Litigatrix

department of justice 2 civil rights division special litigation section.jpgOr MySpace. Or Facebook. So we can only speculate as to what her “Hobbies and Interests” are — in addition to terrorizing summer interns, rifling through employees’ desks, and vigorously enforcing the use of binder clips over paper clips (allegedly).
But Shanetta Cutlar’s erstwhile nemesis in the DOJ’s Special Litigation Section, Ty Clevenger, does have a bare-bones Friendster profile. It’s not terribly exciting — we learn that he’s 37, and from Texas — but here it is, for what it’s worth:
Ty Clevenger Friendster.JPG
One of you wondered what Ty is up to these days, since Cutlar forced him out of the Section. Clevenger informs us:

“I’m moving back to Texas and opening my own practice. Mostly civil, including civil rights, and maybe a little appellate and criminal. I figured if I was going to work for a jerk, it might as well be me.”

It takes guts to hang up your own shingle and start a solo practice. We admire the young lawyers who are brave enough to do it. So even though our heart will always belong to Shanetta Y. Cutlar, we wish Ty Clevenger the best of luck with his new venture.
P.S. We have invited Shanetta Cutlar to join Friendster:
Shanetta Cutlar Friendster invite.JPG
If she sets up a profile, you’ll be the first to know about it.
Ty Clevenger [Friendster]
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)

Carol Lam Carol C Lam Southern District of California San Diego Yale College Stanford Law School.JPGIt turns out that Eumi Choi may not be the most controversial Asian-American female in a U.S. Attorney’s Office. From the San Diego Union-Tribune (via TPM):

The Bush administration has quietly asked San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, best known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, to resign her post, a law enforcement official said.

Lam, a Bush appointee who took the helm in 2002, was targeted because of job performance issues – in particular that she failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority, said the official, who declined to be identified because Lam has yet to step down.

But there may be some personality issues here too:

Lam has had high-profile successes during her tenure, such as the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery case – but she alienated herself from bosses at the Justice Department because she is outspoken and independent, said local lawyers familiar with her policies.

If true, this is troubling. The DOJ needs more, not fewer, outspoken minority women. And if the powers-that-be can put up with Eumi Choi and Shanetta Cutlar, surely they can stomach Carol Lam.
Two good quotes re: Lam’s being canned for not stressing immigration offenses enough. First, from Michael Attanasio, a criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor:

“This office has clearly made a priority of investigating and prosecuting white collar offenses and has had occasional success doing so. One would think that would be valued by any administration, even if it meant fewer resources were devoted to routine and repetitive border crimes.”

“Routine and repetitive border crimes” — nice. (Although modifying the reference to “success” with “occasional” was kinda catty.)
And from Professor Mario Conte, former chief of Federal Defenders of San Diego Inc.:

“What do they want her to do, lock up Mexico?”

No, not necessary. But if she could put up a big wall, that might be nice.
Lam Is Asked To Step Down [San Diego Union-Tribune via Talking Points Memo]
Carol Lam bio [U.S. Attorney's Office (S.D. Cal.)]
Carol C. Lam bio [Students & Leaders]

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgShanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is a world-class diva. We have described Shanetta’s shenangians here and here.
We worship imperious women like Shanetta Cutlar. But some of you are less warmly disposed towards her. Since we’ve started posting about her, we’ve received some interesting emails and comments from readers — including current and former colleagues of Cutlar. See, e.g., these comments.
The list of people who have had some workplace exposure to Shanetta Cutlar grows longer and longer by the week. This is because the lawyers who work under her keep on leaving. The Special Litigation Section has more turnovers than a pastry shop.
Here are some things we’ve heard from tipsters (unconfirmed; if you see errors or have additions, please email us):

1. Morale is perilously low within the Special Litigation Section, and many attorneys desperately want out.

2. Last month, four attorneys left the Section — including one who was there for less than three months. Two of the others had been there for a little over a year.

3. “Another attorney currently in SPL told the DOJ that she will leave [the Department] if she is not transferred out. She has been there for less than six months.”

Goodness gracious. We agree with commenter Who Are These Babies: All of you Shanetta-haters need to just “[s]uck it up.” If you ever leave the DOJ for a law firm, you will have to put up with Biglaw partners who are ten times worse than Shanetta.
SPL minions, heed the words of Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The next time you pass her in the hallway, say a warm “hello” to Shanetta Cutlar — and thank her for toughening you up.
Earlier: Prior coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar (scroll down)


Well knock us down with a feather redweld! The Justice Department’s Shanetta Cutlar, yesterday’s DOJ Diva of the Day, takes the prize for a second day in a row. Diva-licious!
In order to be a true DOJ Diva, you need to pick on “the little people.” If you pick on people your own size, that’s nothing — just standard office politics. But if people far below you on the “org chart” wet themselves when you enter the room, then you know you’re doing something right.
By this standard, Shanetta Cutlar excels. She instills fear in the most humble of God’s creatures: summer interns.
In the summer of 2006, Deborah Meiners, a student at the University of Wisconsin Law School, interned in Cutlar’s fiefdom — the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division. And Little Debbie had some frightening run-ins with La Shanetta:
Shanetta Cutlar summer intern Deborah Meiners 1A.JPG
It gets better. Check out the rest of this poor intern’s tale, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva of the Day (again): Shanetta Y. Cutlar!!!”

