U.S. Attorneys Offices

Tom O'Brien Thomas O'Brien Paul Hastings.JPGThomas O’Brien is the former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. He recently joined Paul Hastings, which trumpeted his arrival in a press release. Tom O’Brien is a public figure — he used to be the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate — so he’s used to a little public scrutiny.
But O’Brien couldn’t have been prepared for what happened when his girlfriend’s estranged husband took an unauthorized stroll through her email inbox. The husband found emails between O’Brien and his wife, and they didn’t make him happy.
Instead of handling the situation like a rational adult, the husband — we’ll call him “Ken” — decided to bombard the professional networks of both O’Brien and his wife (also an attorney) with the “pillow talk” emails he discovered. Ken attempted to cast the relationship between O’Brien and his (Ken’s) wife as an affair.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Back in 2008, the New York Times reported on a husband’s similar vendetta against a successful Wall Street banker, carried out online. Earlier this year, as Above the Law readers may recall, a cuckolded husband emailed sexting messages between his wife and a White & Case attorney to all of the lawyers at White & Case in Miami.
Ken took this aggressive strategy one insane step further, apparently emailing every lawyer he could think of. You may have already received Ken’s emails, especially if you’re in California, from Ken himself or via email forward.
Is spamming an entire professional network the new revenge of the spurned lover? Are lawyers, as members of a profession that is surprisingly small and highly reputation-conscious, especially vulnerable to this tactic? Does this approach actually work?
After the jump, let’s look at the offense and the (over)reaction.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former U.S. Attorney v. Angry Estranged Husband
(And some reflections on reputation in the internet age.)”

Heller Ehrman small logo.jpg* There was serious shadiness at dissolved firm Heller Ehrman. Information coming to light during bankruptcy proceedings suggests that, in 2008, the firm distributed $9 million in profits that it did not have and then covered it up. [The Recorder]
* Paul Hastings nabs Central District of California U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien. [Associated Press]
* Canadian inmate wants cruel and unusual punishment. [Courthouse News Service]
* Kudos to Preet Bharara, the new U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Ashby Jones wonders whether he’ll “be able to play it straight as a prosecutor, and extricate himself from the muddy world of politics.” [New York Times via WSJ Law Blog]
* The system of justice in Myanmar lacks some justness. [CNN]
* Not so fast. Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York refuses to sign off on the Bank of America – SEC settlement. [Washington Post]
* Some tips on using a coffeehouse as your office. [My Shingle via ABA Journal]

maury povich 8th amendment.jpg* I would have no problem at all if potential SCOTUS justices had to answer this questionnaire and those answers had to be published and discussed during the confirmation hearing. [Daily News]
* Married men looking for sex slaves might want to consider the words of the wise Falstaff. Discretion is the better part of valor. [True/Slant]
* New Hampshire Governor John Lynch has some ideas about reelection religion. [Law Dork 2.0]
* New U.S. Attorneys have been named for New York and New Jersey. I suggest laid off associates start networking with these guys now. Remember, today’s U.S. Attorneys are tomorrow’s rainmakers. [City Room]
* Isn’t being forced to watch Maury Povich a clear violation of the 8th Amendment? I don’t mean liberal “whaaa, when I go to prison, sometimes they give me bad touches” violation. I mean a straight up, dress you in a bonnet and make you watch surveillance DVDs of your mom having sex with your stepdad, violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. [Popsquire]


1081067_dumbbell.jpg* Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias speaks out against the DOJ’s ACORN probe. [Talking Points Memo]

* Judges in China refuse to take lawsuits over tainted milk. [Associated Press]

* They may cause rashes. And brain cancer. But we still love them. [Reuters]

* Grand jury investigations for Lehman, in New York and New Jersey. [CNN Money]

* Pfizer settles its painkiller suits for $894 million. [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

* 24 Hour Fitness hates poor people. [Courthouse News Service]

* David Lat was in Charlottesville this week talking to UVA law students about job hunting. He advised going off the beaten track. [Virginia Law]

Joseph Russoniello Joe Russoniello Cooley Godward Kronish Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgVeteran litigator Joseph Russoniello, recently nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, previously served as senior counsel in the San Francisco office of Cooley Godward Kronish. If he’s confirmed, which is looking likely, one would expect him to take a big pay cut as he moves from private practice to government service. The current Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, earned $1,993,367 over 21 months while at Patterson Belknap; now, as AG, he takes home $186,600 a year.
But Joe Russoniello won’t be taking such a huge pay cut. A reader observes:

Buried at the end of a Recorder article (subscription) about a DOJ report about Joe Russoniello’s possible conflicts or interest due to his $1.5 million stock portfolio is Joe’s last year’s compensation from Cooley Godward. This is the part that I found interesting. Why? Because it’s so low.

What do you think Cooley Godward was paying the ex-U.S. Attorney to serve as counsel to the firm? Half a million? A million? No…. $244,802!

In light of that paycheck — which, while handsome by normal standards, is a pittance by Biglaw ones — we hope that Russoniello’s Cooley gig was super-cushy, with minimal billing required. His paycheck is pretty much equal to that of a third-year associate at Cravath, all in (base of $180,000, year-end bonus of $45,000, and special bonus of $20,000). But how many Cravath third-years can claim to have served as U.S. Attorney in a major city for eight years, as Joseph Russoniello did (1982-1990)?
Fighting Crime May Not Pay [The Recorder (subscription)]
Taking Stock of The DOJ’s Next Targets [Legal Pad]

D Kyle Sampson Kyle Sampson Kyle D Sampson Kyle Samson Above the Law blog.jpgOf all the characters in the U.S. Attorney firings drama, Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was not our favorite. When he testified on Capitol Hill, he was earnest, sweaty, and decidedly non-fabulous — unlike Monica Goodling, who took the Senate Judiciary Committee by storm with a dazzling performance.
But even though his government service ended inauspiciously, Sampson has done just fine for himself. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Three Washington lawyers with Utah ties – including the chief of staff to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales – are joining the food and drug practice at the firm Hunton & Williams.

