Preet Bharara

Now that classes are back in session, I really hope some professor at Cardozo Law School pulls Benula Bensam aside and tells her that her keeping the story about her passing notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.) alive is probably not helping her chances of securing a legal job.

You’ll remember Bensam as the student who got reprimanded for passing notes to Judge Rakoff during the Rajat Gupta trial. She went on to sue federal prosecutors and marshals for a number of claims arising out of largely standard courthouse security protocols. As we’ve previously discussed, upon leaving the courthouse Bensam wanted her cell phone back and had problems getting it.

Judge Andrew L. Carter (S.D.N.Y.) kicked most of Bensam’s case today, but he did give her leave to file an amended complaint on one issue.

For her sake, I hope she doesn’t take it…

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There are wiser career moves than suing the U.S. Marshals.

Do you remember Benula Bensam? You probably don’t. She was the student at Cardozo Law School who spent part of her summer watching the Rajat Gupta trial. She was reprimanded for sending notes to Judge Jed Rakoff (S.D.N.Y.), including some that questioned Rakoff’s rulings. Such behavior could be seen as an attempt to improperly influence a judge, and so Rakoff had the U.S. Marshals bring her before him, and he told her to cut it out.

Yeah, you remember her now. It was a humorous story about a law student who was maybe a little bit overzealous.

But now Bensam is taking things to the next level. Instead of quietly learning her lesson and getting ready for next semester, the Cardozo student has decided to sue a whole slew of people. She claims that U.S. Marshals didn’t return her cell phone — before they returned her cell phone — and so she’s suing the Marshals, courthouse security, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., and several other defendants. In the process of suing, she’s also revealing how she had what I’d call a bit of a nutty outside the courthouse.

This complaint is just going to do wonders for her Google footprint….

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The battle between Mongolia and a Texas-based auction house over control of rare Tyrannosaurus bones is getting bigger. I’m telling you that when BBC gets around to making the documentary Walking With Dinosaurs And Their Attorneys, you’re going to want to watch it.

Let me bring you up to speed: Last month, Heritage Auctions tried to auction off a rare Tyrannosaurs bataar skeleton. The animal is believed to have lived in what is now Mongolia between 70 and 100 million years ago. And now its bones that are worth an incalculable amount to science can be sold for around a million dollars to private collectors. The auction has been held up though, thanks to a temporary injunction obtained by representatives of Elbegdorj Tsakhia, the president of Mongolia. They claim the skeleton was illegally taken away from Mongolia and want it returned. In response, the long dead Tyrannosaur said “AAAAHHHNNN,” and wondered why the opposable-thumbed ones insist on trying to own nature.

When we last we checked in, Heritage Auctions said it was working with Mongolian authorities to resolve the issue. But now the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Homeland Security is involved(!!!).

Man, I wish Michael Crichton was still alive, because Triassic Terrorists is a novel that needs to be written….

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Brett McGurk

* Dewey know how many professional services firms it takes to wind down a Biglaw firm? According to new D&L bankruptcy filings, there are at least eight of them — including Togut Segal & Segal, a leading law firm that reportedly charges $935 an hour. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Despite Barack Obama’s pledge of support, Brett McGurk has withdrawn his name from the White House pool of ambassadorial candidates amid much salacious controversy. Apparently this man knows a lost cause when he sees one. [Washington Post]

* So many DOMA lawsuits, so little time: what’s happening in the six major cases on this statute? The majority are in various stages of appeal, and the world at large is currently awaiting a cert filing to get a final take from the Supreme Court. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* LSAC will now vet incoming law students’ GPAs and LSAT scores. The ABA won’t do it because they need the insurance policy of someone else to blame in case something happens to go wrong. [National Law Journal]

* Stephen McDaniel’s lawyers are expected to ask a judge to reconsider his $850K bond today. If he’s released, it seems like there’s a high probability that he’ll become an ATL commenter. [Macon Telegraph]

* Remember the legal fight over the Tyrannosaurus bataar? Well, now Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y., is on the case, and he wants it to be seized for return to Jurassic Park Mongolia. [New York Observer]

Of course HRH - 'Her Royal Hillaryness' - made the list.

