It has been a while since our last round-up of notable moves within the legal profession. So there’s a lot to report today:
Law Firm to… Prison?
* Former Milberg Weiss name partner Steven Schulman resigned from the firm to pursue “new ventures.” The most important of these “ventures” will surely be fighting federal charges of making illegal payments to plaintiffs in past cases.
Law Firms to In-House:
* Securities lawyer Stephen Cutler is leaving his partnership at WilmerHale to become general counsel of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the banking giant. From a tipster who works in securities law: “This is a big deal.”
Colleagues of Cutler described the JP Morgan gig to the WSJ Law Blog as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. Translation: Who wouldn’t want to make mid- instead of low-seven-figures?
* Another WilmerHale departure: J. Kevin McCarthy is taking over as top lawyer of the Cowen Group, an investment bank.
Government to Private Sector:
* Former New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah Poritz joins the Princeton office of Drinker Biddle & Reath, as of counsel. She stepped down from the New Jersey Supreme Court in October, after reaching the mandatory retirement age.
* David Nocenti, current counsel to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, will become counsel to the governor effective January 1.
* Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, the renowned constitutional scholar and SCOTUS litigator, is entering into a consulting arrangement with Akin Gump.
Akin Gump is developing a Supreme Court practice. Earlier this year, they added young SCOTUS superstar Tom Goldstein to their line-up.
* Securities-enforcement lawyer Chuck Davidow, to Paul Weiss (DC), from WilmerHale.
Another loss for WilmerHale — on top of the previously reported departure of Paul Eckert for the White House Counsel’s Office.
Why are so many partners leaving WilmerHale? A Hillary Clinton administration is still two years away.
* IP lawyer Joseph Gioconda, to DLA Piper (New York), from Kirkland & Ellis.
* Corporate lawyer Eric Lerner, to Kramer Levin, from Katten Muchin Rosenman.
* Tax lawyer Thomas Giegerich, to McDermott Will & Emery (NY), from Dewey Ballantine (about to merge with Orrick to form Dewy Orifice).
* Bryan Cave: Eleven new partners. Names here.
Due to the sheer number of links today, we’ve placed them after the jump.
- Akin Gump, Dewey Ballantine, Dewy Orifice, DLA Piper, Drinker Biddle & Reath, Eliot Spitzer, Kramer Levin, Laurence Tribe, McDermott Will & Emery, Milberg Weiss, Musical Chairs, New Jersey, State Judges, Thomas Goldstein, White House Counsel, White-Collar Crime, WilmerHale
It has been a while since our last round-up of notable moves within the legal profession. So there’s a lot to report today:
- Cars, Celebrities, Crime, Drinking, Drugs, Howard Weitzman, Nicole Richie, State Judges, State Judges Are Clowns
After driving her SUV the wrong way down a freeway,
famine victim reality TV star Nicole Richie was arrested yesterday for driving under the influence (Vicodin and pot, allegedly). Perhaps she’s gearing up for “The Simple Life: Behind Bars”?
Seriously, though, we doubt Richie will do any prison time. She’s in the capable hands of Howard L. Weitzman, a prominent criminal defense lawyer who has represented oodles of celebrities over the years (e.g., John De Lorean, Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne, and even O.J. Simpson (briefly)).
And this cloud has a silver lining. Now that she has a DUI arrest on her record, Nicole Richie is eligible for a state court judgeship.
Speaking of state judges and DUI arrests, our reader poll is now over. We asked you:
Who acted more stupidly? Judge Patrick Young, for driving under the influence, with a senior colleague as a passenger? Or Chief Judge Jan Fiss, for getting into the car with an inebriated colleague, and then trying to empty his tinnie by the side of the road?
Chief Judge Fiss won by a healthy margin: 64 percent to 36 percent. This makes sense to us. As the senior member of the panel, he really should have known better.
Nicole Richie Popped for DUI [TMZ.com]
Earlier: Judges of the Day: Patrick Young and Jan Fiss
Judges don’t have enough fun. Overly concerned with “judicial decorum,” they don’t let down their hair very often. They try to hide the reality that, beneath their robes, they’re ordinary people just like the rest of us. Perhaps they fear that this truth might undermine their legitimacy.
But a pair of Illinois state court judges may have taken things too far in the “fun” department:
A judge driving with his boss was charged with drunken driving after a wreck that sent another motorist to the hospital, and the other judge was seen by an officer pouring out a can of beer, police said.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young, 58, was handcuffed and arrested and charged with drunken driving after the Sunday crash, about 20 miles from St. Louis. He refused a sobriety test, authorities said.
Another officer, Jeffrey Sheary, reported seeing Young’s passenger, Chief Judge Jan Fiss, 64, pour out an open beer can on the road and try to hide it in his coat.
If the allegations are true, who acted more stupidly? Judge Young, for driving under the influence, with a senior colleague as a passenger? Or Chief Judge Fiss, for getting into the car with an inebriated colleague, and then trying to empty his tinnie by the side of the road?
