP was filed in New York Supreme Court — and the world of Biglaw has never been the same ever since. Click here to access the complete archives of our Aaron Charney coverage.
* Of course, Sullivan & Cromwell partners aren’t the only bosses who are jerks challenging (allegedly).
* Don’t forget the Divine Miss C, Shanetta Cutlar, whose delicious reign continues over at the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section.
Compared to Aaron Charney and Shanetta Cutlar, other topics pale by comparison. But here are other highlights from the past week in legal news:
* Charles “Cully” Stimson apologizes for ranking on Gitmo lawyers.
* In New Orleans, trials get rescheduled for football.
* Barry Ostrager of Simpson Thacher, the renowned business litigator, has poor bathroom manners (or aim).
* The justices of the Michigan Supreme Court just can’t stop squabbling.
* Now we know the real reason — or rather, the 25 million reasons — that the Dewey Ballantine / Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe merger was scuttled.
* Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell, who also serves as the First Lady of Pennsylvania, sings a duet with Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t know whether to be delighted or frightened.

what a jerk rudeness middle finger obscene gesture.jpgIn light of our non-stop coverage of (1) Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell and (2) the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar, we found the timing of this New York Times article — “Help, I’m Surrounded By Jerks” — to be rather uncanny. Not surprisingly, it’s currently the “Most E-mailed Article” on the NYT website.
Law schools figure prominently in the growing field of “jerk research”:

Next month the Career and Professional Development Center at Duke Law School will for the first time offer a workshop called Dealing With Conflict and Difficult People. In September the negotiation program in Harvard Law School’s executive education series will present a seminar called Dealing With Difficult People and Difficult Situations.

Who says law schools don’t prepare their students for the “real world”?
Of course, most law schools don’t need to offer “workshops” for dealing with pricks. Students learn these lessons through practice — by dealing with professors.
Disclaimer: Please do not interpret this post as our taking sides in either Charney v. S&C or Shanettagate. Consider this provocative quote from the article (emphases added): “[S]ome scholars say, the problem is not the difficult people themselves. IT IS YOU.”
Furthermore, reasonable minds can differ over who is the “jerk” in a particular situation. The article mentions “[t]he explosive boss” as one example of a jerk, but it also cites “the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper” as jerkly archetypes. So the S&C partners might argue that Aaron Charney is a “jerk,” or Shanetta Cutlar might label Ty Clevenger as a “jerk.”
Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks [New York Times]

Shanetta Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar Shanetta Y Cutlar oprah winfrey queen latifah.JPGAfter we posted our open letter to Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the DOJ’s Special Litigation Section, an ex-minion of hers contacted us with an email address for her. We sent a message to that address — and unlike our past messages, it didn’t bounce back. So presumably our “open letter” has reached Shanetta’s inbox (assuming it didn’t get caught in her spam filter).
(A commenter also posted an address for Shanetta. But a message we sent to that account bounced back.)
You’ll recall that in our open letter, we asked Shanetta Cutlar for a photo of herself. Receiving one would make us unspeakably happy. But we realize it’s unlikely that she will comply with our request (even though we’re told that, at one point in time, the DOJ website featured a photo of her, as part of a diversity-touting publicity effort).
To get a better idea of what Shanetta Cutlar looks like, we asked some of our tipsters to describe her. We asked: “If a movie or TV show were to be produced, based on the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar, who should be cast to play Shanetta?
We received two responses. Here’s the first:

Well, you’ve got a large African-American woman with what appears to me like (emphasis on anti-libel weasel words) a nasty little personality disorder. So I’m going to say Queen Latifah, but the character would be more like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.*

And here’s the second response (which we enjoyed even more):

[F]or your mental picture, think Oprah Winfrey (but with long, flowing hair). I can’t even watch Oprah’s show anymore because it sends shivers up my spine. It leaves me with a pit in my stomach, by bringing back memories of working there. I feel like I have post-traumatic stress disorder from working for her.

You can no longer watch “Oprah”? Add that to the damages claim in your lawsuit against Shanetta.
* Fatal Attraction, by the way, is one of our favorite movies. And whenever we watch it, we root for Alex Forrest (Glenn Close).
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

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