* Oh good, Cully says pro bono is ok again. [Washington Post; Washington Post (letter to the editor) via WSJ Law Blog]
* “Two things made Christopher Willever’s drunken burglary of a Tobacco Hut even worse as he crawled across the store floor — a lousy belt and his camera-loving backside.” [MSNBC]
* U.S. Attorneys’ increasing rate of attrition. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog (departures generally); WSJ Law Blog (Kevin Ryan)]
* Tennessee is tennetaxin’ illegal drugs. [Time]
* Time for new business cards and letterhead over at Wiley Rein
& Fielding [Legal Times]
* The mystery raised here has been answered. Richard Posner isn’t the only federal government official who likes to blog. [Opinion Juris]
* Gay Sullivan & Cromwell partner David Braff, to the New York Times: “I’ve been openly gay since I arrived at this firm in 1984. There’s absolutely no atmosphere of hostility toward gay people here.”
[New York Times via DealBook]
* The fight over whether Judge Stephen S. Trott’s seat on the Ninth Circuit belongs to Idaho or California has been resolved — for now. [How Appealing]
U.S. Attorneys Offices
- 9th Circuit, Aaron Charney, Drugs, Gay, Judicial Nominations, Law Firm Names, Morning Docket, Tax Law, U.S. Attorneys Offices
* Oh good, Cully says pro bono is ok again. [Washington Post; Washington Post (letter to the editor) via WSJ Law Blog]
- Crime, Duke Lacrosse Team Rape Case, Federal Government, Federal Judges, Guantanamo Bay, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Michael Nifong, Morning Docket, Politics, State Judges, U.S. Attorneys Offices, War on Terror
* “Utah’s highest court says don’t diss the judiciary, or else it might diss-miss your case.” [How Appealing]
* Major legal issues continue to arise at Gitmo. [Washington Post]
* Libby trial jury selection should take a few quick…months. [MSNBC]
* Should district judges appoint prosecutors? [New York Times via Concurring Opinions]
* North Carolina’s Attorney General, Roy Cooper, answers Mike Nifong’s cry for help. [New York Times]
The Bush administration has quietly asked San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, best known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, to resign her post, a law enforcement official said.
Lam, a Bush appointee who took the helm in 2002, was targeted because of job performance issues – in particular that she failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority, said the official, who declined to be identified because Lam has yet to step down.
But there may be some personality issues here too:
Lam has had high-profile successes during her tenure, such as the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery case – but she alienated herself from bosses at the Justice Department because she is outspoken and independent, said local lawyers familiar with her policies.
If true, this is troubling. The DOJ needs more, not fewer, outspoken minority women. And if the powers-that-be can put up with Eumi Choi and Shanetta Cutlar, surely they can stomach Carol Lam.
Two good quotes re: Lam’s being canned for not stressing immigration offenses enough. First, from Michael Attanasio, a criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor:
“This office has clearly made a priority of investigating and prosecuting white collar offenses and has had occasional success doing so. One would think that would be valued by any administration, even if it meant fewer resources were devoted to routine and repetitive border crimes.”
“Routine and repetitive border crimes” — nice. (Although modifying the reference to “success” with “occasional” was kinda catty.)
And from Professor Mario Conte, former chief of Federal Defenders of San Diego Inc.:
“What do they want her to do, lock up Mexico?”
No, not necessary. But if she could put up a big wall, that might be nice.
Lam Is Asked To Step Down [San Diego Union-Tribune via Talking Points Memo]
Carol Lam bio [U.S. Attorney's Office (S.D. Cal.)]
Carol C. Lam bio [Students & Leaders]
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey has some interesting and illustrious alumni.
Some are now distinguished federal judges, like Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Judge Maryanne Trump Barry (3d Cir.). Some are high-ranking officials in state government, like Stuart Rabner, the Attorney General of New Jersey. One works as a legal gossip blogger.
A criminal defense lawyer who worked as a federal and state prosecutor in New Jersey has been indicted for running a Manhattan-based escort service, Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced Wednesday.
The lawyer, Paul Bergrin, who has defended soldiers charged with committing abuses while in Iraq, was arraigned Wednesday on a fugitive warrant in Newark, N.J., and bail was set at $500,000.
No plea to the charges was entered, but Bergrin, 51, declined to waive extradition at the proceeding.
Bergrin is a well-known figure within Garden State legal circles. The Newark Star-Ledger accurately describes him as “a brash, high-powered defense attorney who courted controversy.” His clients ranged from defendants in the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal to rap star turned actress Queen Latifah.