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- 5th Circuit, 7th Circuit, Biglaw, Bonuses, Books, Frank Easterbrook, Hotties, Judicial Nominations, Lee Rosenthal, Money, Morris Arnold, NYU Law School, Politics, Richard Posner, SCOTUS, Senate Judiciary Committee, Sex, State Judges, State Judges Are Clowns, Supreme Court, Weddings, Week in Review
* It’s all about the benjamins, baby. Bonus season is upon us. And we’re standing by to broadcast every move. So please email us with any news, rumors, and leaked memos about bonuses.
* Truthful tips are especially welcome. Look for the first wave of bonus announcements in the coming week.
* And check out the most anal retention letter ever.
* In non-Biglaw developments, it was a busy week for the Supreme Court. They heard all about EPA regulatory discretion, the Federal Circuit’s recondite jurisprudence, and other fun topics.
* On tap for the SCOTUS: Ken Starr and a bizarrely fascinating case. It’s like Bill ‘n Monica, all over again. But is it sexy enough for same-day audio-cast? Probably not.
* Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the imminent Democratic takeover is already being felt at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The big white-collar shops are eagerly anticipating lots of new business.
* Speaking of elections, please cast your vote for November 2006 Couple of the Month. And if you’re an NYU Law School student, please forward us the results of voting in the 3L hottie contest.
* In federal appellate judge news, Judge Morris Arnold is recovering nicely, Judge Richard Posner is getting testy, and Judge Frank Easterbrook is now Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook.
* And over in the district court, Judge Lee Rosenthal (S.D. Tex.) is probably out of the running for a promotion to the Fifth Circuit (despite being very highly regarded).
* Finally, in state court land, some judges are getting a little big for their
britches robes. They’re mouthing off, railing against immigrants, and making spectacles of themselves. Pipe down, Your Honors, and stay out of trouble.
- Bill Mathesius, Death Penalty, James M. Brooks, Judge of the Day, Lunacy, New Jersey, Richard Posner, State Judges, State Judges Are Clowns
Today we have TWO judges of the day. Both win the prize for their honesty and fearlessness. These jurists aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and for that we salute them.
First, there’s Judge James Brooks, of “the O.C.” — Orange County, California.
An Orange County judge with a sharp tongue and a history of making insensitive comments about ethnic minorities was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance.
The commission cited [a] contempt hearing where litigant Arnold McMahon told Brooks that he didn’t attend a scheduled Oct. 15 deposition because he had gone to the hospital with chest pains.
“Gee,” Brooks responded. “I wonder what’s going to happen when we put you in jail, Mr. McMahon. Your little ticker might stop, you think?”
Come now — that’s a bit tepid. We’ve heard harsher words from federal appellate judges at oral argument. This was more compelling:
[T]he commission noted that Brooks had been privately chastised three times since 1996 for similar conduct. The commission-cited punishments include: a 1996 advisory letter for referring to Hispanic defendants as “Pedro,” and issuing a bench warrant for an Asian defendant for “ten thousand dollars or twenty thousand yen”…
Second, there’s Judge Wilbur Mathesius, a Superior Court judge in Mercer County, New Jersey.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Thursday handed Judge Wilbur Mathesius a one-month suspension without pay for making shoot-from-the hip comments that undermined the judicial system….
[Judge Mathesius allegedly] berated a jury for acquitting a defendant of illegal handgun possession. According to the complaint, Mathesius went to the jury room and said, “What the hell were you thinking?” He then told the jurors the defendant had a prior criminal record and chose to not testify because of that record; that another witness would have testified for the prosecution had he not been threatened; and that the prosecution’s principal witness was the most credible he had ever seen.
This was only one of several incidents for which Judge Mathesius was disciplined. He also made some over-the-top comments about the death penalty. When criticized for these comments before the New Jersey Supreme Court, he responded as follows:
Mathesius observ[ed] that Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner “has written on many of the same subjects,” [and Mathesius] suggested that members of the New Jersey judiciary do the same.
Judge Mathesius, we know Judge Richard Posner. We have corresponded with Richard Posner. And you, sir, are no Richard Posner.
You are a state court judge. In the trial court. In New Jersey. In a word: ICKY.
(We mean no disrespect to the Garden State, from which we hail. But the “state court” and “trial court” aspects are proper subjects of disdain.)
Vociferous Judge Is Suspended a Month Without Pay [New Jersey Law Journal]
Judge Scolded for Insensitive Remarks [NYLawyer.com]
Most judges exhibit an excess of caution in their out-of-court comments. While understandable, given judicial ethics and decorum, it’s disappointing (at least to those of us who write about the judiciary). When judges do speak out, the results can be both informative and entertaining.
Consider the literary exploits of Judge John H. Wilson, a criminal court judge in Brooklyn, New York. From the New York Daily News:
Criminal Court Judge John Wilson’s “Hot House Flowers” warns of “effects of unregulated immigration” in a plot line about beautiful flowers that wither when dandelions sneak into their greenhouse.
“It’s intended to describe defense of home and defense of country, and the reasons for that defense,” said Wilson, who self-published the book, listed on Amazon.com at $15.99.
The story tells of jealous weeds that hog all the water and soil in the greenhouse. The other flowers suffer, but don’t do anything until it’s almost too late – because they don’t want to appear intolerant.
