Department of Justice

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)

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgWith respect to our continuing coverage of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, some of you have asked to hear Shanetta Cutlar’s side of the story.
For the record, we have tried to reach out to Ms. Cutlar. Unfortunately, the various email addresses that we tried to contact her at — Shanetta.Cutlar@usdoj.gov, Shanetta.Brown.Cutlar@usdoj.gov — didn’t work. (And we are too scared of her to pick up the telephone.)
Update: One of you sent us a different email address for Shanetta Cutlar, and this address apparently worked. See here.
So, in the hope that Shanetta Cutlar or someone she knows will read this post, we’d like to publish this open letter to her:

Dear Ms. Cutlar:

Greetings. My name is David Lat, and I am the editor of Above the Law (www.abovethelaw.com), an online legal tabloid.

As someone who deeply admires strong and successful women, I am a huge fan of yours. Congratulations on your IACP Civil Rights Award!

We have previously written about you here at Above the Law. Although it is not as prestigious as the IACP award, you are a two-time winner of our “DOJ Diva of the Day” Award:

http://www.abovethelaw.com/2007/01/doj_diva_of_the_day_shanetta_y_1.php

http://www.abovethelaw.com/2007/01/doj_diva_of_the_day_again_shan.php

Additional coverage can be accessed here:

http://www.abovethelaw.com/shanetta_cutlar/

I was just writing to mention that if you would like to respond to any of our coverage, please do not hesitate to contact me. We would be happy to publish any statement you might wish to make. In addition, if you might like to send us a photograph of yourself that we could use when writing about you, we would be most grateful.

Thank you for your time and kind consideration. Hope all is well in the Special Litigation Section!

Best regards,
David

Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

department of justice 2 civil rights division special litigation section.jpgBack by popular demand: your favorite litigatrix, Shanetta Y. Cutlar, who rules over the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section with an iron fist (and a ruler).
From yet another refugee former line attorney– yes, there are tons of them — who worked under Cutlar in the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”):

Shanetta Cutlar boasts about her “open door policy.” It works great — it took me three whole days to get granted an audience with her to tell her I was leaving. Same with [another lawyer who left the Section].

SPL employees are not permitted to speak with Shanetta, other than the enthusiastic “hello” in the hallways, without an appointment. When you meet with her, she has Tammie Gregg, her Principal Deputy, present to take notes for her.

Overall, everyone — except [xxxx] — is terrified by her. She has literally ruined people’s careers, for NO GOOD REASON. One lawyer says that whenever her swipe card fails to work in the morning, the first thing that runs through her head, is, “Oh my God, did Shanetta fire me?”

There is no real practice of law in the Special Litigation Section. You are not treated like an attorney and a trusted professional, but like a naughty kindergartener, who makes typos and knows nothing. You are guilty and cannot prove yourself innocent.

The advice I was given for how to survive at SPL: “Pretend you’ve been attacked by a bear, and play dead.”

Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

ruler Shanetta Cutlar Shanetta Y Cutlar ruler.jpgDoes she use a ruler to whale on the summer interns, when they pass her in the hallway and fail to greet her?
Maybe; we wouldn’t be surprised. But we actually had something else in mind.
From yet another former member of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department, who had the pleasure of working under section chief Shanetta Cutlar:

I can remember how Shanetta used to offer the ombudsman’s services at EVERY staff meeting (don’t tell me no one was aware of the low morale)…

How Shanetta ordered the entire staff — attorneys, paralegals, investigators, staff — to take 2 hours of mandatory training in beginning word processing (mostly how to use the spell checker)…

How Shanetta announced in a staff meeting that whenever she reviews a document, she reads it with a ruler, to ensure there are no extra spaces

What a great use of her time. No wonder she never had the time to with us.

Your taxpayer dollars at work: Paying the six-figure salary of a schoolmarm with a J.D.
P.S. We’re thinking of changing the name of this site to the “Aaron Charney and Shanetta Cutlar Blog.” We could blog full-time about nothing else. And we have enough material in our inbox about these two matters to keep us going for days (with more tips constantly arriving).
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

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