We were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But manysuchwrite-ups have already been done. And the Sampson testimony, while it had its moments, wasn’t quite as exciting as we were hoping.
So forget about the decidedly unglamorous Kyle Sampson, accurately described by Emily Bazelon as “sweaty, nervous, and soft-spoken.” Let’s talk about a more exciting and dynamic personality, the real breakout star of U.S. Attorney-gate to date:
Today brings two new, juicy profiles of Monica M. Goodling — one from the Washington Post, and one from the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They contain a lot of interesting material.
Discussion and links, after the jump.
Ty Clevenger, a former attorney in the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”) of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the one who got the ball rolling with respect to colorful anecdotes about Shanetta Cutlar, the charismatic and strong-willed chief of the Section.
Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty raising concerns about Cutlar’s leadership of SPL. Shortly thereafter, Clevenger was effectively fired by Cutlar the next day.
As for Clevenger’s letter, the DAG assigned it to Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, for a response. Earlier this month, Clevenger received the following from Wan Kim:
Letters to McDonald’s, complaining about insufficient mintiness in Shamrock Shakes,* receive responses evincing greater concern.
Now we understand why Shanetta Cutlar was comfortable enough in her position to wear a tiara to a recent meeting of DOJ section chiefs. We predict she will remain in power at SPL long after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has left the building (which may not be saying much — but you get our point).
* Yes, Shamrock Shakes are back! We enjoyed one in Miami earlier this week.
Some 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 previouslydescribed 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)
One of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys was Kevin Ryan, of the Northern District of California (San Francisco). As noted by the Legal Pad, his firing appears to be one of the less high-profile or controversial ones.
But it’s important to us, since it raises a question about our favorite federal prosecutor:
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE FABULOUS EUMI CHOI?
Eumi Choi served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney under Kevin Ryan. As noted here, a previous paean to her, Choi is “a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix.”
We’re not the only ones wondering about Choi’s fate. Again, from the Legal Pad:
What’s the deal with Eumi Choi, the No. 2 to ousted U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan?
We’re hearing that the first assistant U.S. attorney has been sent down to be a line prosecutor. Not surprising, given that a new U.S. attorney such as recently appointed interim Scott Schools usually shakes up the top, especially in an office where prosecutors have frequently complained about management.
But Choi didn’t have much to say today when asked whether her job description had changed. She said she’d talk with office spokesman Luke Macaulay about getting us an answer.
In reacting to our worshipful coverage of Shanetta Y. Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, some of you have questioned her “diva” status. It has been suggested that while Shanetta Cutlar may have the temperament of a diva, she lacks the talent or ability of one.
We disagree. And we think the latest information we’ve received about SYC establishes that when it comes to office politics and Machiavellian maneuvering, few are the equal of Shanetta Y. Cutlar.
Just like the divine Anna Wintour, Shanetta Cutlar is a shrewd and savvy woman, who knows how to “work it.” She has risen to a position of power and prominence within her profession, through a potent combination of smarts, charm, and good old-fashioned ruthlessness.
From a former employee of the Special Litigation Section:
Shanetta started with the Special Litigation Section (SPL) as a intern. Within ten years she worked her way up, managing to slide, wiggle and charm her way into the prominent position of Section Chief.
As she quickly moved up the ladder, passing one superior and mentor after another, Shanetta kept a mental tab of each and every accounting in which she felt she was wronged and treated unfairly as a line attorney. Upon taking her throne, she instantly placed her strategic plan into motion, and quickly begin to execute her hit list.
She had the current head secretary placed into the file room until she received a new, hand-selected head secretary. Rumor had it that the exiled head secretary treated Shanetta “mean.” Wow…
As we’ve discussed in these pages, certain concerns have been raised with respect to the diva-licious Shanetta Y. Cutlar’s management of the Special Litigation Section, in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. But figuring out how to deal with the Shanetta Cutlar situation is a bit tricky.