While Judge Wilson’s creativity is commendable, we quibble with the greenhouse metaphor. Without illegal immigrants, all flowers, bushes, and lawns in America would die within a week.
We zipped over to the book’s listing at Amazon.com, where we enjoyed this comment, by one Jonathan Cohen:
The best story of the dangers of out-of-town dandelions coming in and destroying the greenhouse with their Camaros, mosques, and ethnic cooking flavors.
You’ll be flipping the pages until the climactic finale where the hot house flowers, who love the dandelions despite the different colors of their petals, burn a vitamin spike on the dandelions’ front lawn. Highly recommended.
Judge is in immig groups’ bad books [New York Daily News]
Brooklyn Judge Wants To Make Sure Kids Learn To Hate Immigrants Before Kindergarten [Gawker]
Hot House Flowers – John H. Wilson [Amazon]
* And you thought your parents were embarrassing when you were a pre-teen. [Associated Press via Times Leader]
* Now I know not to act upon those revenge fantasies I’ve had of playing the same prank on that female senior associate who yelled at me last week. [New York Daily News]
* Also an anti-competition issue — this way, the strip clubs don’t cut into the business of massage parlors. [Louisville Courier-Journal via How Appealing]
- Federal Judges, Federalist Society, Patricia Wald, Politics, Senate Judiciary Committee, State Judges
One highlight of this year’s Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention was the annual convention luncheon, held on Saturday, November 17. During the luncheon, a panel of distinguished judges addressed the very hot topic of judicial independence. The panelists:
Judge Carlos T. Bea (Ninth Circuit),
Chief Judge Danny J. Boggs (Sixth Circuit)
Judge Timothy B. Dyk (Federal Circuit)
Judge Patricia M. Wald (D.C. Circuit) (retired)
Chief Judge Dennis G. Jacobs (Second Circuit) (moderator)
A quick recap of the discussion, after the jump.
A rodent infestation at the Hughes Justice Complex’s cafeteria in Trenton has led state officials to close it down indefinitely and end the contract with the vendor that ran it.
After a health inspection last summer turned up dead rats and other health violations, the vendor, Unique Food Management of Cresskill, was given a chance to fix the conditions, but an inspection last Wednesday found few changes, says Tom Vincz, a spokesman for the state Treasury Department, which oversees the cafeteria.
The state will solicit bids from other firms. Meanwhile, nearly 3,000 workers in the AG’s office, the Supreme Court and other departments will have to go elsewhere for breakfast and lunch.
Unique Food Management, indeed.
Inadmissible: Out to Lunch [New Jersey Law Journal]
- 5th Circuit, Alberto Gonzales, Federal Judges, Gregory Coleman, Harriet Miers, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Elrod, Judicial Nominations, R. Ted Cruz, Senate Judiciary Committee, State Judges, White House Counsel
Thanks to everyone who responded to our request for gossip about possible Fifth Circuit judicial nominations. Your tips were very helpful to us, as was this piece in the Texas Lawyer.
(And thanks to Peter Harrell, a current law student and former political reporter for Congressional Quarterly, for this insightful comment. A good point. With respect to some judicial nominees, the Democrats will probably try “killing them softly,” with procedural mechanisms. But the Dems should be careful. If they do TOO much of this, they will look obstructionist. And Pelosi and pals are saying that they’re in D.C. to get things done.)
Anyway, re: the 5th Circuit, this is what we’re hearing:
1. There are two Texas seats on the Fifth Circuit to fill: those of Judge Patrick Higginbotham and Judge Harold DeMoss. (For the vacant Mississippi seat, Michael Wallace is the White House’s pick; but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now.)
2. A package deal of two nominees is likely. One would be a so-called “diversity pick,” i.e., a minority or a woman, and one would be a “regular” pick.
(Some Senate Republicans are not thrilled about the idea of a diversity pick. But the Democrats taking over the Senate next year, diversity picks will probably only increase.)
3. For the “diversity” seat, the leading candidates are two Texas state court judges: Justice George C. Hanks, Jr., an African-American appeals court judge; and Judge Jennifer W. Elrod, a well-regarded trial court judge.
(Yes, Judge Elrod is quite attractive — in a perky, “Jennifer Aniston” sort of way. But please do not confuse her with Jennifer Elrod, “Famous Centerfold and Celebrity.” Judge Elrod uses that middle initial for a reason.)
4. For the “regular” seat, the process right now is focused upon two individuals: Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater (N.D. Tex.), a Reagan appointee to the federal trial bench, and Gregory S. Coleman, a partner in the Austin office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.
5. A grab bag of other possibilities, but not as likely as the four just mentioned: Judge David Godbey (N.D. Tex.); Judge Jane Boyle (N.D. Tex.); Judge Lee H. Rosenthal (S.D. Tex., and a woman); Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, of the Texas Supreme Court; Justice Jane Bland, of the Texas First Court of Appeals; Texas Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz; and Professor Ernest A. Young, of the University of Texas School of Law (Austin).
These are the basics. If you’re a real judicial junkie, check out our additional observations, after the jump.