Longtime readers of Above the Law will recall the colorful figure of Shanetta Cutlar. She was a high-powered Department of Justice lawyer who was known for her high-handed treatment of DOJ subordinates and colleagues.
(Read the blockquote in this post to get a sense of her antics, or read this juicy letter to former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, in which ex-Cutlar underling Ty Clevenger describes the “atmosphere of fear and paranoia” created by Shanetta.)
We haven’t covered Shanetta Cutlar since March 2010, when she stepped down from her post as chief of the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”). After she left SPL, she took a post in the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the Office of Justice Programs (“OJP”). This move was interpreted by some DOJ insiders as a form of exile for the controversial Cutlar.
We haven’t heard anything about her since her move to OJP — until now….
On Friday, we broke the news that Shanetta Cutlar will be stepping down as head of the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”), in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. This news was met with rejoicing in some quarters; Cutlar was not universally loved as a boss.
Much of our past coverage of Shanetta Cutlar has been somewhat negative (reflecting what we’ve heard from our sources). But there are some dissenting opinions — and we’re happy to present one to you today.
After our Friday report, we heard from Robert Driscoll, a former Justice Department official who is now a partner in the Washington office of Alston & Bird. During his time at the DOJ, he worked with Cutlar — and was very impressed by her work as an attorney. Driscoll told us:
I was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division from 2001-2003. In that position, I played a part in Shanetta getting the post as Chief. Whatever her strengths or weakness as a manager may have been (and I had heard she could be mercurial), I never doubted that she was a talented and extremely dedicated lawyer. Indeed, it was these characteristics that caused us to appoint Shanetta as Chief. She certainly was not placed in that position for having any conservative credentials.
More warm words for Shanetta Cutlar, after the jump.
Here’s a brief update on Shanetta Cutlar, one of our favorite figures here at ATL. For those of you not familiar with Cutlar — who heads the Special Litigation Section in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, where she has presided over what her critics have described as a reign of terror — page through our archives (or just read the blockquote in this post).
Yesterday afternoon, Cutlar convened a section meeting where she announced that she will be stepping down as head of the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”). According to attendees, Cutlar explained that she had lost the confidence of the Attorney General and the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.
Cutlar is also leaving SPL, but staying on at the DOJ. Where is she headed next?
Department of Justice official Brad Schlozman — who currently serves as Associate Counsel to the Director, in the Executive Office for United States Attorneys — is about to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His testimony is part of a panel entitled “Preserving Prosecutorial Independence: Is the Department of Justice Politicizing the Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys?”
Maybe we’ll tune in, at least for a few minutes; but we don’t expect to watch the entire proceedings. Brad Schlozman is no Monica Goodling. And we can barely pronounce his last name.
On Friday night, in preparation for today’s session, the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) sent the Republican members of the committee a list of proposed “softball” or friendly questions for Schlozman. This question caught our eye:
Clevenger, you may recall, has raised allegations about the politicization of hiring at Main Justice. But he may be best known to ATL readers as a source for stories about that delicious DOJ diva, Shanetta Cutlar (about whom we’ve heard nothing new, sadly).
By the way, in case you’re wondering, question #5 wasn’t well-received by GOP staffers on Capitol Hill. We hear that the Republican staffers “are offended that DOJ expects them to do its political dirty work.”
We are favorably disposed towards former Justice Department lawyer Ty Clevenger. We owe him a debt of gratitude, since he’s the person who first told us about Shanetta Cutlar — the crazy-ass colorful chief of the DOJ’s Special Litigation Section, and one of our favorite people to write about here at ATL.
Now Ty Clevenger is making waves once again — and some of you aren’t sure if it’s all that favorable. Several of you emailed us about his latest exploits. This message is representative:
Ty Clevenger is in the news again, this time making accusations about the politicization of the hiring process at the DOJ. See here and here.
Between his law school activities, Shanetta Cutlar, and this, he’s beginning to look like a little tattletale to me….
