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Can you blame Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for not being more in the loop on the U.S. Attorney firings? He’s been holding down not one but TWO demanding jobs. Check out the DOJ homepage (unchanged as of this morning, despite this Friday afternoon post by Wonkette):
Alberto Gonzales FARC news release Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
If Alberto Gonzales can survive the revelation that “he” is actually a female, drug-trafficking terrorist — who may possibly be related to Wilmer Valderrama — then clearly he’s untouchable.
Meanwhile, in other Justice Department news (expect announcements later today or tomorrow):

The stylish pumps of the fabulous Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, whose last day as head of the Office of Legal Policy is today, will be filled on an acting basis by another former Kennedy clerk, Brett Gerry (OT 2000).

Congratulations to Brett Gerry on his new post. Alberto Gonzales needs all the help he can get these days.
Why Is This Man Smiling? [Wonkette]
High Ranking Member of Colombian FARC Narco-Terrorist Organization Sentenced on U.S. Drug Charges [U.S. Department of Justice]
Earlier: Why Did the Prom Queen Leave the Party?
Congratulations to Ken Wainstein (profiling Wainstein’s front office staff at NSD)

Do you know this man? His name is Peter Barta, and he’s ATL’s Lawyer of the Day Weekend. If you did what he allegedly did — see here and here (plus more links collected below) — you deserve to be honored on more than one day.
Peter Barta 1 Peter A Barta Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
We’re preparing a more detailed post on Peter Barta that we’ll publish tomorrow. Right now we are collecting information about him from people who know him personally — from high school (Stuyvesant High School in New York), law school (Georgetown Law), work (the Legal Aid Society), or any other context.
We’ve heard from a few folks, but we’re hungry for more. If you have info to share, please email us (subject line: “Peter Barta”). Thanks.
Lawyer Accused of Secretly Filming Colleagues [New York Times]
Geek took secret pix of women – officials [New York Daily News]
‘PEEPER’S’ PORN STASH HAULED OFF [New York Post]
Legal Aid Peeping Tom: “Nice,” “Has An Attitude” [Gothamist]
Jeepers, Creepers! [WSJ Law Blog]

iPhone small Apple iPhone Blackberry Crackberry Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgLots of interesting debate in the comments over the wild rumor that Skadden might raise starting salaries to $195,000 before the year’s end.
Some think it’s crazy talk. Others note that it might simply mark a return to Skadden’s prior practice of paying above-market base salaries, combined with smaller year-end bonuses (designed to bring total comp for Skadden associates up to market, depending upon other firms’ year-end bonuses).
Anyway, regardless of what you think about that gossip, here’s something that’s confirmed:

tipster: interesting tidbit
ATL: I’m all ears
tipster: skadden will reimburse associates for iphone purchases from their tech allowance
ATL: oh cool!
tipster: Pretty much makes skadden associates the coolest on the planet!

Here are more details on the Skadden technology allowance, from the firm website:

The firm provides up to $3,000 to attorneys for the purchase of technology equipment at the commencement of employment. After 2 years of service, the firm provides additional allowances for the purchase of approved technology equipment.

If you’re Skadden associate, go treat yourself to five iPhones. Then send the four you don’t use to your friends at ATL.
Update: Some caveats about Skadden and iPhones appear here.
Attorneys and Law Students: FAQs [Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom]
Earlier: More Wacky Rumor-Mongering: Skadden to $195K?
Waiting for the iPhone: An iWitness Account

* If you live in Detroit (and work for the city), shouldn’t you be happy if someone wears perfume to the office? [Overlawyered]
* Even harder to sue than the AutoAdmit defendants? [The Boy Genius Report]
* “Goldman Sachs. Hundreds will die. We are inside. You cannot stop us.” Law enforcement is investigating. [DealBreaker]
* Paging everyone who is studying for the bar. This link is a little old — but it contains a false imprisonment hypothetical! [Quad-City Times]