Judith Vladeck Judith P Vladeck lawyer attorney.jpgJudith Vladeck, a top labor lawyer and advocate for women’s rights, passed away earlier this week. She was 83 and a resident of Manhattan.
From the New York Times obituary:

Proud of her courtroom contentiousness, Ms. Vladeck brought a combination of showmanship and detailed analysis of salary histories and job performance to her cases. She took on potent opponents like major Wall Street investment firms, the Union Carbide Corporation and the City University of New York — and usually won, or settled for millions.

A chain-smoker known for working 11-hour days well into her 70s, Ms. Vladeck was a partner in Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, the Manhattan law firm that her husband, Stephen, helped start in 1948 and she joined in 1957.

Judith Vladeck was a colorful character. Check out these excerpts from her obituary at the WSJ Law Blog.
She is survived by several highly accomplished descendants. One of her sons is Dr. Bruce Vladeck, interim president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (and owner of a nice Manhattan apartment). Another son, David Vladeck, is a law professor at Georgetown. Daughter Anne Vladeck, a partner in the Vladeck law firm, has been recognized as one of the best labor lawyers in New York.
Judith Vladeck is also survived by five grandchildren. One of them is a fellow legal blogger: Professor Stephen I. Vladeck, of the University of Miami School of Law, who blogs at PrawfsBlawg.
ATL sends its sympathies and condolences to Professor Stephen Vladeck and the entire Vladeck family.
P.S. Interestingly enough, Steve Vladeck clerked for She Who Must Not Be Named. This is an example of a great fit between judge and law clerk. Just like his high-powered grandmother, Steve Vladeck’s former boss was a leading labor litigatrix, who argued several cases in the Supreme Court before being appointed to the Ninth Circuit.
Judith Vladeck, 83, Who Fought for Women’s Rights, Dies [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]

Shanetta Cutlar heads the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. After we named her our DOJ Diva of the Day, a number of you asked for more information about her.
Who is Shanetta Cutlar? How long has she been at the Civil Rights Division? Where did she go to law school? And what’s the origin of her distinctive first name?
We did a little research. Accessing PDF files can be a pain — they take forever to launch, they slow down your machine, etc. — but we’ll do anything for our readers. So we opened up this PDF bio:

Shanetta Y. Cutlar is the Chief of the Special Litigation Section, U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Cutlar has worked in the Civil Rights Division since 1993. She served for over 2 years as a Special Counsel prior to becoming Chief. As Special Counsel, Mr. Cutlar led the team of attorneys and professionals handling the investigations of the Cincinnati, Detroit and Prince George’s police departments.

In March 2003, Ms. Cutlar was appointed to the Chief position where she is responsible for supervising and overseeing the work of Section, involving health care facilities, prisons and jails, juvenile detention facilities and police misconduct. She is the first African-American woman to serve as a chief in 25 years, and the second in the history of the Civil Rights Division.

Ms. Cutlar is a graduate of California State University, Hayward and University of California at Los Angeles, Law School. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Ah, Shanetta’s a sorority girl. No wonder she’s so good at (allegedly) cultivating “an atmosphere of fear and paranoia.” Those sorority girls are VICIOUS.
(A Google image search for Shanetta Cutlar comes up empty. But if you have pictures of Ms. Cutlar, or know where on the internet we can find some, please contact us.)
Shanetta Y. Cutlar bio (PDF) [U.S. Department of Justice]
Earlier: DOJ Diva of the Day: Shanetta Y. Cutlar

Shanetta Cutlar Above the Law Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section Above the Law.jpgThe Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department — one of the DOJ’s most important arms, charged with enforcing our nation’s anti-discrimination laws — has been experiencing some upheaval over the past few years. Several articles in the Washington Post have examined some of the conflicts within the division. See, e.g., here, here, and here.
We’ve learned that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee may be taking a closer look at what’s going on over at the Civil Rights Division. And when they do, some of their attention may focus on the Special Litigation Section, headed by Shanetta Y. Cutlar.
Here’s an explanation of the Section’s mission, from its website:

[The Section is] charged with enforcing federal civil rights statutes in four major areas: Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons, Conduct of Law Enforcement Agencies, Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and places of Religious Worship, and Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons. The Section undertakes investigations and litigation through the United States and its territories.