Tattletale? Or, more charitably, a person of great honesty and integrity (perhaps too much for his own good)? Or, more cynically, a shameless seeker of attention?
We don’t know Clevenger personally, so we won’t opine. But the truth probably lies somewhere in between. Many great whisteblowers throughout history have had mixed motivations — such as a desire for the truth to come to light, and a desire for personal fame and/or fortune.
But we can say this. If we ever hang out with Ty Clevenger, we sure as hell won’t jaywalk with him by our side. Or try to sneak through the express lane at the supermarket with more than 15 items. Congress probes allegations of politicized hiring [CNN] Congress considers broadening Justice Department inquiry [McClatchy] Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Ty Clevenger (scroll down)
Ty Clevenger, a former attorney in the Special Litigation Section (“SPL”) of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is the one who got the ball rolling with respect to colorful anecdotes about Shanetta Cutlar, the charismatic and strong-willed chief of the Section.
Clevenger sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty raising concerns about Cutlar’s leadership of SPL. Shortly thereafter, Clevenger was effectively fired by Cutlar the next day.
As for Clevenger’s letter, the DAG assigned it to Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, for a response. Earlier this month, Clevenger received the following from Wan Kim:
Letters to McDonald’s, complaining about insufficient mintiness in Shamrock Shakes,* receive responses evincing greater concern.
Now we understand why Shanetta Cutlar was comfortable enough in her position to wear a tiara to a recent meeting of DOJ section chiefs. We predict she will remain in power at SPL long after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has left the building (which may not be saying much — but you get our point).
* Yes, Shamrock Shakes are back! We enjoyed one in Miami earlier this week.
We feel like we’re running an online group therapy session. Pretty much every week, another ex-employee of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL) writes in to us, so he or she can vent their justifiable frustrations whine about the horrific challenging experience of working under super-diva Shanetta Y. Cutlar. Writing in to ATL seems to be a therapeutic experience for these people.
As we mentioned yesterday, one former SPL employee sent us a copy of their completed exit survey. We reprint it after the jump. But first, here’s an introduction to what you’re about to read:
I quit SPL largely because of Shanetta’s mismanagement of the section. I’m attaching a copy I kept of my exit survey — though some of the fields did not print in full, and I redacted some fields to remove info related to my personal identity.
Feel free to post any portions you’d like…. You might want to consider submitting a FOIA request for a full copy of this and any other exit surveys or other information related to evaluations / criticisms of Shanetta if you haven’t already done so.
In addition to the written exit survey, I had an exit interview with the front office when I left (which was over two years ago), and I stressed the issues people were having with Shanetta during that interview. So the front office has been aware of the issues with her at least since then, if not earlier.
Interesting. According to this tipster, the folks in the “front office” — i.e., the DOJ powers-that-be — have been aware of Shanetta Cutlar’s distinctive management style for quite some time.
Fortunately, they have had the wisdom to leave well enough alone — despite complaints from folks who just aren’t up to the task of enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws. May Shanetta Cutlar reign forever over the Special Litigation Section!!!
Excerpts from this disgruntled lawyer’s exit questionnaire, after the jump.
We’re so excited. Our girlfriend SYC has made the big leagues! Shanetta Y. Cutlar, the successful and high-powered lawyer who oversees the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, is the subject of an article in today’s Legal Times. We’re praised her profusely in these pages; but we’re glad that she’s finally getting her due in the mainstream media.
Ty Clevenger, 37, a former Washington Times reporter and line attorney in the section who was fired in October, has accused veteran Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar of being “abusive toward attorneys and support staff,” specifically those hired by Schlozman.
Among Clevenger’s allegations: Secretaries were ordered not to assist him with an eight-hour typing project, another attorney was publicly berated for using a paper clip rather than a binder clip on a document, and an intern was reprimanded for not greeting Cutlar while passing her in the hallway.
In his whistleblower complaint, Clevenger included a copy of a statement by the intern, Deborah Meiners, 24, to a DOJ ombudsman about the hallway incident.
