Patrick Fitzgerald

We had the good fortune to have Patrick Fitzgerald — the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who recently joined Skadden — speak to my company’s global compliance conference last month.

Let me prove that I’ve learned a little about this blogging business over the years: Before the jump, I’ll give you my personal thought or two about introducing prominent speakers. I’ll hold the good stuff — what Fitzgerald, the famous guy, said — until after the jump. (Watch this, Lat! They’ll be drawn through the jump like vultures to carrion!)

How do you introduce a prominent speaker? You can do it the usual way: He went to school, got a job, and did some fancy stuff, zzzzzzzz.

Or you can find something offbeat about the person. I chose to introduce Fitzgerald by saying that I was afraid that our speaker had peaked too young. He had been named one of the sexiest men alive by People magazine in 2005; how do you ever surpass that? And, also in 2005, he had received an award from Washingtonian magazine for “best performance without a script.” For most people, it’s all downhill from there.

Fortunately, our speaker managed to surpass his early achievements. And then I trotted through what must be the usual litany in a Fitzgerald introduction: Led the prosecutions of former Illinois Governors George Ryan (sentenced to five years) and Rod Blagojevich (14 years) and a bunch of others.

That was my contribution to the hour. But, you might ask, what did the famous guy have to say?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Pat Fitzgerald On Handling Prosecutors”

Patrick Fitzgerald

When renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down as U.S. Attorney in Chicago, he reacted skeptically to the suggestion that he join the dark side jump over to private practice and become a defense lawyer. When asked about this at a press conference regarding his departure, he quipped, “Can you see me as a defense attorney?”

Well, pooh-poohing something isn’t the same as rejecting it out of hand. Yesterday brought news that Pat Fitzgerald will be entering private practice after all.

So which Biglaw firm just landed this big fish?

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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”

Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat in Illinois. The U.S. Attorney for Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald, seemed to have some great evidence — tape recordings of Blagojevich engaging in apparent wheeling and dealing (and uttering a fair amount of profanity).

Today, on the fourteenth day of jury deliberations, the jury found the former governor guilty on count 24 of the indictment, making false statements to federal agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. The maximum penalty is five years of imprisonment. This makes Blagojevich a convicted felon.

But there was some better news for Blago, too….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Convicted on One Count – Making False Statements”

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been charged with corruption for — among other things — allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Blagojevich has not been hiding from the public eye. Since being charged, he has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and competed in The Celebrity Apprentice (Donald Trump fired him in the fourth episode).

The trial is set for June 3. Blagojevich’s defense team is sparring with federal prosecutors over the 500 hours of recordings from secret FBI wiretaps, and how they should be used at trial. The big-haired former governor wants jurors to sit through 200 hours of tape.

Blagojevich’s love of being on camera has not faded. He has a J.D. from Pepperdine, but must have a certification in spin and cliché from some other venerable institution. He issued a challenge to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at a press conference on Tuesday. The bombastic display drew media cameras, but didn’t do much to bring the judge around to his side. A round-up of Blagojevichisms from Tuesday’s press conference, after the jump.

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Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGYesterday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich made news with “dangerous” threats about halting all state business with Bank of America until the Republic Windows & Doors fiasco is sorted out.

Today, Blagojevich learned the old rule: “Let he who is not under investigation for ‘staggering’ corruption cast the first stone.” The Chicago Tribune (which is still allowed access to ink and paper) reports:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning….

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

Apparently, the government has a lot of the evidence against Blagojevich on tape.

An investigation years in the making, after the jump.

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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.

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Ave Maria School of Law Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Holy Lawsuit, Batman! Professors sue Ave Maria. [AveWatch.org]
* TMI indeed; spare us talk of that burning sensation. Just say you have a doctor’s appointment, and leave it at that. [Nasty, Brutish & Short]
Patrick J Fitzgerald 2 Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.JPG* Just because you’re a 46-year-old man who has never been married doesn’t mean you’re gay. Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — whom we met earlier this month, btw — is engaged. Congrats, Pat! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Milberg Weiss and the Democrats: politics makes for not-so-strange bedfellows. [Overlawyered; Overlawyered]
* Some undergraduates earn cash by selling their class notes online. How long before this trend takes hold in law schools? [Conglomerate]
* Who says Yale Law grads can’t be funny? [Wonkette]

Patrick J Fitzgerald Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.jpgYeah, we know: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales remains in office.* But his days are looking numbered. He’s received the kiss of death — a presidential expression of “confidence” — and even some Republicans are calling for his resignation.
So we have to ask:

If Alberto Gonzales steps (or gets pushed) aside, who should take his place as Attorney General?

We’re rooting for Shanetta Cutlar. But if she doesn’t get tapped, Andrew Cohen floats this interesting idea.
Right now, Patrick Fitzgerald is most well-known for his (successful) work on the Scooter Libby case. This may preclude his selection as AG, given the political hot potato that it turned into — and the embarrassment it caused for the Bush Administration.
But let’s not forget that, setting aside the Libby case, Fitzgerald has the background that one would normally seek in an Attorney General. He’s the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), one of the nation’s most prestigious prosecutor’s offices, and he has some serious additional credentials.
After graduating from one of our nation’s finest high schools (shameless plug for our alma mater), Pat Fitzgerald went on to Amherst College and Harvard Law School. Before taking over as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, he was a line prosecutor in the legendary Southern District of New York. As an AUSA in the SDNY, he worked on some major prosecutions, including the trials of Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef. He has been praised for his work as U.S. Attorney in Chicago.
Thoughts? Nominating Fitzgerald as AG might be kinda crazy, but kinda brilliant. It would change the story line big time, in a way that the White House might welcome.
(Some other random names we’ve heard as possible AG candidates: former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey; SEC Chairman Christopher Cox; and Judge Laurence H. Silberman, of the D.C. Circuit.)
* It’s a rainy Friday afternoon, not much is going on, and people aren’t paying attention to the news. If you’d like to step down, Mr. Attorney General, there are still several hours of prime resignation time available to you.
The Case for Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald [Washington Post / Bench Conference]