We recently learned of one possible solution:
Check out this DOJ posting, seeking a Director of the Professional Development Office in the Civil Rights Division.
When Albert Moskowitz was [eased] out as chief of the Criminal Section [of the Civil Rights Division] last year, he was put in this position. After a few weeks, he left for the Criminal Division.
I wonder if Shanetta Cutlar has been advised to apply for this opening.
This “Director of Professional Development” gig sounds quite cushy — a veritable sinecure at the DOJ. It carries with it a six-figure salary and job responsibilites that are vague and touchy-feely. It sounds like the perfect place to stick a senior official that you want to remove from her current position, but in a discreet, non-controversial, face-saving manner (i.e., without firing her or asking her to tender her resignation).
Our curiosity was piqued, so we did some follow-up. Discussion continues, after the jump.
As regular ATL readers well know, we’ve been offering wall-to-wall coverage of Shanetta Y. Cutlar. If you’re not familiar with her, Ms. Cutlar is the nightmarish awesomely overachieving diva who oversees the Special Litigation Section (SPL), part of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Shanetta Cutlar is a strong leader with a distinctive managerial style. She drives lawyers and staff away in droves sometimes rubs people the wrong way. But even if it’s lost on her underlings, we appreciate SYC’s deliciousness!
Some of you have wondered whether Chief Cutlar is aware of ATL’s coverage of her and, if so, what she thinks of it. We had heard through the grapevine that she is aware of this site and finds the attention amusing. Now we have more concrete confirmation.
At a recent meeting of the Section Chiefs of the Civil Rights Division, Shanetta Y. Cutlar whipped out a tiara. She then placed it on her head and proclaimed:
“I GUESS I’M A DIVA NOW!!!”
This is a clear reference to ATLs’ naming Cutlar our DOJ Diva of the Day — on two separateoccasions.
We draw the following conclusions from this tiara incident:
1. Shanetta Cutlar is even more fabulous than we thought. The woman owns a tiara, for chrissakes. And she brings it to meetings of high-level DOJ officials.
2. Shanetta Cutlar has a healthy, self-deprecating sense of humor. The commenters who defend her so earnestly on ATL, like “Life” — see this thread — need to relax. They should follow their idol’s lead, and just laugh it off.
3. Shanetta Cutlar is completely confident in her ability to keep her post. She’s unfazed by the attention she has received, and she’s unfraid of, say, congressional investigations of SPL. She knows she’s not going anywhere.
WE LOVE YOU SHANETTA!!!
P.S. Where did SYC get the tiara? On a totally random note, our cousin-in-law is a leading maker of wedding tiaras.
We feel like we’re running an online group therapy session. Pretty much every week, another ex-employee of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL) writes in to us, so he or she can vent their justifiable frustrations whine about the horrific challenging experience of working under super-diva Shanetta Y. Cutlar. Writing in to ATL seems to be a therapeutic experience for these people.
As we mentioned yesterday, one former SPL employee sent us a copy of their completed exit survey. We reprint it after the jump. But first, here’s an introduction to what you’re about to read:
I quit SPL largely because of Shanetta’s mismanagement of the section. I’m attaching a copy I kept of my exit survey — though some of the fields did not print in full, and I redacted some fields to remove info related to my personal identity.
Feel free to post any portions you’d like…. You might want to consider submitting a FOIA request for a full copy of this and any other exit surveys or other information related to evaluations / criticisms of Shanetta if you haven’t already done so.
In addition to the written exit survey, I had an exit interview with the front office when I left (which was over two years ago), and I stressed the issues people were having with Shanetta during that interview. So the front office has been aware of the issues with her at least since then, if not earlier.
Interesting. According to this tipster, the folks in the “front office” — i.e., the DOJ powers-that-be — have been aware of Shanetta Cutlar’s distinctive management style for quite some time.
