It’s big news, especially for law students and private practice attorneys who think that working for the government gives you unchallenged job security. Government lawyers might be somewhat buffered from the tyranny of the legal market economy, but they can still be shown the door.
And word coming out of Charles Hynes’s office is that these 15 people were let go for poor performance…
We’ve been keeping an eye on Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan attorney who has been conducting a personal crusade against Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan student body president who happens to be gay. At the beginning of this month, we learned that Shirvell was taking a leave of absence from his day job in the Michigan Attorney General’s office. We also know that Armstrong has sought a restraining order against Shirvell.
Today, we’ve received word that Armstrong is requesting that Shirvell be brought before the bar on ethics charges. Finally. There’s got to be some kind of ethical rule that prohibits lawyers from gay bashing college kids, right?
This Law of Attraction is a novel by Allison Leotta, a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. It’s a fun, fast-paced read; I could hardly put it down, finishing it in two sittings. I concur with the blurb by Harvard law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz: “I loved this novel. Law of Attraction is realistic, gritty, and filled with twists and turns. Allison Leotta’s female lawyer character is compelling and engaging. This is a great read for anyone who loves legal thrillers, cares about domestic violence, or wonders how lawyers can live with themselves.”
(Disclosure: I also enjoyed Law of Attraction because it contains an Above the Law cameo. After the protagonist, assistant U.S. attorney Anna Curtis, gets in trouble, her misadventures wind up on ATL (pp. 217-18). The novel even contains fictionalized comments from the peanut gallery of Above the Law commenters — which are hilarious.)
I spoke with Leotta recently, while she was in New York to meet with her agent and do a book reading. We discussed such subjects as why, and how, she wrote her novel; the Department of Justice review process for the book; how she juggles her day job as a prosecutor, her writing career, and being the mother to two kids; and her advice to lawyers who want to become writers.
Today brings some updates in the ongoing saga of Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who writes Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog devoted to attacking the openly gay student body president of the University of Michigan. We’ve covered the story extensively (see here and here).
First, Shirvell’s blog is now “open to invited readers only” — i.e., it’s password-protected.
Second, Chris Armstrong is seeking a restraining order against Shirvell (who has shown up at events attended by Armstrong and also at Armstrong’s home). Judge Nancy Francis declined to issue an immediate restraining order but scheduled a hearing for next week. (Shirvell has already been banned from the Michigan campus, despite his status as a UM alumnus.)
Third, and most notably, Shirvell has taken a personal leave from the Michigan AG’s office. This announcement was made today by a spokesperson for Attorney General Mike Cox — who also mentioned that Shirvell will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing when he returns to work.
The news that Shirvell is out of the Michigan AG’s office, at least temporarily, will be welcome to many. But some observers, including our own Elie Mystal, have called for more: namely, Shirvell’s firing.
Let’s pause and consider: Would it be that easy to fire Andrew Shirvell? As a former government lawyer who once blogged about judges while appearing before them as a prosecutor, I have some thoughts on this….
Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who has decided to launch a smear campaign against a Michigan undergraduate student council president, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 last night. Shirvell made headlines two weeks ago, when his hate blog against University of Michigan student council president Chris Armstrong attracted media attention. Shirvell claims Chris Armstrong advances a “radical homosexual agenda.” Shirvell’s blog depicts Armstrong with photoshopped swastikas on his face and features all sorts of hateful rhetoric directed against Armstrong. We previously wrote about Shirvell here.
I don’t know if Shirvell thought he was going to get fellated by Larry King when he walked into the CNN studio. But Anderson Cooper was not about to let this unrepentant homophobe have an unchallenged opportunity to spout his hate to a national audience. The best Cooper line: “You seem to be obsessed with this young, gay man.”
Why don’t you check out the video clip, and then we’ll discuss…
Guess we won’t have Kenneth Kratz to kick around anymore. Kratz, aka the Sexting District Attorney, will soon step down as DA of Calumet County, Wisconsin. According to his attorney, Kratz’s resignation will take place before October 8, the date set for his removal hearing. The news was reported on Tuesday by the Associated Press.
Losing his post as chief prosecutor will definitely cramp Kratz’s dating style. He’ll forfeit his high-profile job and its $105,000 salary. He’ll no longer be able to hit on women victims seeking help from his office by sending them text messages that read “Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA?” and “I’m the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 6-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!”
Thanks to the internet, your memory is probably getting worse. But surely you remember our recent Lawyer of the Day honoree, District Attorney Kenneth Kratz of Calumet County, Wisconsin.
A domestic violence victim who turned to Kratz’s office for help claims that the DA sexually harassed her via numerous text messages, trying to convince her to have an affair with him. One of his texts read, in pertinent part, “I’m the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 6-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!”
(Someone should put that on a t-shirt: “You may be hot, but I am the prize!”)
Alas, the recipient of Kratz’s “I am the prize” text may not be the only woman he harassed. Two other women have come forward with allegations against the district attorney — and one of them claims Kratz has some weird ideas about what constitutes a fun date….
Andrew Shirvell: Is there anything you'd like to tell us?
Andrew Shirvell is an assistant attorney general in Michigan, and he’s got a bone to pick with Chris Armstrong, president of the University of Michigan student body.
In other reports, Armstrong is referred to as “the gay president” of the Michigan student body. But on Andrew Shirvell’s blog devoted to Chris Armstrong, Shirvell refers to Armstrong as: “a viciously militant homosexual activist who is (currently) the president of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA).”
You know what they say about vicious militants, Mr. Shirvell: it takes one to know one. Shirvell — who, once again, is an Assistant Attorney General — is using his blog to conduct the worst kind of “smear the queer” campaign, and it’s all directed against a college student. You’d call Shirvell a homophobe, but that would be insulting to the many bigots out there who merely try to suppress a civil liberty or two.
Andy Shirvell is well beyond your average gay-basher…
Everyone thinks of Midwesterners as so wholesome. Perhaps this perception is unfounded.
For example, why are Wisconsin lawyers so darn horny? First there were the Biglaw Bad Boys, accused of sexual assault. Now we’re hearing about a government lawyer — an elected district attorney, in fact — who apparently let his libido get the best of him.
Here’s the story: Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz sent a flurry of text messages to a woman, 30 texts over three days, in an effort to start up an affair with her. The woman, who described Kratz’s harassing texts as putting her through “three days of hell,” was a victim of domestic abuse. Kratz met the woman in course of prosecuting her ex-boyfriend for the violence against her.
OMG. Legal ethics FAIL.
And some of Kratz’s texts are simply 2M2H. Read on, and prepare for the LULZ….
I recently wondered, on Twitter, whether it’s only a matter of time before everyone in Manhattan has bed bugs. Bedbugs are like death and taxes: they will get you eventually, and the only question is when.
For lawyers and staff in the legendary Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the answer may be: soon. An employee in the office informs us that a bedbug-sniffing canine was brought into the 80 Centre Street building this afternoon — and that the dog alerted to the presence of bedbugs in multiple locations. Furthermore, rumor has it that (1) the powers-that-be in the office have known about bedbugs at 80 Centre Street for at least a week, and (2) the main building, at One Hogan Place, has had bedbugs for even longer.
(Right now Robert Morgenthau is probably thinking to himself, “Thank God I left that dump for Wachtell.” Morgenthau’s sucessor as DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., is probably scratching himself.)
“Several offices apparently came back positive for bed bugs,” said our source. “But, bizarrely, they are only going to fumigate those specific offices — not the entire building, like they should.”
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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