Gregory Garre

SCOTUS has spoken on S&C's screw-up.

We’ve previously written about the mailroom of death at Sullivan & Cromwell. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), a mailroom mix-up at 125 Broad Street caused an Alabama death-row inmate to miss a deadline for filing an appeal. The Eleventh Circuit rejected the condemned man’s attempt to reopen his case.

Presumably feeling bad for what had happened, S&C appealed to the Supreme Court. The firm hired a leading SCOTUS advocate — former Solicitor General Gregory Garre, now a partner at Latham & Watkins — to argue that prisoner Cory Maples shouldn’t forfeit his life because of S&C’s screw-up.

This morning, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Maples v. Thomas. What did the high court have to say?

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Last year, we covered a mistake made in a death penalty case by the white-shoe firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. It was a noteworthy development because of the rarity of the occurrence — S&C doesn’t often make mistakes, at least not ones as elementary as missing a deadline — and because of the stakes involved.

Well, the stakes are getting higher: S&C is now seeking SC review. The firm wants the Supreme Court to step in and essentially forgive the firm’s error in missing the deadline to file an appeal. Adam Liptak tells the tale, in the New York Times:

Sullivan & Cromwell is a law firm with glittering offices in a dozen cities around the world, and some of its partners charge more than $1,000 an hour. The firm’s paying clients, at least, demand impeccable work.

Cory R. Maples, a death row inmate in Alabama, must have been grateful when lawyers from the firm agreed to represent him without charge. But the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal.

Please note: that last sentence originally appeared in the august pages of the Times. Despite its tabloid tone — we can imagine an announcer for Inside Edition intoning darkly, “the assistance he got may turn out to be lethal” — it did not appear first in Above the Law. [FN1]

So how did S&C put a man’s life in jeopardy? Let’s descend into the mailroom at 125 Broad Street….

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celebrity celebrities Above the Law legal tabloid legal blog.JPGWe love lists: the Forbes 400, the U.S. News college and law school rankings, or Washingtonian magazine’s list of 40 top lawyers under 40. We love lawyers — which is good, since we spend all day writing about them. And we love fabulous things.
So you can imagine our delight upon seeing this feature from The American Lawyer: The Young Litigators Fab Fifty. It’s a list of 50 top litigators from around the country, all under the age of 45, whom the magazine “expect[s] to see leading the field for years to come.”
You can check out the list here. Regular readers of ATL will recognize many of these youthful luminaries. Here are some highlights:

– Latham & Watkins partner Sean Berkowitz,* the former prosecutor who rose to fame durring the Enron case;

Paul Clement, the U.S. Solicitor General (who was very nice to us);

– Weil Gotshal partner Gregory Coleman and Texas Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz, two top Texas lawyers (and possible Fifth Circuit nominees);

– Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, the delectable DOJ diva;

Jeffrey Fisher, of Davis Wright & Tremaine, SCOTUS lefty litigator extraordinaire (he’s a Bleeding Reinhardt and former JPS clerk);

– Deputy Solicitor General Gregory Garre, Chief Justice Roberts’s former l’il buddy (from his Hogan & Hartson days);

Professor Neal Katyal of Georgetown Law, the “Paris Hilton of the Legal Elite”;

– Alabama’s Solicitor General, Kevin Newsom (amusing story about him here); and

Eugene Scalia, the Gibson Dunn partner and fabled ERISA hottie (and son of Nino).

On the whole, it’s an excellent list. We can think of a few questionable omissions (and a few dubious selections). But with something this subjective, reasonable minds will differ.
Congrats again to the Fab Fifty!
* Does anyone know if Sean Berkowitz and Bethany McLean, the Fortune reporter who covered Enron, are still an item?
The Young Litigators Fab Fifty [American Lawyer]