House Judiciary Committee

* Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has joined Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in being one of the only justices to perform a same-sex marriage. No divas here: the wedding ceremony was held at the high court because “[t]hat’s where she was.” [BuzzFeed]

* “Proceed with caution.” David Kappos, the former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, isn’t too keen on the latest patent reform bill that’s currently before the House Judiciary Committee. If only the man still had a say. [National Law Journal]

* Dentons and McKenna Long & Aldridge have released a joint statement to ensure the public that the proposed merger is still on. Good news, everyone! The firm won’t be named McDentons. [Am Law Daily]

* Ralph Lerner, formerly of Sidley Austin, has been slapped on the wrist suspended from practice in New York for one year’s time after improperly billing car service to clients to the tune of $50,000. [Am Law Daily]

* It’s been a year since Superstorm Sandy, and lawyers are still counseling their clients on how to muddle through the mess. Volunteer some pro bono hours and help out those in need. [New York Law Journal]

* After threatening to cut faculty positions, New England Law Dean John O’Brien is taking a 25 percent pay cut. He’ll only earn $650,000. Wow. I think we’re supposed to be impressed. [Boston Business Journal]

* Career alternatives for attorneys: rescuer of nerd relics. Head to this Brooklyn book store (of course it’s in Brooklyn) if you’re desperately seeking long lost science fiction tales. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* We bet that folks in Australia would like to tell the the High Court to bugger off after overturning this ruling. Sexual injuries that occur during work-related trips don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. [Bloomberg]

We took a muscular view of presidential authority. We were offering a bottom line to a client who wanted to know what he could do and what he couldn’t do. I wasn’t running a debating society, and I wasn’t running a law school.

– Ninth Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about his authorization of aggressive interrogation methods as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

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.


Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGWe recently got to meet former White House counsel Harriet Miers, up close and personal. And it seems we’re not the only folks who will get to spend quality time with the onetime (and ill-fated) Supreme Court nominee.
This just in, from the AP:

Two congressional committees are issuing subpoenas for testimony from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor on their roles in the firings of eight federal prosecutors, according to two officials familiar with the investigation….

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont issued Taylor’s subpoena for her testimony July 11. His counterpart in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan, issued a subpoena for Miers’ testimony the next day.

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harriet Miers: Her Date With Destiny”

Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling sexy pose Above the Law blog.jpgThose of you who read our extensive liveblogging of Monica Goodling’s testimony on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee know how deeply impressed we were.
Goodling was poised, intelligent, and articulate. She showed flashes of wit, as well as consistent honesty and forthrightness. She looked like a million bucks.
On a scale of 0 to 10, we’d score Monica Goodling’s performance on Capitol Hill as a 9.3. It wasn’t a perfect 10; Rep. Artur Davis landed a few punches in the eleventh round. But Monica “Hurts So” Goodling ultimately emerged victorious from the boxing ring of the Rayburn House Office Building, with barely a glove laid on her.
We weren’t alone in our assessment. Distinguished legal commentators, including law professors like Orin Kerr and Adam Gershowitz, also raved over La Goodling’s star turn.
And this morning, via Howard Bashman, we come across more praise of Goodling, from an unlikely source. Check out this great online essay (registration required), by Eve Fairbanks of The New Republic — no bastion of conservatism.
Discussion continues after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Monica Goodling: They Like Her, They Really Like Her”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Marie Goodling Above the Law blog.jpgWe have to step away from our computer now, to go meet our running group. We are training for the New York City marathon. If you’d like to support our efforts with a tax-deductible donation to fund cancer research, which is almost as worthy a cause as the Monica Goodling Legal Defense Fund, please click here.
This means we’re going to miss the last ten minutes or so of Monica Goodling’s testimony. If anything insane happens, please note it in the comments, or email us.
Also, we’re not the only ones who were impressed by Goodling’s performance today. Distinguished legal analysts concur in our assessment that La Monica acquitted herself very well before the House Judiciary Committee.
By way of example, check out these posts at two leading law blogs:

1. Monica Goodling’s Testimony [Volokh Conspiracy (Prof. Orin Kerr)]

2. Rounding Out My Monica Goodling Obsession [PrawfsBlawg (Prof. Adam Gershowitz)]

Sorry, Monica haters. The experts have weighed in. You lose.
Have a nice day!

Monica Goodling pool picture Monica M Goodling Above the Law blog.jpgThis is a continuation of our earlier post, in which we kicked off our liveblogging of the Monica Goodling testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
11:00: Some friendly questioning from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Ranking Republican Member of the Judiciary Committee. We once sat next to him at a dinner party; he’s a very nice man.
11:05: Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) is a style nightmare. White blazer, red tank-toppy-looking blouse. Congresswoman Sanchez: this is the United States Congress, not a July 4th booze cruise.
11:07: In terms of her demeanor, Goodling is not going down the diva route. She’s very polite and helpful, interspersing her remarks with self-effacing or nervous smiles. It seems that she’s trying to be as forthcoming as possible as a witness.
Discussion resumes after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “All Hail the Queen: Monica Goodling on Capitol Hill (Part 2)”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe have a new favorite catchphrase: “You have a Monica problem.” We’ve added it to our favorite quotations, and we may put it in our email signature file, too.
As explained here, the words “You have a Monica problem” were typically uttered to Justice Department job applicants whose credentials might be deemed insufficiently conservative by Monica Goodling — the uber-powerful ex-DOJ official who played a key role in hiring.
But these days, “You have a Monica problem” might also apply to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. From Jason McClure of the Legal Times:

Now it’s all about Monica.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales emerged mostly unscathed from last week’s face-off with Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee over his role in the U.S. attorney firings….

But there’s one big wild card that’s yet to be thrown into play, and that’s Monica Goodling, Gonzales’ former White House liaison.

If you don’t share our Monica obsession, you can stop reading here. But if you find her as fascinating as we do, there’s more after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alberto Gonzales Has ‘A Monica Problem’”

Alberto Gonzales 4 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.gifWe’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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Earth to DOJ: Document Production Isn’t That Hard”

Shanetta Cutlar 2 Shanetta Y Cutlar Shanetta Brown Cutlar DOJ SPL Special Litigation Section Civil Rights Division.jpgSome of you have wondered about the drop-off in ATL coverage of our favorite DOJ diva: Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice (“SPL”). Cutlar has been previously described in these pages as “deliciously imperious” and “a great diva,” and we’ve published a number of colorful stories about her.
We haven’t written much about Shanetta Cutlar lately because we haven’t gotten many new tips about her. Perhaps she’s keeping a low profile these days?
Fortunately, more grist for the SYC mill may be on its way, courtesy of Capitol Hill. From a tipster:

House Judiciary has an oversight hearing for Civil Rights next week. Not sure what day, but I’m trying to find out. I think SPL may be discussed.

And from another source:

The “scandal” of the firing of the US Attys will be the camel’s nose — a way to have full blown congressional hearings on DOJ, especially Civil Rights.

Oooh, exciting! We do hope that the House and Senate Judiciary Committees start sniffing around the Special Litigation Section. Maybe Chuck Schumer will become our truffle pig, unearthing tasty morsels about Shanetta Cutlar and her reign over SPL.
If you have any info about the upcoming oversight hearing — or, for that matter, any updates on what Shanetta Cutlar has been up to lately — please email us. Thanks.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)