“I did get the sense that this was a common occurrence,” says Meiners, now a third-year law student, of her treatment.
For those of you who have been wondering if Shanetta Cutlar is aware of her newfound celebrity, the answer is probably yes — now that the Legal Times has contacted her office for comment:
Cutlar’s office referred questions to a DOJ spokeswoman, who issued a statement saying the department is looking into the allegations.
Interesting. Does anyone know what “looking into the allegations” entails?
Is the DOJ conducting a full-blown internal investigation of SPL? Or is it just AAG Wan Kim getting on the phone to Shanetta and saying, “This is all silliness that I don’t need to pay attention to, right?”
We hope the latter. As we’ve previously pointed out, Shanetta Cutlar is just doing her job — and exceptionally well, at that. We hope that a bunch of whiners and crybabies don’t interfere with SYC’s longstanding efforts to vindicate federal civil rights laws on behalf of the disabled, prisoners, and other groups who can’t stand up for themselves.
To Shanetta Cutlar: Congratulations on your shout-out in the Legal Times! Whistleblower Complaint Filed Against DOJ Civil Rights Division [Legal Times]
We like to keep things light around here. As far as we’re concerned, pretty much everything is entertainment. And if it’s not, then we’re not interested in covering it.
This is the spirit in which we’ve been writing about Shanetta Cutlar, the amusingly idiosyncratic chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section (SPL). But we’re getting concerned that the story might take a more serious turn.
Here are two things we’ve heard lately:
1. The mainstream media, in the form of the Legal Times, is sniffing around the story. They may be interested in covering it.
2. Staffers from the House Judiciary Committee have contacted Ty Clevenger, the former DOJ lawyer who initially blew the whistle on La Shanetta. They may be conducting further investigation into goings-on over at SPL.
Covering the shenanigans of Shanetta has been great fun. We sincerely hope that the MSM and the House Judiciary Committee don’t hijack this story and turn it into some sober expose about DOJ abuses of power. Yawn.
We steer the discussion back in the direction of frivolity and fun, after the jump.
Amidst all of the hoopla over associate pay raises and Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, some of you have requested updates about Shanetta Y. Cutlar. We’re happy to report that we have some new material for you.
(For those of you who are new to ATL, Shanetta Cutlar is the deliciously imperious, ruler-wielding diva who heads the Special Litigation Section, in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. To get a sense of Shanetta Cutlar, in case you haven’t read our prior coverage of her, see here, here, or here.)
We hope that Shanetta Cutlar has been pleased by our coverage of her — ’cause if she’s not, she might put a curse on us. Here’s the latest tip about her:
Those who worship together, work together. Principal Deputy Tammie Gregg, who was promoted by Shanetta, as well as the Supervisor of the Investigators, whom Shanetta refers to as her “spiritual advisor,” all attend the same Church. Both were promoted over others more experienced than they, and obviously for their personal connection to Shanetta.
Shanetta is very superstitious. She had her office “excised” of evil spirits and ill will toward her, as evidenced by the cross etched faintly, in some sort of oil, on the upper right hand corner of her door. Most recently, an escapee [from the Section] said she told them that she was “gathering her protections.”
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.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
The proper hair styling product might just be the only thing standing between you and your dream job. And the best way to find what works for you is to try the best stuff on the market. Join Birchbox Man for $20 a month and you’ll get customized shipments of the best grooming and lifestyle gear on the market every month—everything from haircare and shaving supplies to style accessories and tech gadgets.
As the leading discovery commerce platform, Birchbox is redefining the retail process by offering consumers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best grooming and lifestyle products out there. It’s a full 360-degree process: try, learn, buy. Once you sign up and fill out your profile, head over to Birchbox Man’s online magazine to find article and video tutorials on how to get the most out your monthly box products. Pick up full-size versions of anything you like in the Birchbox Shop and earn points for every purchase.
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!