* Rest in peace, Benazir Bhutto; God knows you weren’t able to live in it. [CNN]
* That seems like a pretty good starting point for liability against the zoo. [BBC]
* We don’t know if you know Tom Goldstein, but he’s a pretty big deal. [SCOTUSBlog]
* If he could only apply all of that genius to acquiring some money to actually make a mortgage payment… [WSJ Law Blog]
* Rest in peace, Benazir Bhutto; God knows you weren’t able to live in it. [CNN]
To balance out our recent tales of diva-licious behavior by a celebrated legal journalist, Nina Totenberg of NPR, here’s an opposing viewpoint — a “But see,” if you will — from Thomas Goldstein. Goldstein is a partner at Akin Gump, a top Supreme Court advocate, and founder of SCOTUSblog.
Tom Goldstein also knows Ms. Nina well, since he’s a former intern for her and a longtime friend (see here). He writes:
I admit to being the world’s biggest Nina partisan, except maybe for my daughter (Nina) and wife and sister (who also were interns). The diva reputation makes for good press but honestly isn’t deserved; the seats in the press gallery are assigned.
Totes actually spends tons of time worrying about and caring for friends, including several who are recovering from cancer. She’s a sweetheart.
We thank Tom Goldstein for his thoughts on La Totenberg — but we’re disappointed to hear them! There are precious few divas in this world. When you find a true diva, or even a potential one, you should hold on to her for as long as you can.
With respect to Goldstein’s comments on the press gallery, that’s true — in part. The situation is actually a bit more complicated. If you’re just DYING to know how seat assignments work for the SCOTUS press corps (and we know you are), we’ll provide a detailed report in a subsequent post.
Names & Faces: Totenberg’s Courtside Seat [Washington Post]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Nina Totenberg (scroll down)
- Fabulosity, Media and Journalism, Nina Totenberg, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Thomas Goldstein, You Go Girl
A blog that labels itself a “legal tabloid” has been soliciting juicy anecdotes about NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg’s on-the-job behavior, but Totenberg says she’s just doing her job.
In a post on Above the Law authored by the blog’s editor in chief, David Lat, one anecdote describes the correspondent entering the Supreme Court’s press section moments before a morning session begins — and asking someone sitting in the front row to surrender the seat.
Totenberg gets her way, it says, “because nobody says no to Nina.”
But not so fast: Totenberg says that since she happens to be the dean of the Supreme Court press corps, she actually has an assigned seat — that nice one, right up front.
Who knew the Supreme Court press gallery was just like a high school cafeteria? On first Mondays we wear pink!
Totenberg’s complete comment, and our reaction, after the jump.
- David Boies, Education / Schools, Erwin Chemerinsky, Fabulosity, Federal Judges, Laurence Tribe, Law Professors, Merrick Garland, Peter Barta, Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Clerks, Thomas Goldstein
In a recent post about Peter Barta, the Legal Aid lawyer who allegedly videotaped his female colleagues as they were getting undressed, we ranked on policy debaters.
Maybe we should take it back. From a highly informative reader email:
Not all former policy debaters are creeps. Here’s a list of former policy debaters who are current or future legal rock stars:
Justice Samuel Alito, Judge Merrick Garland, Larry Tribe, Louis Kaplow, Erwin Chemerinsky, NYU President John Sexton, Jonathan Massey, David Boies, Tom Goldstein, Rebecca Tushnet, Annie Kastanek (OT 2007/Kennedy), and John Hughes (OT 2005/Thomas; pictured at right, captured in mid-debate).
Former policy debaters, please accept our apologies. We did extemp and L-D debate in high school, and we generally viewed C-X debaters with suspicion. They struck us as kids who talked reallyreallyfast, warning constantly of nuclear war. But maybe we were wrong.
To paraphrase the “ignorant tipster” from the Oona O’Connell story: “We feel kind of bad that we prejudged them. Sorry to sound like an afterschool special. But you know what? Perhaps we learned a lesson today. Good on you. ‘The more you know.’”
Earlier: Reading the Bartameter (Part 3): What Is Up With Those Policy Debaters?
- Akin Gump, Biglaw, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, Fabulosity, John Dowd, Litigators, Monica Goodling, Prostitution, Sex Scandals, Thomas Goldstein, You Go Girl
Here are two quick updates to our earlier coverage of Akin Gump, the prestigious D.C. law firm, where an assistant to alleged D.C. madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey worked as a legal secretary. The second of these updates is nothing short of mind-blowing.
1. As a commenter pointed out, Tom Goldstein, the head of Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice, just posted an “opening” for a “special assistant.” This led some to wonder: Could the madam-in-training have worked for the Supreme Court superstar?
It wouldn’t be THAT suprising. The job announcement (PDF) mentions that an appreciation for poker is helpful. And we’re guessing that the secretary-cum-escort has some familiarity with that game — or a certain variant thereof.
Sadly, however, it turns out that there is no relation between these two events. According to a source at the firm, “this opening is completely unrelated to that situation..”
2. We believe our source. We’ve learned that the Akin Gump temptress worked for someone even more senior at the firm — and even more powerful.
We have confirmed, with knowledgeable sources, what was previously rumored in reader comments. The Akin Gump Escort worked for John M. Dowd, the high-powered head of the firm’s criminal litigation group. From his firm bio:
Mr. Dowd has prosecuted and defended significant criminal matters at trial and in parallel proceedings before Congress and regulatory agencies for more than 30 years. His practice focuses on the trial of complex civil and criminal cases.
Mr. Dowd is noted for his representation of a U.S. district judge, a former U.S. attorney and two U.S. senators. In addition, he represented a U.S. governor in a lengthy, high-profile criminal trial involving 23 counts charging false statements, wire fraud and attempted extortion.
