Michael Chertoff

Clarence Thomas book My Grandfather's Son Above the Law blog.jpgWelcome. If you’re at home, tune in to C-SPAN, which is rebroadcasting the recent book party for Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas’s eagerly anticipated memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, is now in bookstores — and topping the bestseller charts (to the relief of his publisher, HarperCollins, which reportedly paid him a $1.5 million advance).
7:05: The party is being held at the elegant, red-brick Capitol Hill home of radio host and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams. Expected to attend: 250 guests, including six Supreme Court justices, Vice President Dick Cheney, and several U.S. senators.
Armstrong Williams is interviewed. He explains that the party has been in the works since June. An overwhelming turnout is expected; more people were turned away than allowed to attend.
7:08: Justice Thomas climbs the stairs. When he enters the kitchen — which is right at the top of the stairs, and thus (oddly) where everyone enters and exits — he’s greeted by hearty applause.
Various guests hug him. One guest gushes over his 60 Minutes appearance. CT explains that CBS News made no promises about the nature of its coverage. Interesting. Considering how flattering that segment was, and how uncritical Steve Kroft was in his questioning of Justice Thomas, one might have suspected that Brangelina-type stipulations were in place.
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Liveblogging the Clarence Thomas Book Party”

The Associated Press (via the Washington Post) reported Tuesday that the short list to replace Alberto Gonzales as AG is the following five names:

Ted Olson
George J. Terwilliger, III
Sen. Orrin Hatch
Larry D. Thompson
Paul D. Clement

Ted Olson seems like a solid, non-controversial choice. Terwilliger would definitely be the most fun name to have as AG. Senator Hatch is an interesting choice, but I’m not sure he’s interested. We took a class from Thompson in Anti-Terrorism and Criminal Procedure at UGA Law, and we liked him well enough. Clement is a logical choice I suppose as the current acting AG.
Here’s hoping that it is one of these guys, and not one of the crazy names being thrown around on Monday, like Michael Chertoff. Let’s try to go with somebody with a history of, I dunno….competence.

alberto gonzales alberto r gonzales attorney general.JPG(Not because Alberto Gonzales is looking secure in his position as Attorney General, but because everyone else — the WSJ Law Blog, the Legal Times — has used it already.)
In the past hour or so, the Justice Department released about 3,000 pages worth of documents relating to the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco. The documents were sent over to Capitol Hill, quickly and in non-chronological order (which the Dems may complain about; but hey, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth). It appears that some of these documents may relate to the specific reasons for firing the dismissed U.S. Attorneys — a belated attempt by the DOJ to explain, in more satisfying and greater detail, why exactly these eight federal prosecutors were canned.
Another interesting rumor going around: If AG Gonzales steps down, one possible replacement is Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff — former assistant U.S. Attorney General, and former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (and the only U.S. Attorney not replaced immediately by President Clinton when he cashiered almost all of the U.S. Attorneys upon taking office).
The whole situation is very fluid. Stay tuned…

Back in this comment, Sean Fitzpatrick pointed out a fun fact:

One of those “not so sexy” district court nominations [to be submitted to the lame duck Congress] is of former U.S. Representative Jim Rogan (R-CA), who served as lead prosecutor in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

This escaped our notice, but not that of Al Kamen, of the Washington Post. From In the Loop (a Beltway must-read):

[O]ne of Bush’s nominees, a former House member from California and a “manager” in the effort to impeach and remove President Bill Clinton from office, could very well be confirmed to a federal judgeship, even under a Democratic Senate next year.

James Rogan, who lost his seat in 2000 because of voter unhappiness over his impeachment efforts, was later confirmed by the Senate to head the Patent and Trademark Office. He’s now a Los Angeles lawyer.

And, oddly enough, Rogan’s got support from an unusual group of Clinton backers, including a California judicial vetting committee with members picked by liberal Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

Kamen wonders: Will Senatrix Hillary Clinton (D-NY) vote for the man who tried to get her and her husband evicted from the White House? She’s known to bear grudges (and voted repeatedly against Michael Chertoff, when he was nominated for executive and judicial branch posts, because of his involvement in the Whitewater investigation).
But then again, check out this cheery photograph of the Clintons and the Rogans, from a White House Christmas party in 1999:
James Rogan Hillary Clinton Above the Law.jpg

Hillary’s bustline is somewhat drooping in the pic. But that’s not Rogan’s fault, is it?
On Deck Again: One of Democrats’ Favorite Clinton Foes [Washington Post]

ted olson theodore b olson theodore olson.jpgThis past Saturday, October 21, Washington superlawyer Ted Olson and his fiancee, Lady Booth, were married. The wedding ceremony took place at the stunningly beautiful Meadowood resort, in Napa Valley, California.
Olson, a giant of the Supreme Court bar, served as Solicitor General — the federal government’s top lawyer before the Supreme Court — from 2001 to 2004. He’s currently a partner in the elite D.C. office of top-flight firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
Olson successfully litigated the landmark 2000 election case, Bush v. Gore, in the Supreme Court. On the losing side: renowned litigator David Boies. But presumably there were no hard feelings, since Boies showed up for the wedding festivities — along with many other legal luminaries.
Some legal celebrity sightings, from the Washington Post’s Reliable Source:

More than 300 guests attended the midafternoon ceremony on the golf course, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, former justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, legal commentators Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, NPR’s Nina Totenberg, legal names such as Robert Bork, Kenneth Starr, David Boise [sic], and Olson’s law partner Bill Kilberg. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman performed the ceremony, and Wall Street Journal Publisher Gordon Crovitz served as best man.

This is Booth’s first marriage and Olson’s fourth. The couple will honeymoon in Hawaii.

