FBI

Yesterday, with hours to spare, the Mississippi Supreme Court stayed the execution of Willie Manning by a vote of 8-1. The stay was granted based on letters from the Department of Justice casting doubt on the scientific value of testimony from FBI experts at the trial almost 20 years ago.

The lone dissenter, Justice Mike Randolph, outlined his interest in putting someone to death immediately over the objections of the Department of Justice and its FBI experts. The decision reads like satire, making the case for the stay stronger than any majority opinion could. Oh, and then there’s some conspiracy rantings about the Obama Administration because, you know, Mississippi…

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* The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to wade into the constitutional contretemps of recess appointments, but if the high court refuses to take up the case, it may be back to the drawing board for the NLRB. [National Law Journal]

* The Am Law 100 law firm rankings are out, and it looks like there’s a new leader of the pack in terms of gross revenue. But which firm could it be? Not Skadden or Baker & McKenzie. We’ll likely have coverage on this later. [American Lawyer]

* Apparently the FBI wanted to continue questioning Dzhokhar Tsarnaev under Miranda’s public-safety exception, but a judge read the accused bomber his rights anyway. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* “This case is over. Someone should put it out of its misery.” Be that as it may, New York’s attorney general is desperate to get AIG’s Maurice Greenberg on the stand at trial. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes in my motherf**king files!” This spring, clerks in this old Mississippi courthouse are finding more and more snakes filed under “Ssssssss.” [Associated Press]

* Fast moving developments in the Boston case. The FBI wanted your help finding these guys. Now it says one is already dead and the other is on the run. [New York Times]

* Wow. The accused ricin mailer is messed up. [Washington Post]

* Lawyer turns down an $8M settlement and wins $130M. If you believe the New York Post. And you shouldn’t. [New York Post]

* Morgan Stanley is boring. [Dealbreaker]

* Remember our ally Musharraf? He’s in jail. [Los Angeles Times]

* Sorry wife, former Justice of the Peace charged with TOTALLY violating the peace. [CNN]

Kevin Ring in happier times.

Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine.  We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense.  That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong.  Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.

We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades.  (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him  a fake, back-datedScholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)

Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig.  In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team.  I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor.  I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry.  But that does not make them criminals….

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I spy with my little eye… FBI sext messages?!?

When you are given an FBI BlackBerry, it’s for official use. It’s not to text the woman in another office who you found attractive or to send a picture of yourself in a state of undress. That is not why we provide you an FBI BlackBerry.

Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, commenting on a “rash of sexting cases” detailed in an FBI disciplinary report.

(After taking a look at this report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation ought to consider changing its name to Frat Bros International. Let’s check it out.)

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Cyber security is all the rage this week, with President Obama announcing that he’s working on a new cyber war plan and the Internets freaking out that the Super Bowl blackout was really a Chinese hacking effort.

Some of you probably assume the ATL front page was hacked this week. Don’t worry though…we made all those problems ourselves.

Cyber attacks on U.S. businesses have increased dramatically as savvy hackers look to steal financial and intellectual assets from computer systems. The smartest cyber criminals have even figured out the best way to get what they want is to avoid the target corporation entirely and aim straight for their law firm — the soft underbelly of American cyber security…

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Thanks to spyware, an FBI dad got a gift-wrapped child porn case.

Like any dad, Joseph Auther was worried about what his son might get up to while exploring the wilds of the World Wide Web. So when his 7th grade son got a school-provided laptop from Whispering Palms School in Saipan in the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, Auther decided to install a monitoring program on it. He went with a spyware program called eBlaster from SpectorSoft, a company based in Vero Beach, Florida. Unbeknownst to his son, the program captured his website visits, his keystrokes, and every email, chat, and instant message he sent and received. This was all delivered up to his dad in emails, while giving the monitored person no hint that it was doing so.

Auther has a special appreciation for the benefits of surveillance. He’s an FBI special agent. In April, he discovered he was being transferred to the FBI office in Denver. At the end of the school year, Auther let Whispering Palms principal Thomas Weindl know that his family was moving and that they would be returning the school’s laptop. Weindl, 67, was actually a friend of the Auther family; when he got married earlier that year, Auther’s wife gave a reading at the ceremony. Auther told Weindl that he would return the laptop after he removed all of his son’s files, programs, and games.

Auther first took the laptop to his FBI office and asked his colleagues how to wipe it clean. Apparently they don’t have many cyber experts in the Mariana Islands, because they were unsuccessful. So Auther had to instead take it to a computer repair shop, which cleaned out the old files and allegedly re-imaged the hard drive to return it to its original settings. Auther didn’t tell the shop about eBlaster being on the computer — perhaps feeling a little Big Parent shame — but assumed that it would be wiped along with everything else. He then returned the computer to Weindl….

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The spoils of war aren’t what they used to be.

This weekend, a top spy had an affair with some woman named Broadchest… err “Broadwell”… and it was a top-grossing distraction from the fiscal cliff.

We’re going to talk about David Petraeus because on this Veterans Day we learned that you can’t be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency while also getting some action on the side. Drone strikes didn’t take Petraeus down. The Benghazi attacks didn’t take Patraeus down (although he’s not done with that yet). Paula Broadwell and her emails took down a four-star general covered in glory.

Before we go on, can we get a list of things you cannot be while also cheating on your wife? More importantly, can we get a list of positions that will not cause the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate your extramarital predilections?

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FOIA requests: how do they work?

As our resident Juggalo columnist mentioned in August, the minions of crazed rednecks who worship at the altar of Violent J and Shaggy2Dope — otherwise known as the Insane Clown Posse — are not at all happy that the FBI has labelled them a gang. To defend their honor, as well as their right to get wasted and throw absurd parties in the middle of nowhere, the Juggalo nation has decided to launch a Faygo attack on the Pentagon sue the FBI.

Looks like these clowns aren’t clowning around….

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Kinda like this, but with an FBI uniform.

It’s hard out here for an attorney, when you’re tryin’ to get money for the loans…

Especially when your legal work forces you to make enemies with an angry ex-husband who might try to, say, blow up your car. Or when you do contract work in a city nuisance department and wind up targeted by hit men for your work on the case against a local strip club.

No, this isn’t the trailer for Taken 2, it’s just two recent cases out of Texas and St. Louis.

Luckily, no one was killed in the car bomb attack or a strip club owner’s plan to kill the Fort-Worth Mayor and a mild-mannered contract attorney, but there’s plenty of stranger-than-fiction details to these cases….

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