The Section Chief is Shanetta Cutlar, an award-winning litigatrix. And even though some attorneys and staff members have alleged that she’s “abusive” — what a subjective word! — Cutlar is a woman after our own heart. There’s nothing we love more than a high-powered female who takes charge of a situation and demands respect from her subordinates. We adore women in leadership roles who follow the teaching of Machiavelli: “[I]t is far safer to be feared than loved.”
A former attorney in the Special Litigation Section, Ty Clevenger — a Stanford Law grad and former law clerk to the highly esteemed Judge Morris Arnold (8th Cir.) — had some issues with Cutlar and how she ran the Section. Last fall, Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty. Clevenger alleged that Cutlar — whom he described as “extremely intelligent” and “very charming,” but also “a Jekyll and Hyde personality” — created an “atmosphere of fear and paranoia” within the Section.
On October 4, 2006, Ty Clevenger sent his letter to McNulty. Clevenger’s office was searched overnight, and he was fired the next day. He is in the process of filing a whistleblower complaint.
Here’s the first page of Clevenger’s letter to the DAG:
Shanetta Cutlar Paul McNulty 1.jpg
There’s more. Juicy details about La Shanetta’s alleged behavior are described in the rest of Ty Clevenger’s letter. The letter has been distributed to all the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee (with supporting documentation).
We reprint the entire Clevenger letter, which a source helpfully leaked provided to us, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva of the Day: Shanetta Y. Cutlar”

Fred Fielding Fred F Fielding White House Counsel Wiley Rein & Fielding Above the Law.jpgWe previously wrote about President Bush’s selection of Fred Fielding as his new White House counsel. Our coverage was based on a pre-announcement scoop by Time, not an actual announcement from the White House.
Just to close the loop on this, the rumor was correct: Fielding’s selection is now official. Here’s the (predictably bland) White House press release.
From the New York Times:

Mr. Fielding’s agreement to take the job surprised some of his closest friends. The friends said last week, when his name surfaced as a contender for the position, that they would be surprised if he would give up a successful corporate practice for another stint of what promises to be heavy partisan battle at age 67.

Mr. Fielding was deputy counsel to President Richard M. Nixon under John W. Dean III and was White House counsel for the first five years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Further discussion, plus speculation about the next Deputy White House Counsel, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Tis Official: Fred Fielding Is In the House”

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Eumi Choi Eumi Choi Above the Law.jpgWe have been begging you for dirty laundry to air about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco (Northern District of California). From what we hear, the high-profile office is in a state of turmoil. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi Choi has been trying to quell a line-assistant rebellion that has been described as “the best-coordinated insurgency outside of Iraq.”
We don’t care whether you’re part of the pro-Eumi Choi or anti-Eumi Choi faction. We’re not taking sides here. We just want the inside scoop on the internal warfare, plotting and backstabbing going on over there right now. It’s for entertainment purposes only (because few things are more entertaining than workplace drama).
Thus far, you’ve been holding out on us. That’s okay; we have other sources. Like judges’ chambers:

I worked for a judge in the Northern District of California, where [U.S. Attorney] Kevin Ryan’s main office is. Although I haven’t had any personal contact with the USA [himself], I remember the AUSAs and their law externs who would appear before my judge were particularly unruly, talkative and disrespectful in the court.

A number of times, my judge would be trying to talk in court over the hum of their own personal discussions. When it got out of hand, he would stop, glare at them over his glasses, and it would be about a minute before they realized that the judge wanted them to shut up.

Other times, the judge would have to say, “Counsel!” Then the oblivious AUSAs would look up like contrite 5th graders. They also argued a lot amongst themselves in the hallways and, indeed, acted very much like children.

So it’s not just “line AUSAs vs. the front office”; the line assistants can’t even get along with each other. Not good.
We remain interested in goings-on over at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the N.D. Cal. Please email us with any information you might have. Thanks.
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
What Part of “Fabulous” Do You Not Understand?

Beyonce Beyonce Beyonce Above the Law ATL.gifLawyers often draw a distinction between their “legal persona” and their “private-life persona.” A lawyer might be a tiger in the courtroom, but a pussycat in social interactions. For more examples, see here.
Writers and bloggers sometimes also exhibit a “split personality.” A writer who is belligerent in the blogosphere might be mild-mannered in person.
There appears to be a similar divide between the “performing” and “real-life” personalities of our beloved Beyonce:

Beyoncé Knowles is known for being sexy, seductive and provocative when she performs on stage, but she says that’s not really her; that’s her alter ego Sasha.

“I wouldn’t like Sasha if I met her offstage.” Beyoncé tells Parade Magazine in an article for the upcoming issue.

She said Sasha is “too aggressive, too strong, too sassy, too sexy!

An odd question that we’ll toss out for your consideration: Which celebrity best captures your lawyering personality? Or, put another way, if a movie were being made about your legal career, who should be cast as you, and why?
A strange inquiry; not sure if we’ll get any responses. Drafting merger agreements isn’t very cinematic. But if you have any thoughts on this, please share them in the comments.
(An example: One of our favorite partners — alas, we didn’t work with her as much as we would have liked — was a magnificient blonde litigatrix. She was smart, tough, and sexy, and she was the lawyerly embodiment of Heather Locklear.)
Beyoncé On Love, Depression And Reality [CBS News]
Your legal persona versus your private-life persona [ABA Journal eReport]

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