A judge, a U.S. attorney, some senators? YAWN. John Dowd currently represents one of Above the Law’s favorite celebrities: MONICA GOODLING!!!
Does this mean that telephone and/or face-to-face conversations took place between (1) the Magnificent Monica Goodling, of U.S. Attorneygate fame, and (2) the Akin Gump Escort? Presumably Monica Goodling had to interact with the Akin Gump Escort, whenever she called John Dowd on the phone, or came to his office for a meeting.
Please excuse us for a moment. Our head is about to explode, due to fabulosity overload!!!
More discussion, after the jump.
- Akin Gump, Dewey Ballantine, Dewy Orifice, Eliot Spitzer, Kramer Levin, Laurence Tribe, Milberg Weiss, Musical Chairs, New Jersey, State Judges, Thomas Goldstein, White House Counsel, White-Collar Crime
It has been a while since our last round-up of notable moves within the legal profession. So there’s a lot to report today:
Law Firm to… Prison?
* Former Milberg Weiss name partner Steven Schulman resigned from the firm to pursue “new ventures.” The most important of these “ventures” will surely be fighting federal charges of making illegal payments to plaintiffs in past cases.
Law Firms to In-House:
* Securities lawyer Stephen Cutler is leaving his partnership at WilmerHale to become general counsel of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the banking giant. From a tipster who works in securities law: “This is a big deal.”
Colleagues of Cutler described the JP Morgan gig to the WSJ Law Blog as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. Translation: Who wouldn’t want to make mid- instead of low-seven-figures?
* Another WilmerHale departure: J. Kevin McCarthy is taking over as top lawyer of the Cowen Group, an investment bank.
Government to Private Sector:
* Former New Jersey Chief Justice Deborah Poritz joins the Princeton office of Drinker Biddle & Reath, as of counsel. She stepped down from the New Jersey Supreme Court in October, after reaching the mandatory retirement age.
* David Nocenti, current counsel to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, will become counsel to the governor effective January 1.
* Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe, the renowned constitutional scholar and SCOTUS litigator, is entering into a consulting arrangement with Akin Gump.
Akin Gump is developing a Supreme Court practice. Earlier this year, they added young SCOTUS superstar Tom Goldstein to their line-up.
* Securities-enforcement lawyer Chuck Davidow, to Paul Weiss (DC), from WilmerHale.
Another loss for WilmerHale — on top of the previously reported departure of Paul Eckert for the White House Counsel’s Office.
Why are so many partners leaving WilmerHale? A Hillary Clinton administration is still two years away.
* IP lawyer Joseph Gioconda, to DLA Piper (New York), from Kirkland & Ellis.
* Corporate lawyer Eric Lerner, to Kramer Levin, from Katten Muchin Rosenman.
* Tax lawyer Thomas Giegerich, to McDermott Will & Emery (NY), from Dewey Ballantine (about to merge with Orrick to form Dewy Orifice).
* Bryan Cave: Eleven new partners. Names here.
Due to the sheer number of links today, we’ve placed them after the jump.
And they agreed to hear two other cases: a taxpayer lawsuit, and an appeal involving the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. Control your excitement, people.
Tom Goldstein is a bit peeved at how late the Court is granting certiorari. This leaves relatively little time between the cert grant and the argument, which has unfortunate consequences:
The failure to adapt the briefing schedule to the smaller size of the Court’s docket produces expedited briefs that are less thorough and helpful to the Justices and creates a recurring cycle in which it is necessary to apply still more expedited schedules.
But we’re not shedding tears for the attorneys whose cases get granted. The opportunity to brief and argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court is once-in-a-lifetime experience. Suck it up and deal, people.
(Of course, Goldstein — a veteran Supreme Court litigator — probably doesn’t quite the same thrill from strutting his stuff at One First Street as SCOTUS virgins.)
Supreme Court Takes ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ Case [New York Times]
Court grants three cases [SCOTUSblog]
An Update on the State of the Docket [SCOTUSblog]
- Antonin Scalia, Benchslaps, Federal Circuit, Intellectual Property, John Roberts, Patents, SCOTUS, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court, Thomas Goldstein
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of KSR International v. Teleflex. Here’s our quick-and-dirty summary of the proceedings.
Subject Matter / Question Presented: To qualify for patent protection, an invention must be novel, useful, and not “obvious” to a person of “ordinary skill” in the field. So how do you determine “obviousness” when you have an invention that combines already-existing products? And is the Federal Circuit’s three-part “teaching-suggestion-motivation” test for obviousness a bunch of moronic nonsense?
From the NYT:
When [veteran SCOTUS litigator Tom] Goldstein noted that “every single major patent bar association in the country has filed on our side,” the chief justice interjected: “Well, which way does that cut? That just indicates that this is profitable for the patent bar.” And when Mr. Goldstein referred to experts who had testified that the Teleflex patent was not obvious, the chief justice asked: “Who do you get to be an expert to tell you something’s not obvious? I mean, the least insightful person you can find?”
From the Legal Times:
“Three imponderable nouns,” is how Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the test, also calling it “gobbledygook” for good measure.
Likely Outcome: The Federal Circuit will probably get benchslapped by the SCOTUS. As Tony Mauro notes:
[W]hen Justice Stephen Breyer said he had read the briefs in the case “15 times” and still could not understand the “motivation” prong of the test, Scalia chimed in, “Like Justice Breyer, I don’t understand.”
The implied message to the Federal Circuit seemed to be: If two of the brainier justices on the Supreme Court don’t have a clue what you are talking about, a new test might be in order.
For those of you looking for a substantive, eyewitness account of the argument, we reprint below the report of Joseph (Jay) R. DelMaster, Jr., a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in Washington. His account includes advice about how to proceed in patent prosecutions while we await the Supreme Court’s decision.
Check it out, after the jump.