I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby

Yesterday brought some big news out of Chicago. Renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — who successfully prosecuted such figures as Governor George Ryan, Governor Rod Blagojevich, White House adviser Scooter Libby, and media mogul Conrad Black — announced that he will be stepping down as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Fitzgerald’s resignation will take effect on June 30.

I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Fitzgerald in October 2007, when he spoke at our alma mater, Regis High School (which he graduated from before going on to Amherst College and Harvard Law School). During the question-and-answer session for his talk, I alluded to his celebrity status and asked him: “What’s next for Patrick Fitzgerald?” I tossed out several possibilities, such as running for political office or working as a male model (in light of his 2005 designation by People magazine as one of the sexiest men alive).

The straight-laced, self-effacing Fitzgerald — who spent his entire talk discussing cases, saying practically nothing about himself — seemed slightly uncomfortable at having the spotlight on him in such a personal way. He diplomatically dodged my question, saying something about how he was just focused on doing the best job possible as U.S. Attorney. This was very proper of him, even if a bit boring.

My question to him, posed back in 2007, was just a hypothetical. But now it has turned actual: What is Pat Fitzgerald going to do next?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Patrick Fitzgerald Steps Down As U.S. Attorney”

libby.jpgCNN reports that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been disbarred in the District of Columbia:

The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney was convicted last year of lying to a grand jury and federal agents probing the leak of the identity of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson.

“When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory,” the District of Columbia Court of Appeals wrote in its opinion, which is posted on its Web site.

“When convictions on more than one count are involved, disbarment is mandated if any one of them involves moral turpitude,” the court added.

The D.C. Court of Appeals opinion is posted [PDF]. POTUS commuted Libby’s 30-month prison term last year. So Scooter may be disbarred, but at least he’s not behind bars.
Good editorial cartoon of “Scooter” flying off cliff while Cheney looks on, by Steve Breen of Copley News Service, available here (click on thumbnail to enlarge).
Cheney’s former chief of staff disbarred [CNN]

Alberto Gonzales 5 Alberto R Gonzales Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPart of a blogger’s job description is to shamelessly rip off stuff from the mainstream media. So we’re going to follow in the footsteps of the ABA Journal and the WSJ Law Blog, and name ATL’s first annual Lawyer of the Year. (Of course, it’s not that original an idea to begin with, insofar as it’s inspired by Time magazine’s Person of the Year.)
The WSJ crew is still accepting nominations, so we don’t know the identity of their pick. But the ABA Journal’s honoree for 2007, Alberto Gonzales, has generated some controversy. The Journal’s editor and publisher, Edward A. Adams, explained the pick to the Washington Post: “It’s about who has had the most effect in the world of lawyers this year. We’re not saying Gonzales is good or bad. We’re just saying this is the leading newsmaker in our part of the world.”
Additional discussion, plus how to submit your nomination for ATL’s Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Lawyer of the Year: Nominations, Please”

* Georgia Supreme Court expedites Genarlow Wilson hearing. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
* Libby gets supervised release to wrap up his sentencing. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Off with their food safety head. [BBC]
* Georgia judge dies after beating received during robbery two weeks ago. [Fulton County Daily Report]

Monopoly Go Directly To Jail Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFrom The BLT, shortly before 2:00 p.m.:

From Emma Schwartz, inside the courtroom:

Scooter Libby’s stable of legal thoroughbreds failed him. Moments ago Judge Reggie Walton ruled that Libby does not get bail pending appeal. It’s jail time.

Update / clarification: Libby wasn’t taken into custody today. It will take at least six to eight weeks for the Bureau of Prisons to determine where Libby will be imprisoned and to set a reporting date for him to show up to prison.
No. Bail. [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]
Judge Won’t Delay Libby Prison Term [Associated Press via Washington Post]

Reggie Walton Judge Reggie B Walton Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLast Friday, in the Scooter Libby case, Judge Reggie Walton delivered quite the benchslap. Some brief background, from Ana Marie Cox:

A group of exceedingly prominent law professors (including Alan Dershowitz and Robert Bork) filed an amicus brief to Judge Reggie Walton [on Friday], arguing that the Libby verdict could possibly be overturned on appeal because of the “close question” about the constitutionality of the special prosecutor….

