Judge Carlos Bea is one of my favorite members of the Ninth Circuit. He’s refreshingly conservative, on a famously (or infamously) liberal court. He has a fascinating personal history; how many federal judges can claim they were almost deported? He has an ancestral home — some call it a castle — in Spain, which he sometimes makes available to vacationing law clerks. And he tools about town in a vintage Rolls-Royce (which, rumor has it, he received as payment for legal work before he took the bench).
Well, it looks like one assistant U.S. attorney has some expensive tire marks on his back. Check out the epic benchslap that Judge Bea just dished out — not just to the poor prosecutor, but to the United States Department of Justice….
Despite the media echo chamber saying that the economy is improving, it’s obviously still tough to find work. Especially for lawyers. Everyone says you’re supposed to have a can-do attitude, but we sometimes prefer to think about all the things that you can’t do as an attorney.
Included in that list is getting a paying job at the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ has had a hiring freeze in place for a year now. We’ve heard reports of some thawing — i.e., selected parts of the DOJ receiving authorization to fill a handful of priority positions — but, for the most part, there are hardly any paying lawyer jobs to be had in that division of government.
Instead, U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country have been posting unpaid Special Assistant United States Attorney positions for some time now. We covered them last May. My colleague (and former assistant U.S. attorney) David Lat defended the SAUSA gigs somewhat, arguing that the nonpaying jobs might not be as bad as they seem. It’s fun, exciting work, and it provides valuable experience and serious professional credibility.
There is a crucial, ominous difference between then and now, though. Previous SAUSA jobs were generally aimed at entry-level or fairly junior attorneys. Now we’ve got a recent opening that’s asking for more.…
President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address this evening, and it was even less exciting than last year (which was less exciting than the year before, when the famous Obama v. Alito showdown over Citizens United took place). Tonight was light on drama — one of the most compelling moments came early on, with the arrival in the chamber of retiring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — and President Obama’s speech was light on new ideas. Considering that we’re in an election year, with no major legislation likely to pass anytime soon, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
* Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer has a challenge for you: “I defy you to tell the difference between a naked prostitute and any other naked woman.” [Dealbreaker]
* It’s not often that Cravath partners leave for other firms, but it happens. Jeffrey Smith, former head of the environmental practice at Cravath, recently decamped for Crowell & Moring. [Am Law Daily]
* If you’re a trusts and estates lawyer or a reader of fiction, consider checking out this well-reviewed new novel by Patrick James O’Connor, which takes the form of an extended last will and testament. [Amazon (affiliate link)]
It’ll take some time before a court rules on the legality of Barack Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Obama nominated Cordray two years ago, but the Republicans have refused to allow his nomination to come to a vote. Obama then wanted to use his recess appointment powers to fill the vacancy while Congress was away, but Republicans have blocked that through a series of sham sessions in which a couple of members gavel in and gavel out in a few seconds every couple of days. Last week, Obama decided those sessions did not constitute real sessions and appointed Cordray anyway, and we’ve all been treated to a week of howling from the right about an “illegal” power grab by the executive branch.
I appeared on the Mike Huckabee Show this weekend and defended the president’s appointment. It felt a lot like writing here at ATL: the live studio audience even booed me to make me feel at home.
But on Friday, Republican lawmakers did something really funny: they asked Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to explain what role the Office of Legal Counsel played in advising or authorizing Obama’s move. I’m immediately reminded of Bones McCoy trying to get back to the quarantined Genesis planet in Star Trek III when he says: “There aren’t gonna be any damned permits! How can you get a permit to do a damned illegal thing?”
Regardless of the legality of the recess appointments, did Obama do the right thing?
[T]his Court is compelled to find that the Government team allowed a key FBI agent to testify untruthfully before the grand jury, inserted material falsehoods into affidavits submitted to magistrate judges in support of applications for search warrants and seizure warrants, improperly reviewed e-mail communications between one Defendant and her lawyer, recklessly failed to comply with its discovery obligations, posed questions to certain witnesses in violation of the Court’s rulings, engaged in questionable behavior during closing argument and even made misrepresentations to the Court.
– Judge A. Howard Matz of the Central District of California, benchslapping federal prosecutors — and vacating the convictions, and dismissing the indictment — in a high-profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution. (Gavel bang: Daniel Fisher.)
(Additional links and information about this case — if you do FCPA or white-collar criminal work, this may be of interest to you — after the jump.)
Thanksgiving is just a few days away. But at the U.S. Department of Justice, there might not be a lot to be thankful for. Most of the DOJ-related news floating around right now is depressing.
A court-appointed investigator, Henry F. Schuelke, just issued what the New York Times described as a “scathing” report on one of the DOJ’s most prominent prosecutions in recent years. Schuelke concluded that the prosecution the late Senator Ted Stevens “was ‘permeated’ by the prosecutors’ ‘serious, widespread and at times intentional’ illegal concealment of evidence that would have helped Mr. Stevens defend himself at his 2008 trial.” Ouch.
(The good news, from the Department’s perspective: a recommendation against criminal prosecution of the DOJ officials involved in the case. That’s something to be thankful for, I suppose.)
Alas, that’s not all for depressing dispatches out of the Department. Let’s discussing the hiring freeze, and the state of Honors Program offers….
Congratulations to the 2012 Bristow Fellows, who learned of their selection earlier this month. These one-year fellowships in the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office, awarded to recent law school graduates with outstanding academic records and top clerkships, are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and often lead to SCOTUS clerkships as well). You can read more about the Bristow Fellowship, including the job responsibilities and application process, on the Justice Department website.
Let’s take a look at the next crop of Bristow Fellows. Which law schools did they graduate from, and for whom did they clerk?
Also: over the past three years, which law schools and judges have minted the most Bristow Fellows?
When Berkeley Law professor John Yoo is able to come to the defense of President Obama’s secret legal justification for the assassination of American citizens, it’s time for progressives to pack it up and find a new candidate. Mike Bloomberg? Cory Booker? There are a bunch of other political figures out there who will gladly champion some liberal ideals until it becomes politically expedient for them to sell out the left in exchange for the warm embrace of the military-industrial complex.
Progressives will need to find somebody else because this Obama guy is done as a progressive leader. Many of you have been following the story of Anwar al-Awlaki. He’s the American-born radical cleric who was targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Many have questioned Obama’s authority to assassinate an American without due process of the law.
Today’s news is that President Obama did seek and receive legal justification for this strike from the Department of Justice. But you won’t get to see it. That’s because the DOJ issued Obama a secret memo that purportedly explains why Obama is allowed to kill Americans now….
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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