D. Kyle Sampson, a Cedar City native, was Gonzales’ chief of staff at the Justice Department until he resigned amid a controversy over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys, a move that spawned congressional investigations. Sampson, who compiled the list of attorneys who were fired, testified for hours before House and Senate committees in public hearings and private interviews.

Before joining the Justice Department he was an Associate Counsel to the President at the White House, was director of personnel for the Bush administration, and was an aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch on the Judiciary Committee. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Chicago University law school.

We wonder if the Mormon Mafia had a hand in his hiring. They are to the legal world what the Gay Mafia is to fashion!
Sampson, ex-aide to Gonzales, joins law firm [Salt Lake Tribune]

D Kyle Sampson Kyle Sampson Kyle D Sampson Kyle Samson Above the Law blog.jpgOf all the characters in the U.S. Attorney firings drama, Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was not our favorite. When he testified on Capitol Hill, he was earnest, sweaty, and decidedly non-fabulous — unlike Monica Goodling, who took the Senate Judiciary Committee by storm with a dazzling performance.
But even though his government service ended inauspiciously, Sampson has done just fine for himself. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Three Washington lawyers with Utah ties – including the chief of staff to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales – are joining the food and drug practice at the firm Hunton & Williams.

D. Kyle Sampson, a Cedar City native, was Gonzales’ chief of staff at the Justice Department until he resigned amid a controversy over the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys, a move that spawned congressional investigations. Sampson, who compiled the list of attorneys who were fired, testified for hours before House and Senate committees in public hearings and private interviews.

Before joining the Justice Department he was an Associate Counsel to the President at the White House, was director of personnel for the Bush administration, and was an aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch on the Judiciary Committee. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Chicago University law school.

We wonder if the Mormon Mafia had a hand in his hiring. They are to the legal world what the Gay Mafia is to fashion!
Sampson, ex-aide to Gonzales, joins law firm [Salt Lake Tribune]

Joseph Russoniello Joe Russoniello Cooley Godward Kronish Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgBack in June, we predicted that veteran litigator Joseph Russoniello, of Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco, would be nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District. Months later, no nominee has been named. As the folks over at Legal Pad noted last month, it’s a bit strange — especially since Ruossoniello’s background check was apparently completed some time ago.
Meanwhile, the office remains in the capable hands of the well-regarded Scott Schools, who will be officially appointed as interim United States Attorney later this week.
But don’t expect Schools to stick around forever. We hear that he’ll be heading over to take a high-level job at Main Justice (possibly in the Deputy Attorney General’s office).
It seems that Schools will be missed in the Northern District. From a source in the N.D. Cal.:

People seem to like him, and he makes an effort to get to know line AUSAs. He shows up at social events, like baby showers and happy hours, which I think is a huge change from former leadership.

If you have any info on these personnel changes, feel free to drop us a line. Thanks.
Northern District of California Announces Appointment of Scott N Schools as Interim United States Attorney [N.D. Cal.]
Say It Is (or Isn’t) So, Joe [Legal Pad]
Earlier: Musical Chairs: A New U.S. Attorney for San Francisco?
U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello? Not So Fast

Gibson Dunn Crutcher LLP Above the Law blog.JPGHere are some of the comments appended to our recent post about Gibson Dunn’s snazzy new website:

“I like the pictures on the main directory. Those are the best part. Except that they don’t have too many women, and one of the women is in a very high school girl peek-a-boo around the brick wall pose. They’d never put up a picture of a man doing that.”

“I agree… Shame on you, peek-a-boo posing Asian woman!”

“Uh, that ‘peek-a-boo posing Asian woman’ is Debra Yang, the former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, whom GDC allegedly paid a $1 mil signing bonus. She can peek-a-boo around whatever the hell she wants to peek-a-boo around.”

“Debra Yang’s picture’s been taken down.”

“Wait, the peek-a-boo is still there. Now spotted in the mix over at Practices. Please, GDC, put up a different picture of Ms. Yang.”

Curious to see what all the fuss is about? Check out the controversial photo of Gibson Dunn partner (and former U.S. attorney) Debra Wong Yang, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Playing ‘Peekaboo’ with Debra Wong Yang of Gibson Dunn”

Michael Mukasey Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve done relatively little about the nomination of former judge Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. While the WSJ Law Blog was dredging up his third-grade book reports — okay, not quite, but some college newspaper articles that he may or may not have written — we didn’t have much. But now we’d like to atone for that, with a piece we just did for the New York Observer.
We speculate that Michael Mukasey might be in D.C. longer than he might expect, especially if his good friend Rudy Giuliani wins the presidency (and possibly even if fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton does). We discuss how he might have come to be picked as AG, despite not being a D.C. denizen like Ted Olson, Laurence Silberman, or George Terwilliger:

Mr. Mukasey was simply more of a known quantity to the White House than the typical Beltway outsider. The White House staff includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys from Manhattan, as well as other ex-New York lawyers who regularly practiced before Mukasey as a judge. Among the New Yorkers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Mukasey enjoyed great respect, and was viewed as ideologically acceptable too, especially on war on terror issues.

The rest of the piece, including a discussion of what might be called the Curse of the Southern District (from President Bush’s point of view), is available here.
Mr. Mukasey Goes to Washington [New York Observer]
An Old Friend Joins Giuliani in a Spotlight [New York Times]

Page 8 of 171...456789101112...17