I was struck (as were others) by the footnote Judge Walton appended to his agreement to have the brief submitted:

Here’s the feisty footnote:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics’ willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.

Judge Walton, feel free to call upon The Dersh for help in future cases. He’s more than happy to offer his opinion on any subject under the sun. In fact, you may quickly come to regret your “call for such assistance” from that loquacious luminary.
(But you might want to give Judge Bork a break. He’s a little preoccupied right now….)
Update: The WSJ Law Blog has more here, including the names of additional celebrity professors on the brief.
Shorter Reggie: I Will Remember Your Interest in Public Service the Next Time Someone Really Needs It [The Next Hurrah]
Libby’s Last Stand [Swampland / Time.com]
Law Blog Footnote of the Day: the Scooter Libby Trial [WSJ Law Blog]
(Gavel bang: Several email correspondents, plus a commenter.)

* Banned children’s book about Cuba, “Vamos a Cuba,” now in court. [Miami Herald]
* “Hit Movie ‘Knocked Up’ With a Lawsuit.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* Should Libby be pardoned? [LA Times via BLT]
* More pardoning analysis from NYT. [New York ]

Lewis Libby Scooter Libby I Lewis Scooter Libby Above the Law Blog.jpgThirty months? Judge Walton, that was way harsh. Paris Hilton won’t even serve thirty days.
Guess the mash notes from former Administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, or Beltway insiders like Mary Matalin and James Carville, didn’t help much.
Thoughts on the Libby sentence from Guidelines guru Doug Berman are available here and here.
Libby Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years in Prison [Associated Press]
Libby gets within-guideline sentence of 30 months [Sentencing Law and Policy]
30 Months for Scooter! [Wonkette]
Children by the Millions Sing for Scooter Libby [Wonkette]
Scooter Libby’s Sentence: 30 Months in Prison; $250,000 fine [WSJ Law Blog]

Paris Hilton small mugshot Paris Hilton mug shot pic photo photograph Above the Law blog.JPG* Yawn… [MSNBC]
* Job opportunities for the disbarred. [ABANet]
* Libby sentencing today. [CNN]
* Advice for Paris. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Polsky divorce settlement hits $184 million. [CNN]

Ted Olson Theodore Olson Theodore B Olson Above the Law blog.jpgFormer Solicitor General Ted Olson, now back at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, is one of the nation’s top appellate advocates. He’s an amazing lawyer and a distinguished public servant. And he — together with his wife, the beautiful and brilliant Lady Booth — knows how to throw a killer wedding.
But Olson does seem to have an unorthodox sense of client conflict rules. From Howard Kurtz’s media column in today’s Washington Post:

Now it can be told: Matt Cooper thought that Time magazine’s strategy in the Valerie Plame leak investigation was “insane.” He was unhappy when his lawyer wanted to simultaneously represent I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the man whose identity Cooper was risking jail to protect. And Judith Miller got on his nerves.

Cooper, who has left Time, is now Washington bureau chief for Portfolio, the glossy business magazine from Conde Nast that makes its debut today. The launch is cloaked in secrecy….

Cooper says he realized early on that he would probably lose the subpoena battle over his refusal to testify about his 2003 discussions regarding Plame with White House aides Libby and Karl Rove. But Time rejected Cooper’s plea to compromise by seeking waivers of confidentiality from the officials. “Behind the scenes I desperately wanted to make a deal that could get us out of this mess,” he writes.

Norman Pearlstine, then Time Inc.’s editor in chief, decided to hire conservative lawyer Ted Olson. But Cooper’s opinion of the former solicitor general declined when Olson asked if he could also represent Libby, which Cooper saw as a conflict since “Libby’s defense ultimately involved my word against his.” Olson quickly backed off.

Our tipster notes: “I worked as an attorney at a federal agency in Washington for several years right after law school, and was frequently astonished by the casual approach to conflicts issues many private sector attorneys had there. Olson’s is the worst proposal I have seen in many years.”
But perhaps we’re missing something. We’re sure that some of you can come up with a defense of Olson’s ability to represent both Cooper and Libby. We welcome your thoughts in the comments.
A Sorry Story, With Apology Yet to Come [Washington Post]
Earlier: Lady and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Wedding Photos That Rock

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