We never had any personal dealings with Paul Bergrin when we were in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Many of our fellow AUSAs did, however, and he didn’t have the best reputation. Bergrin wasn’t viewed as the most trustworthy or upstanding of adversaries. He was the kind of defense lawyer who, if you had a meeting or telephone call with him, you’d want someone else in the meeting or on the call (in case there was ever any dispute over what transpired).
But we had no idea about Bergrin’s little sideline in the procurement business. For the details of this salacious story, keep on reading.
- Biglaw, Department of Justice, Dewey Ballantine, Federal Government, Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, LeBoeuf Lamb, Musical Chairs, S.D.N.Y., U.S. Attorneys Offices
A few of the more prominent moves within this noble profession:
From government to private sector:
* Former Interior Secretary Gale Norton is joining Royal Dutch Shell, as general counsel for its “unconventional resources division” (e.g., extracting oil from “oil shale” and “extra heavy oil” — don’t ask us, we don’t know).
(A WSJ Law Blog commenter sniffs: “One would think that she could have secured a more lucrative and high profile job, given her resume.” We agree somewhat on the “high profile” part, but don’t know enough about the filthy lucre associated with this gig.)
* Former assistant U.S. attorney Mauro Wolfe, with whom we used to work, to Dickstein Shapiro. He will be a partner in the firm’s securities practice, in the New York office.
* Mark Paoletta and Andrew Snowdon, to the D.C. office of Dickstein Shapiro (as partner and of counsel, respectively). Paoletta previously served as served as Chief Counsel for Oversight and Investigations on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; Snowdon previously served as a lawyer on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. They join the government law & strategy practice.
* The United States Attorney for Connecticut, Kevin O’Connor, has been named associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. His DOJ work will focus on violent crime, gangs, and guns. O’Connor plans to retain his post as U.S. Attorney for at least six months.
* M&A lawyer Michael Aiello, to Weil Gotshal, from Dewey Ballantine (as previously noted).
* Finance lawyer Philip Haber, to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham, from Nixon Peabody.
* Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft: Seven new partners. Names here (PDF).
* LeBoeuf Lamb: Five new partners. Names here.
* Patterson Belknap: White-collar defense lawyer Daniel Ruzumna, promoted from counsel to partner. Ruzumna served for six years as an AUSA in the legendary Southern District of New York. His final post in the S.D.N.Y. was Acting Chief of the Major Crimes Unit.
The voluminous links are collected after the jump.
We have been begging you for dirty laundry to air about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco (Northern District of California). From what we hear, the high-profile office is in a state of turmoil. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi Choi has been trying to quell a line-assistant rebellion that has been described as “the best-coordinated insurgency outside of Iraq.”
We don’t care whether you’re part of the pro-Eumi Choi or anti-Eumi Choi faction. We’re not taking sides here. We just want the inside scoop on the internal warfare, plotting and backstabbing going on over there right now. It’s for entertainment purposes only (because few things are more entertaining than workplace drama).
Thus far, you’ve been holding out on us. That’s okay; we have other sources. Like judges’ chambers:
I worked for a judge in the Northern District of California, where [U.S. Attorney] Kevin Ryan’s main office is. Although I haven’t had any personal contact with the USA [himself], I remember the AUSAs and their law externs who would appear before my judge were particularly unruly, talkative and disrespectful in the court.
A number of times, my judge would be trying to talk in court over the hum of their own personal discussions. When it got out of hand, he would stop, glare at them over his glasses, and it would be about a minute before they realized that the judge wanted them to shut up.
Other times, the judge would have to say, “Counsel!” Then the oblivious AUSAs would look up like contrite 5th graders. They also argued a lot amongst themselves in the hallways and, indeed, acted very much like children.
So it’s not just “line AUSAs vs. the front office”; the line assistants can’t even get along with each other. Not good.
We remain interested in goings-on over at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the N.D. Cal. Please email us with any information you might have. Thanks.
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
What Part of “Fabulous” Do You Not Understand?
Cuomo, the eldest son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo, named Robin Baker as his executive deputy attorney general for criminal justice. Baker was the deputy chief of appeals for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan Southern District of New York. She has worked in that office since 1996, prosecuting gangs, terrorism, organized crime, narcotics, and other criminal cases.
Eric Corngold was named executive deputy attorney general for economic justice. He has served as chief assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan since 2005. He headed the office’s business and securities fraud unit from 1999 to 2005 and its general crimes unit from 1997 to 1999.