Legal%20Eagle%20Wedding%20Watch%20NYT%20wedding%20announcements%20Above%20the%20Law.jpgThe NYT has served up a relatively weak batch of candidates this week. That’s okay with us; we needed to be brought down to earth after the heights of last week’s eminence-fest.
Still, a warning: There’s not an Ivy League degree to be found in this column, so those of you who are nauseated by the couplings of mere Duke-UVA grads may want to avert your eyes and ponder what a cesspool the Times has become.
Here are the finalists:

1. Jill Isaacs and Kurt Perhach
2. Jennifer DeLeonardo and Adam Frey
3. Liza Burnett and Stephen Fefferman

Read more about these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 7.1.07: Lawyers, Literally”

Oona O'Connell South Beach Miami 4 small Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG[Thumbnail image. Click to enlarge. Photograph provided courtesy of Oona O'Connell.]
Today has been painfully slow, even for a Friday. Thankfully, we can always return to a subject that never fails to give a rise to our traffic: Oona O’Connell, the fabulously glamorous young lawyer who has graced the pages of Playboy.
Remember the ATL tipster who first informed us of Oona O’Connell? As you may recall, Ms. O’Connell was pretty pissed:

Oona O’Connell is my given name. It was the name my parents chose for me and I found it very hurtful to hear it described by your ignorant ‘tipster’ as coming from a ‘porn-name generator’.

After reading our recent email correspondence with Oona O’Connell, the tipster felt bad — and expressed his sentiments in an email.
Check out his message, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More on Oona O’Connell: The ‘Ignorant Tipster’ Apologizes”

In our recent post about Nina Totenberg’s poorly received graduation speech at Georgetown University Law Center, we solicited your anecdotes about her. La Nina is the Great Diva of the Supreme Court press corps, and colorful stories about her are legion.
We received a few submissions. Here’s one to get the ball rolling:

My county bar colleagues and I got sworn in to the SCOTUS bar back in [the late 1990s]. It was a real thrill. We got to meet the Clerk of Court and had a private coffee-and-danish session with Justice Ginsburg.

The thrill of it was almost ruined by seeing Nina Totenberg chewing gum in court while a couple of decisions were handed down. We’re talking chewing it like cud, Britney Spears style. I was not impressed.

And later that day, Totenberg was spotted driving down Constitution Avenue… with a baby in her lap!
We recognize, of course, that Nina Totenberg has many defenders and devoted fans — groupies, even. After all, “[d]ue of extremely high demand,” this NPR gift item — the Nina Totin’ Bag — is out of stock:
Nina Totenberg Nina Totin Bag Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
Troubling. Deeply, deeply troubling.
Have a Nina Totenberg tale to tell? Send it to us by email (subject line: “Nina Totenberg”). Thanks.
The Nina Totin’ Bag [NPR Shop]
Earlier: Worst Graduation Gift: Nina Totenberg as Your Commencement Speaker

From Vulture / NYM:

Seventies power-pop band the Rubinoos sues Avril Lavigne, claiming her cheerleader-rock song “Girlfriend” sounds like their 1978 track “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Curiously, neither Toni Basil nor the Ramones, both of whom the song gloriously does rip off, are party to the suit.

Wondering if the Rubinoos’ suit has merit? You be the judge:

In our opinion, other than the “hey hey you you” part — words that, of course, appear in 27 percent of all pop songs — we don’t think the two works sound that similar. But that’s just our opinion.
Avril Lavigne’s Music Sounds Likes Other People’s Music [Vulture / New York Magazine]
Seventies Band Sues Lavigne Over ‘Girlfriend’ [Billboard.com]
AVRIL LAVIGNE GETS SUED! SONG COMPARISON! [YouTube]