We hear through the grapevine that the wedding was, not surprisingly, “a great time. It seemed like half of Washington was there!”
Other notable guests: Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson, of the Fourth Circuit; Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, of the Ninth Circuit, and his ever-stylish wife, Maura O’Scannlain; Frank Fahrenkopf, former RNC chairman and current gaming industry superlobbyist, with his wife, Mary; current Solicitor General Paul Clement; and conservative pundit Laura Ingraham.
Despite the tremendous collective brainpower of these august guests, we hear that several of them were left scratching their impressive craniums by one wedding detail: the request on the wedding invite for “Napa Casual” attire.
These leading minds of the bench and bar can slice, dice, define and parse the most complex legal terms known to man. But throw two innocent little words at them — “Napa Casual” — and watch them panic.
If only every day could be a court day. Who doesn’t look good in black?
Update: You can check out photographs from the wedding by clicking here.
Napa Nuptials for Olson and His Lady [Washington Post]
Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General bio [USDOJ.gov]
Theodore Olson [Wikipedia]

stephen breyer in track suit.JPGLately you haven’t been sending many legal celebrity sightings our way. C’mon, guys — we know you can do better. If you harbor doubt as to who constitutes a “legal celebrity” in our book, please review this post.

Due to your delinquency, we’ll have to resort to some rather hoary sightings. Here’s the first, inspired by our recent post about legal hotshots chowing down:

As for food sightings, I hear that Leonard Leo has his own wine locker at Morton’s. One day this past summer, he was there and Miguel Estrada was in the next booth.

For those of you outside the Beltway, Leonard Leo is Grand Poobah of the Federalist Society — ringmaster of the good Senatrix’s “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Miguel Estrada — aka “the kid from Teguicalpa” — is the brilliant Latino lawyer, and former nominee to the celestial D.C. Circuit, who is often talked about as a possible SCOTUS nominee (in a Republican administration).

And what do great legal minds do to work off all those calories? Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Judge Consuelo Callahan (9th Cir.), and Judge Kathleen Cardone (W.D. Tex.) are aerobics aficionados. And all three, coincidentally, used to teach it. Justice O’Connor led the female law clerks in aerobics at the Supreme Court; Judge Callahan was an instructor at Jack La Lanne Fitness in Stockton, California; and Judge Cardone led classes at EP Fitness in El Paso, Texas.

Meanwhile, Justice David Souter, feeder judges J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.) and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), and ex-Judge Michael Chertoff (3d Cir.) enjoy running. And they’re not the only ones:

An older sighting (March), but a good one. I was driving my car in Georgetown one Sunday morning behind a jogger (blue/black long spandex pants and windbreaker). He was trotting right down the middle of the street, leaving no opportunity to pass on either side.

We followed behind him for about 2 blocks, going an infuriating 4 mph. When he hits the end of the block, he turns and starts jogging the opposite way, and now he’s heading straight in our direction. It was unmistakably Justice Stephen Breyer.

We commend Justice Breyer for his fitness regimen (which may explain why he’s one of the more svelte of the justices). But please, Your Honor — show some consideration for the motorists.

(Yeah, we know — those brick sidewalks in Georgetown can be a real bitch. But remember the words of Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”)

alice fisher alice s fisher.jpgATL extends its warmest congratulations to Alice S. Fisher, who was just confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division — one of the most important and high-ranking posts at the Department of Justice. The vote was 61-35, with 7 Democrats crossing the aisle to support her.*
The Senate sure took its sweet time in confirming Alice Fisher. Back in August 2005, the White Collar Crime Prof Blog asked: When Will the Senate Confirm Alice Fisher to Lead the Criminal Division? It noted that Fisher was nominated as Crim Div AAG back in April — of 2005, mind you — and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2005.
We’re delighted by this news, ’cause we can’t get enough of the brassy, blonde, tough-talking Fisher. In Washingtonian magazine’s July 2006 list of “40 Top Lawyers Under 40,” Fisher came in second (behind Solicitor General Paul Clement). The magazine quoted lawyers who described Fisher — a 1992 graduate of Catholic University Law School, and a protege of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff — as a “tornado” during her time at Latham & Watkins (where she was a partner before joining the Justice Department).**
Fisher is a native of Kentucky — but based on her bad-ass demeanor, you’d guess she emerged from the mean streets of Brooklyn (pre-Yuppification). We can still recall Fisher’s press conference announcing charges against disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Fisher held forth like a sheriff from the Old West, making clear to Capitol Hill criminals that she would hunt them down and bring them to justice.
During her remarks, Fisher mispronounced Abramoff’s name — maybe she said something like “uh-BRAM-off” — over and over again. This led some Beltway insiders to snicker; tout le monde knew Jack Abramoff and the proper pronunciation of his name.
But we were loving it. Why? Rumor has it that this DOJ diva knew full well how to pronounce “Abramoff,” but mangled it on purpose — to send him a message. That message: “Congressmen have been kissing your ass for years. Everywhere you go in this town, people treat you like royalty. But to me, Mr. uh-BRAM-off, you’re just another common criminal — and I’m going to treat you like one. Bite me!”
* The seven Democrats who supported Fisher were Evan Bayh, Byron Dorgan, Russell Feingold, Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson, Mark Pryor, Kenneth Salazar. One Republican, Norm Coleman, did not vote.
** Michael Chertoff has a long and distinguished list of high-powered proteges. See here.
Gonzales Statement on Confirmation of Alice S. Fisher as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division [DOJ press release]
President Pleased by Senate Confirmation of Alice S. Fisher [WhiteHouse.gov]
When Will the Senate Confirm Alice Fisher to Lead the Criminal Division? [White Collar Crime Prof Blog]
Alice S. Fisher [National Law Journal]