Baker and Corngold are impressive hires. They’re veterans of the S.D.N.Y. and E.D.N.Y., two of the most prestigious prosecutor’s offices in the country (recent setbacks notwithstanding).*
Correction: Thanks to “Ferris Reynolds” for this observation. Contrary to the AP report, Corngold was an AUSA in the Eastern District of New York, not the Southern District of New York. See, e.g., here and here.
Two other key Cuomo appointments announced today: Mylan Denerstein, head of legal affairs for the New York City Fire Department, was named executive deputy attorney general for social justice; and Jenny Rivera, of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, was named special deputy attorney general for civil rights.
* There appears to be a mini-trend of tristate attorneys general looking to federal prosecutors’ offices for talent. On the other side of the Hudson, Stuart Rabner, New Jersey’s new attorney general, has recruited from his former office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark. For example, he picked John Vazquez, one of the U.S.A.O.’s most promising young prosecutors, to serve as his Special Assistant for criminal justice matters.
Cuomo Hires A Staff [The Politicker via The Daily Politics]
Cuomo names four appointments to attorney general’s office [Associated Press via Newsday]
Earlier: Coming Soon: Andy’s Kids
- Asians, Eumi Choi, Federal Government, Litigatrix, U.S. Attorneys Offices, Vicious Infighting, You Go Girl
We enjoy reading your comments. Well, some of them. See, e.g., here, here, and here.
But some we find rather mystifying. Like this comment on How Yummy Is Eumi?, our profile of high-powered federal prosecutor Eumi Choi, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Commenter “Barbara” wrote:
This post, like the SF Weekly article it references, was planted by a group of disgruntled (and racist) former and current AUSAs who constitute the best-coordinated insurgency outside of Iraq. They are a group of uppity Caucasians hell-bent on controlling the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They hate Eumi because she is Asian — and ergo, is not one of them.
Note how this posting focuses on Eumi’s race. Many of the insurgents’ private talk about Eumi is also borderline racist — e.g., referring her as “Dragon Lady.” Interestingly, these insurgent AUSAs who now whine about having to “follow directions” were themselves the most autocratic dictators around during the Shapiro/Mueller administration, when THEY were in power.
Even more interesting is how very little anyone discusses the impoverished morals of the insurgent AUSAs. Four of them had affairs with other AUSAs while married to other people. One of the harshest critics of Eumi and Kevin Ryan left his pregnant wife for another AUSA. Everyone is so fascinated by the fact of a powerful Asian female being under attack that nobody — least of all the legal press, which is incapable of anything other than acting as a mouthpiece for the disgruntled — has paid any heed to the fact that the Caucasian stonethrowers are themselves living in brittle glass houses.
We don’t understand this commenter’s ire towards our post. We praised Eumi Choi as a “tough, smart, no-nonsense” prosecutor, as well as a “strong Asian woman.” We also described her as “fabulous” and “yummy.” What part of that was unclear?
(Also, for the record, we’re Asian ourselves — and were raised by a mom who’s a lot like Eumi Choi. So we obviously have no problems with powerful Asian females or Asian lawyers in positions of power.)
Despite our issues with this comment, we did enjoy the dirt it dished out — especially the allegations of extramarital affairs galore. The U.S.A.O. for the N.D. Cal. sounds as incestuous, fractious, and trashily dysfunctional as “Melrose Place.”
If you have more juicy gossip about the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco — concerning Eumi Choi, her adversaries, or the battles going on between them — please do share with us.
(Hint to people who want to buy us a Christmas gift: the first season of “Melrose Place” is now out on DVD.)
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
This post is even more random than usual. But it’s Friday, and Mother Nature is going bonkers — a major snowstorm in the Midwest, an epic typhoon in the Philippines — so indulge us.
Some time ago, we characterized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California (San Francisco) as “well-regarded.” But then John of The Legal Reader helpfully informed us that the office has slipped in recent years. He brought to our attention this fascinating feature, describing problems that have plagued the office under United States Attorney Kevin Ryan.
So we read the article, which was most enlightening. And after reading it, we were left with one conclusion:
EUMI CHOI IS FABULOUS.
Who is Eumi Choi? She’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District, the right-hand woman of U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan. But it seems that, despite her nominal status as Ryan’s second-in-command, Choi is actually running the show, cracking the whip over the assistant U.S. attorneys while Ryan hides out in his office.
If someone were to make a movie about the N.D. Cal. office, Eumi Choi would be the “scene stealing” character. The role of Eumi would turn into a surprise star vehicle for Lucy Liu, en route to an improbable Oscar nomination.
We explain why Eumi is so yummy, after the jump.