Wan Kim Wan J Kim Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgThanks for the reminder. In an earlier post, we wrote: “We’ve been hearing interesting rumors about some possible departures at the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) level.” And since today is Friday, the favored day for DOJ resignations, we figured we might as well squeeze this in before lunchtime.
Some of the rumors have already come to pass — like the departure of Eileen O’Connor, as head of the Tax Division, and the departure of Rachel Brand, as head of the Office of Legal Policy. But there’s one resignation rumor that’s still outstanding.
We hear that Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim, who oversees the Justice Department’s important (and controversial) Civil Rights Division, will step down from his post before the end of the year. He was sworn in as AAG in November 2005, so by this fall he will have held the job for two years — a long-enough stint in that position.
If Wan Kim does resign from the Civil Rights Division, he can hardly be blamed. Getting scolded on Capitol Hill isn’t much fun. Especially when most of the things you’re getting scolded about are the fault of your predecessor, former Acting AAG Bradley J. Schlozman (who is allegedly not the nicest guy in the world, according to some people).
Senators Deride Justice Reassignments [Washington Post]
Earlier: Why Did the Prom Queen Leave the Party?
Musical Chairs: Rearranging the Proverbial Deck Chairs at Main Justice?

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher Flom Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgQuite some time has passed since our last unverified rumor about large New York law firms raising associate salaries. And hey, today is Friday. So let’s indulge!
The latest grist for the rumor mill comes from a fairly reliable source. We assure you that it’s NOT from a summer associate who, while barfing his guts out in a stall after too much Cristal, overheard two partners chatting at the urinals (although such a conversation, while violative of male restroom etiquette, might actually be pretty reliable).
Anyway, here’s the gossip:

1. Skadden is planning to raise starting salaries for its associates to $195K.

2. But it won’t be doing this anytime soon — not until the end of the year.

3. Consistent with Skadden’s current policy on associate compensation, the new salary scale will apply “across the board” — i.e., to all of Skadden’s domestic offices (not just New York).

So whaddya think of this latest scuttlebutt? Is it credible, or crazy talk?
Update: Lots of divergent views in the comments. Here’s one thing that we do know. If you’re at Skadden, you can use your technology allowance to buy… an iPhone! See here.
Earlier: More Rumors: NYC to 190!

A summary of the action, courtesy of Howard Bashman (aka “Ho Bash,” as one commenter dubbed him):

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit holds that the American Civil Liberties Union and its co-plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the National Security Administration’s interception without warrants of certain telephone and email communications…

Circuit Judge Alice M. Batchelder issued the lead opinion, and Circuit Judge Julia Smith Gibbons issued an opinion concurring in the judgment. Judge Gibbons’s opinion begins, “The disposition of all of the plaintiffs’ claims depends upon the single fact that the plaintiffs have failed to provide evidence that they are personally subject to the TSP. Without this evidence, on a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs cannot establish standing for any of their claims, constitutional or statutory….”

And Circuit Judge Ronald Lee Gilman dissented. He would hold that the plaintiffs possess standing and that “the [Terrorist Surveillance Program] as originally implemented violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.”

Is this ruling a surprise? Not so much. First, most legal analysts were deeply disappointed by the handiwork of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor (E.D. Mich.), the district judge in this case.
Second, here’s a telling detail from the Sixth Circuit website:
Sixth Circuit website Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg
Does the Sixth Circuit website always feature a patriotic graphic of the United States filled with a flag pattern? Or is this just a special Fourth of July thing they haven’t gotten around to changing back yet?
ACLU v. NSA [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (PDF) via How Appealing]
Many Experts Fault Reasoning Of Judge in Surveillance Ruling [New York Times]

* NCIS investigating Marines in alleged killings of unarmed civilians. [CNN]
* Gives a new meaning to “Queen Mum.” [CNN]
* Ohio AG, others looking into credit-rating agency investigations. [Fortune]
* Developments in DC madam case. [WSJ Law Blog; The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]
* TO sues nightclub for using his name to throw party. [Dallas Morning News]

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