Earlier this week, Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, the Time 100. For lawyers, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news: lawyers represent over 10 percent of the Time 100. The bad news: many of the law-degree-holding honorees were not recognized for their work as lawyers.

So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100 this year?

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* Hey, Preet Bharara, even Lady Gaga can read your poker face when you’re going all in on an allegation of Full Tilt Ponzi. Maybe Lederer and Ferguson will finally fold. [Wall Street Journal]

* You know what this country really needs? More doctors who don’t believe in science. Another stem cell research case is going up to the D.C. Circuit. [Bloomberg]

* The last 9/11 wrongful death suit has been settled. Lessons learned: airport screeners might not know what Mace is, but they sure can lift and separate your balls. [New York Times]

* Cooley Law held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new campus. We’re good at surviving natural disasters, but a tsunami of unemployed lawyers might break this profession. [Miami Herald]

* A group of drag queens in Florida got busted for thieving the essentials — bras, boas, and butt pads. As RuPaul would say, you better work. Or steal. You know, whatever. [New York Daily News]

* Guys in my high school middle school used to have the ACLU file lawsuits over breathalyzer tests all the time. It was no big deal. [MSNBC]

Ted Freedman

Last October, we wrote about the mysterious departure from Kirkland & Ellis of Theodore Freedman. Freedman was a prominent bankruptcy and restructuring partner at the firm, based out of the New York office.

As we mentioned in the story, our coverage of Freedman’s departure was prompted by “interesting rumors.” We hoped that our post would result in additional corroboration of what we were hearing. Alas, our write-up just prompted the usual attacks from Kirkland Kool-Aid drinkers, who accused us in the comments of harboring ill-will toward K&E and engaging in shoddy journalism.

Well, this time we’ll enjoy the last laugh (not because we have anything against K&E — we don’t — but because we like being proven correct). We can share what we know about Ted Freedman, because the rumors are now embodied in a federal criminal indictment….

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This is the worst piece of whoring journalism I have read in a long time. How long are you going to suck [U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara]’s teat? All to hurt a decent, honest witness, [whom assistant U.S. attorney Reed] Brodsky could not lay a glove on. It did not work. The jury was not impressed by the worst cross examination ever delivered. So in the style of Preet, try to smear him by working the sycophants in the back of the Courtroom. He learned from Schumer in the Senate… Preet is scared sh[**]less he is going to lose this case so he feeds his whores at the WSJ. What a disgrace for an otherwise great paper.

John Dowd, partner at Akin Gump and defense lawyer to Raj Rajaratnam, in an irate email to Wall Street Journal reporter Chad Bray.

Last week I attended an interesting talk by Preet Bharara, currently serving as the U.S. Attorney for the (extremely powerful and prestigious) Southern District of New York. I had heard great things about Bharara from many people, including current and former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office and people who previously worked with him on Capitol Hill, where he served as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer. So I was eager to hear his remarks, which he delivered to the New York Financial Writers Association, a group of business and finance journalists here in New York.

Here’s my report on what he had to say — including, for those of you who aspire to be assistant U.S. attorneys, what he expects from the prosecutors who work for him….

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Irving Picard

Rack up another win for trustee Irving Picard, the partner at Baker Hostetler who’s cleaning up the Bernard Madoff mess. On Friday, Picard and Preet Bharara, the headline-making U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced a $7.2 billion settlement with the estate of Jeffry Picower (no it’s not spelled “Jeffrey”).

Picower, a successful investor and prominent philanthropist, earned billions — both real, through investing with Goldman Sachs, and fictional, through investing with Madoff — before he died in October 2009. Picower was found dead in the swimming pool of his home in Palm Beach, apparently after suffering a heart attack (a plot device familiar to viewers of Brothers & Sisters and The OC). If he had held on until January 2010, Picower would have avoided the estate tax.

Of the $7.2 billion settlement, $5 billion will go to Picard, to settle the complaint he filed against Picower in bankruptcy court, and $2.2 billion will go to the Department of Justice — the largest civil forfeiture payment in U.S. history. All of this money will eventually find its way to qualifying Madoff victims.

Based on monies collected to date, what kind of recovery might Madoff’s victims be looking at?

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