U.S. Attorneys Offices

Paul Bergrin (via Getty Images)

I have to give Paul Bergrin some credit. This former federal prosecutor, accused of drug dealing, pimping, and murder, has been remarkably successful at eluding conviction for his crimes.

Bergrin was first arrested back in 2009. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey, where Bergrin once worked before becoming a defense lawyer, brought him to trial. That trial, which took place in 2011, ended with a hung jury. Some time was taken up with appellate machinations (in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office prevailed).

A new trial, before a different district judge, got underway this January. And today justice finally caught up with the man that New York magazine famously dubbed “the baddest lawyer in the history of Jersey”….

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Justice Sotomayor: you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

As we recently observed, Justice Sonia Sotomayor could be thought of as the people’s justice. The Wise Latina is also the Warm Latina.

Justice Sotomayor shows up on Sesame Street as well as One First Street. She hugs little girls on her book tour. She hires law clerks from outside the top 14 law schools.

But you need to stay on her good side; if you tick her off, woe unto you. Let’s check out the Beloved World (affiliate link) — of pain — that Her Honor just inflicted on a federal prosecutor down in Texas….

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Patrick Bateman? No, Tabber Benedict (via Getty).

* Former Biglaw associate Tabber Benedict, whom we’ve mentioned before (in happier times), reportedly threw a lavish “going away” party — going away to prison, that is. [Daily Mail]

* Take your pick: is government an “impetuous vortex” or a “hideous monster [with] devouring jaws”? [Althouse]

* Some thoughts from Juan Haines, a current San Quentin inmate and jailhouse lawyer, on wrongful conviction. [Life of the Law]

* In defense of the weekly meeting. [What About Clients?]

* Prosecutors: above the (traffic) law? [UTSanDiego.com]

* And how about the U.S. Postal Service? [Felix Salmon]

* The furor over U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the late Aaron Swartz shows no sign of abating. [How Appealing]

* Speaking of technology law, how would you like to win $5,000? If so, check out this contest. [IT-Lex]

Paul Bergrin

This case is about a lawyer who used his law license to disguise the fact that he was a drug dealer, a pimp, and a murderer.

– Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gay, describing defendant Paul Bergrin during opening statements in the New Jersey criminal defense attorney’s murder-racketeering trial.

Chris Christie, king of the prose-ticians.

* U.S. Attorneys are rising up, taking office, and conducting their business like hard-ass prosecutors. [Wall Street Journal]

* If only they had more guns at the police station, this might never have happened. [Fox News]

* Of course, out in Arizona, the state attorney general is pushing for an “armed posse” to patrol schools. Arizona: where bad ideas go to be fruitful and multiply. [NBC News]

* Would you give your kidney to your favorite law professor? I wouldn’t, but I would consider taking the kidney of my least favorite law professor and giving it to, well, pretty much anybody else. [Wake Forest School of Law]

* “Aereokiller” has been ordered to stop killing TV networks. [Film On]

* Wait, we still have “longshoremen”? For real, not just as the backdrop for a season of the Wire? [Miami Herald]

* Should law deans be “disbarred”? I like how people have to spend all this time just trying to figure out how to get law deans to tell the truth. [Tax Prof Blog]

* “Did the imperative use of the F-bomb … threaten judicial authority?” Wow, seriously? This is perhaps the most entertaining question presented for review in a Supreme Court certiorari petition in the history of man. [National Law Journal]

* Boy, Dewey have some expensive paintings for you to buy! This failed firm’s art collection will be hitting the auction block in February, and the entire LeBoeuf lot is supposedly worth $2.3M, but most pieces are pretty damn ugly. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* When anonymous commenting goes wronger-er: Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has resigned amid the scandal caused by his underlings’ obnoxious comments. [Times-Picayune]

* Your employers really don’t want pictures of your office holiday party antics going viral online (but we do). Here are some of the many ways they’ll try to keep you from becoming internet famous. [Corporate Counsel]

* George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is suing NBCUniversal, alleging that the network and Today show reporters committed serious “journalistic crimes.” [Media Decoder / New York Times]

Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged two former stockbrokers, Thomas Conradt and David Weishaus, with insider trading. There is a legal angle here (aside from the criminal charges and the civil case being brought by the SEC): Conradt is a lawyer, a member of the Maryland and Colorado bars, and Weishaus graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law a year after Conradt.

To be honest, though, we’re not intensely interested in Conradt and Weishaus. Their alleged misdeeds occurred while they were working in finance, not law; the contours of Conradt’s legal career are somewhat unclear; and as for Weishaus, it’s not clear that he ever passed the bar or practiced as a lawyer.

As regular readers of Above the Law know, we have a weakness for prestige around these parts. So we’re far more interested in the former Cravath associate who, according to law enforceent allegations, made their misdeeds possible….

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FIRST! Assistant United States Attorney.

First amongst weird creation myths is that of the Mbombo god, who is said to have vomited up pretty much all of our world. Similarly, the story of how this website has been… thrown up is worthy of retelling. At its essence, it goes like this: A boy blogs about very sober legal issues in an incredibly earnest way and then the governor of New Jersey tells him to start Above the Law, The End. I may have missed some crucial details and got others flat-out wrong, but I think the kernel of truth is still in there somewhere.

At any rate, that boy was working for the United States Attorney’s office in Newark at the time. Doing anything on the internet, even if it was super-serious and incredibly sincere, could be considered controversial because of the position. The lawyers tasked with working in such a high-profile prosecutorial role must be seen as impartial, lest the cases they take on get tainted by their online presence.

Which is what makes it all the more surprising that history is repeating itself down in New Orleans, where two assistant United States attorneys have become embroiled in scandal after being caught commenting on not just the law in general (like our own dear leader), but the specific cases that came through their office.

It’s almost as if the New Orleans U.S. Attorney’s office is trying to outdo David Lat in some way. Which, I mean, trick please…

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Ed. note: Lat here. This post is by lawyer turned novelist Allison Leotta, whom I previously profiled. I recently read Leotta’s newest book, Discretion, which I highly recommend. Not only is it a gripping thriller, but it’s legally realistic too, reflecting Leotta’s experience as a federal prosecutor and her research into the escort business.

As a former sex-crimes prosecutor who just wrote a novel about the escort business, I keep getting the same question from my Biglaw buddies: “I already feel like a high-end prostitute. Shouldn’t I get paid like one?”

It’s an old saw that lawyers are already prostitutes. Face it, we care deeply for our clients because we’re paid to care about them. If we’re good, we start by convincing ourselves that the side of the legal dispute we more or less randomly ended up on happens to be the right side. You think a hooker’s job is that different? Forget it. The infamous D.C. Madam — an inspiration for my latest book, Discretion (affiliate link) — was a woman who dropped out of law school and opened an escort agency.

You’re good-looking, you like people, you know how to bill by the hour — you could totally do this. But is being a high-class escort really a better job than the one you’ve got now? The answer will be familiar to every memo-writing associate: It depends. Before you go trading in those Christian Louboutins for five-inch-stilettos, check out these side-to-side comparisons of the trades….

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Patrick Fitzgerald

When renowned federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down as U.S. Attorney in Chicago, he reacted skeptically to the suggestion that he join the dark side jump over to private practice and become a defense lawyer. When asked about this at a press conference regarding his departure, he quipped, “Can you see me as a defense attorney?”

Well, pooh-poohing something isn’t the same as rejecting it out of hand. Yesterday brought news that Pat Fitzgerald will be entering private practice after all.

So which Biglaw firm just landed this big fish?

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