Unless you’re living under a rock or stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge, you know that N.J. Governor Chris Christie spent yesterday digging himself out of the Fort Lee traffic scandal in the most Jersey of manner — by placing a proverbial bullet in the back of the neck of one of his most trusted allies Tony Soprano-style. He even invited the media over to the Bada-Bing for a couple of hours after he did it.
Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly took the rap for closing lanes on the GWB and creating a traffic snarl for Fort Lee residents after a smoking gun email emerged where the staffer seemingly ordered David Wildstein, himself a once highly-paid Christie staffer who resigned last month, to stop up the bridge to make life miserable for Fort Lee. The mayor of the town — a Democrat — had failed to fall in line and endorse the Republican Christie in his re-election campaign, and Kelly’s email outlined the chosen means of retaliation. It seems dumb, but people may have died over this issue.
Liberal columnists are calling Christie basically an overfed Pol Pot and conservatives are comparing this — because they cherish beating their dead one-trick pony — to Benghazi.
But whether Christie was directly involved in this scandal or not — and so far the digital paper trail seems to begin with his mild-mannered aide showing uncharacteristic initiative and ends with a high school crony whom Christie put in charge of the bridge — this scandal falls somewhere between unsurprising and utterly inevitable.
Christie is a former prosecutor, serving as a U.S. Attorney from 2002 until 2008. The modern prosecutor is armed with the luxury to exact petty, brutal revenge on any and all who cross him or her, and this is the mentality that Christie brought into the Governor’s Mansion. Indeed, he made this mentality his political calling card.
Remember the 80s? Big hair, Dynasty, Huey Lewis was popular for some reason. Well, Judge Jed Rakoff remembers the 80s, and he also remembers the way the federal government used to actually investigate and prosecute people who committed massive financial crimes — Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating, a bevy of other savings and loans kingpins. Good times.
And Judge Rakoff wants to know what happened to prosecuting financial crimes, specifically the sort of fraud that crippled the economy. So he took to the pages of the New York Review of Books to ponder all the financial prosecutions that could have been. And he has some theories about what happened and how prosecutors could do a better job in the future.
It’s a fascinating look at a bunch of ideas that the government is going to totally ignore…
Leave aside that the article hits the tired drum that more people should have gone to prison after the financial crisis – because, of course, the only thing that causes an economic downturn is crime.
Instead, check out how SIGTARP shows us that they’re doing good work as a law enforcement agency.
[Special Inspector General Christy] Romero noted that the average prison sentence imposed by courts for crimes investigated by SIGTARP is five years and nine months — nearly twice the national average for white-collar fraud.
Right – SIGTARP is a serious player because it’s getting serious prison time…
Ed. note:Matt Kaiser founded The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC, a white-collar boutique in Washington, D.C., and will now be writing a weekly column for us about white-collar practice and his adventures in building a law firm. Matt previously covered the Supreme Court for us. This is the second installment of his new column.
Suppose you’re a fourth-year associate in a litigation department in a large firm on one of the coasts. You’ve worked on a lot of different matters — you’ve done document review for commercial litigation. You put together a privilege log for some patent litigation (who says patent litigation is specialized?). You waded through documents in an FCPA case. You even got to do some deposition digesting for a reinsurance lawsuit!
You really liked your work on the FCPA document review. You noticed that the documents related to a foreign country, which sounded exotic. You could sit in your office, staring at the brick wall on the other side of the alley, and imagine that you were an extra in Casablanca, with a view toward how the world really works overseas.
Perhaps most importantly, you loved how your friends from law school reacted when you told them you were working on an FCPA matter. Cocktail parties became more interesting when people thought of you as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, rather than the reinsurance guy. You resolved that you’d do more white-collar work and perhaps make this noble practice area the focus of your career.
* Should Justice Lori Douglas, she of the infamous porn pictures, step down from the bench? Well, she has 324,100 reasons to stay. [Toronto Star]
* And what about Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg — should they leave while the Democrats still control the White House and the Senate? [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* A legal challenge to gun control stumbles — on standing grounds. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Moral of the story: if you want to threaten opposing counsel, don’t do it over voicemail — unless you want to get censured. [ABA Journal]
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
* Dewey want more details about the lucrative contracts given to Stephen DiCarmine and Joel Sanders? Most definitely! [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]
* An interesting peek inside the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The S.D.N.Y.’s boss is a big fan of the Boss. [New York Times]
* Now that the merger between US Airways and American Airlines has been approved, US Airways CEO Doug Parker offers a behind-the-scenes look at his company’s response to the government’s antitrust lawsuit. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]
Today’s notable move involves Andy DeVooght, coming out of the U.S. Attorney’s in Chicago. DeVooght has an enviable résumé. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he worked as a partner at Winston & Strawn and clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court, for the late Chief Justice Rehnquist.
Instead of returning to Biglaw, a common path for someone in DeVooght’s shoes, he’s joining a buzz-generating boutique. Which one?
For those too young to remember, allow me to explain. It wasn’t until Ryan White that Ronald Reagan even knew what AIDS was. The sick kid from Indiana prompted President Reagan to, in one of his famous fireside chats, declare war on the disease. That war was won two years later with an armistice signed in Paris by emissaries from both warring nations. Anyway, that’s why we have parades all the time now.
Fast forward, like, 70 years, and we arrive at last week. A larcenous little leukemia survivor stole our collective hearts with a day of make-believe so unbelievably rich, the Muppet Babies have considered filing a copyright lawsuit. The child, with a real name no one cares about and the fake name “Batkid,” was allowed to run around the entire city of San Francisco while denizens of that city (mostly homeless bums) pretended that he was a superhero. He rescued a damsel in distress, helped to arrest the Riddler, and finished the day off by murdering the Penguin in cold blood. JKJKJK. The Penguin plot line had something to do with the San Francisco Giants mascot.
Anyway, the sickly little scamp had a helluva day and made everyone feel like a million bucks. All because of pretend.
And no one pretended harder than the U.S. Attorney’s Office….
* U. Penn. Law doesn’t need to toot its own horn about kicking off its visiting jurist program with a Supreme Court justice — we’ll do it on the school’s behalf: toot f-ing toot for Justice Kennedy. [National Law Journal]
* President Obama nominated former OLC attorney and current HLS professor David Barron for a First Circuit vacancy, and a Western New England alum for a district court judgeship. Congrats! [Boston Globe]
* The Senate confirmed Todd Hughes for a seat on the Federal Circuit without any opposition. This is what progress looks like: Hughes will be the first openly gay federal appellate judge in U.S. history. [BuzzFeed]
* Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is pretty pissed that federal budget issues are allowing his office to get outgunned by wealthy financial firms. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “It seems a very coordinated effort of smugness.” As we reported previously, lawyers from the small firm representing Michael Jackson’s family think O’Melveny & Myers is full of d-bags. [Los Angeles Times]
* Sorry, but you can’t bang your clients. Well, that’s not completely true. You can bang your clients, but you have to bang them before there’s a legal relationship to keep banging them ethically. [Daily Report]
How are you fixed for Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruitcocktail (and maybe a bottle of Robitussin, too) in your neighborhood? I am fresh out of ‘purple drank.’ So, I may come by for a visit. In a rainstorm. In the middle of the night. In a hoodie. Don’t get upset or anything if you see me looking in your window… kay?
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