Fortunately, they have had the wisdom to leave well enough alone — despite complaints from folks who just aren’t up to the task of enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws. May Shanetta Cutlar reign forever over the Special Litigation Section!!!
Excerpts from this disgruntled lawyer’s exit questionnaire, after the jump.
We’ll get back to Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell in a minute. Here’s a quick update on our coverage of Shanetta Cutlar, the embattled fantabulous chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section.
After our last post, we received some interesting tips:
“When SYC brought her sons into work, one walked around the floor, popping into attorneys’ offices. He would say: ‘My mom tells you what to do. My mom can fire you.’ He was about six. Now, one has to think, where does a six-year-old get something like that?”
“Another time when SYC brought her sons in, a beloved security guard was making small talk with the boys. She turned to him and said, in a condescending tone: ‘Do you think they don’t have a Daddy? They already have a father. There is no need for you to speak to them.’”
“At [a recent] staff meeting, SYC gave orders for her troops to drum up Access to Reproductive Health Clinics and Places of Religious Worship, and Religious Exercise of Institutionalized Persons (FACE & RUPLA) cases. Apparently the Section has an underwhelming amount…. Pretty thin for statutes touted as part of the section’s mandate.”
“SYC and her loyal Principal Deputy positioned their offices so each exit from the building would be covered. A favorite pastime is to monitor the comings and goings of the staff. If anyone tries to slip out early or take a long lunch, they are called on the carpet and asked for a leave slip. Who says there’s waste in government? We pay an SES [Senior Executive Service -- a highly paid federal govt. official] to watch out the window!!”
“Apparently your coverage of SYC is the talk of DOJ managers, even those in other Divisions. Front office insiders expressed “concern” over the coverage at a recent lunch. They were appalled at the behavior and the fact that it’s public.”
That last item is especially interesting — but it makes us nervous. Please, front office people: Keep your hands off our Shanetta!
In addition to the foregoing comments, we received the exit questionnaire of another former SPL employee — one who hasn’t been in touch with us before.
It contains some good stuff. We’ll be posting excerpts in the near future. Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the Special Litigation Section under Shanetta Cutlar
I am sick and tired of all of you jelly-backed spineless weasels who write in with your “anonymous” monikers. Even you cowards who used to work for Shanetta should be man or woman enough to step up to the plate and identify yourselves instead of hiding behind the anonymous tags. How gutless!
If you carefully check the records, you will find that real substantive civil rights work is going forth in the Special Litigation Section. I would say that this is quite an accomplishment considering the current administration and its horrible record on civil rights issues.
No one talks about all the in-house sniping and back-stabbing that went on when she took the job. Plenty of mud-slinging and back-biting by would-be saboteurs galore. The hope was that she would go away and guess what – she’s still standing….
[D]on’t tell me that some of the attacks were not racially motivated. Check yourselves on that. Anyway, you idiots need to get a life and leave this woman alone.
As noted, this comment was signed by “Thailour Preston.”
Now we don’t seek to unmask our commenters. We respect their anonymity; it allows them to speak freely, which is great. We’re big believers in the First Amendment around here.
But anonymity does allow people to play pranks or assume personas. For example, colorful commenter “Leona” — who posed as a super-religious, anti-gay Christian woman — owned up to being a joke (in real life, a gay guy living in Cambridge, MA). Similarly, some of you have wondered whether “Loyola 2L” is a fictional identity.
So you never know for certain who’s posting what around here. But one of you did email us to point out an interesting coincidence:
Here is a bio (PDF) for Bishop Brian Garner. Someone has already noted the close relationship between Brian Garner and SYC, one of his congregants.
Look at the name of Brian’s wife: Robin Thailour Preston. Sound familiar?
If commenter Thailour Preston is in fact Robin Thailour Preston, the wife of Shanetta Cutlar’s minister, then she may be the only SYC defender who has identified herself by her real name. Maybe the only person in the comments besides you and Ty who has used a real name?
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
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