U.S. Attorneys Offices

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]

videotape.jpg
Billy Merck here, once again filling in for Lat while he squeezes out some more vacation before the summer gets away from us. We’ll be here today and Laurie Lin will be here tomorrow; Lat’s back next week.
We start today with an update on a case from Georgia with which you’re all probably at least a little familiar. We reported earlier here on the case of Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 years old. The Georgia statute under which he was convicted has since been amended to make the same offense a misdemeanor, but the change was not made retroactive to Wilson’s case.
On June 11, Wilson’s habeas corpus petition was granted on the basis that the 10-year sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment; as a result Wilson’s offense was changed to a misdemeanor, he was given credit for the more than two years already served in jail, and he would no longer have to register as a sex offender. Attorney General Thurbert Baker has appealed this decision, drawing criticism from many who question the need to keep Wilson in jail any longer than he has already been there.
Which leads us to the new part of the story. Douglas County District Attorney David McDade, who prosecuted the case against Wilson, has been there every step of the way to ensure not only that Wilson went to jail, but that he stayed there. When the state legislature considered bills last year and this year that would have amended the statute again to make it apply retroactively to Wilson’s case, McDade was there lobbying against the bills.
And evidently, as part of his efforts, McDade has made available to legislators and seemingly anyone else who wanted one copies of the videtape of the sexual encounter that got Wilson convicted. Many in Georgia have begun to question why McDade has been so free with the distribution of the tape, particularly since the distribution, receipt, and possession of it appears to violate Georgia and federal law.
More on McDade’s Nifong-like behavior after the jump.
Related:
Attorney general: Wilson ruling could free molesters [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Wilson’s legal tactics challenged[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Judge says no bond for Genarlow Wilson, cancels hearing[Fulton County Daily Report]
Sharpton embraces relatives at rally for Gernarlow Wilson[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
State Supreme Court moves up Genarlow Wilson hearing[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sex, Laws, and Videotape: Is David McDade The New Michael Nifong?”

Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgOkay, working at the U.S. Department of Justice may not be a party these days. But the recently announced, imminent departure of Assistant Attorney General Rachel L. Brand — her last day at the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy is July 9 — had nothing to do with recent controversies (contrary to some insinuations).
As tout le monde in D.C. legal circles knows, the fabulous Brand — known to some as the Prom Queen — was planning to step down for some time. The reason? She and her husband, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cohn, are expecting a baby boy next month.
The lede of this Reuters report, while technically accurate, is therefore misleading. Thankfully, the Washington Post was more accurate:

[T]he Justice Department announced that Rachel Brand, assistant attorney general for legal policy, is resigning….

Justice officials said she plans to leave July 9 and stay at home with her first child, due this summer.

Brand, who worked on the renewal of the USA Patriot Act last year and the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices in 2005, is not known to have played a direct role in the U.S. attorneys’ removal.

“[N]ot known to have played a direct role” — maybe because she didn’t? If she had, rest assured that Chuck & Friends would have invited her over to Capitol Hill for a televised chat.

[D]epartment officials have said that Gonzales’s former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, asked her whether she might want to replace a Michigan prosecutor who was forced out. Though interested at first, Brand did not apply for the job.

Yes, Brand shrewdly did not throw her hat into that ring. As we previously noted:

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy).

So what’s next for Rachel Brand (in addition to a bouncing baby boy)? She’s rumored to be meeting with various private law firms — and any of them would be lucky to snag this young legal superstar.
Brand has devoted the past six and a half years of her career to government service. She leaves the Bush Administration even more highly esteemed, on both sides of the aisle, than when she came in. This is no small feat, given the controversies that have shaken the DOJ, as well as the highly partisan atmosphere currently prevailing here in Washington.
We congratulate Rachel Brand on her successful leadership of the Office of Legal Policy, and we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors — including motherhood!
(Disclosure: We’d mention that we are friendly with Rachel Brand, but we know from past experience that many of you don’t like such disclaimers, which come across as shameless name-dropping. So we won’t.)
Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously identified Jonathan Cohn as Deputy Attorney General, rather than Deputy Assistant Attorney General (his correct title).
Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand Announces Departure [U.S. Dept. of Justice (press release)]
Bush Is Told to Justify Executive Privilege [Washington Post]
DOJ Loses Brand [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]
Seventh official quits Justice Department [Reuters]
Justice Department Official Resigns [Associated Press]
Earlier: Rachel Brand: The Prom Queen Stays Out of Trouble

Joseph Russoniello Joe Russoniello Cooley Godward Kronish Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgYesterday we passed along the rumor that Joseph Russoniello, of Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco, would be returning to a post he held years ago: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
We remain fairly confident in this tip. But for the record, there is nothing official to report just yet. Mr. Russoniello kindly got back to us, but only to advise that he has no comment at this time and can neither confirm nor deny that he has been offered the U.S. Attorney position.
Meanwhile, our friends over at Legal Pad picked up on our post. Check out their analysis, in which they refer to Russoniello as “the frontrunner” per “conventional wisdom,” by clicking here.
Russoniello Takes the U.S. Attorney Gig? [Legal Pad / Cal Law]
Earlier: Musical Chairs: A New U.S. Attorney for San Francisco?

Joseph Russoniello Joe Russoniello Cooley Godward Kronish Abovethelaw Above the Law online legal tabloid.jpgVeteran litigator Joseph Russoniello, of Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco, was recently rumored to be a contender for the post of U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.
We’re now hearing that the job — which Russoniello previously held, from 1982 to 1990 — may be his once again. From a tipster:

I have on good authority that Joe Russoniello was offered and accepted the US attorney position for the N. District of CA. I don’t think its been announced yet.

If Russoniello does get the job, it would be very “Fred Fielding”-esque: bring back an elder statesman, from the Reagan Administration, with impeccable credentials. At least the Dems won’t be able to give him a hard time over a lack of prosecutorial experience.
We’ve contacted Joseph Russoniello, but we haven’t heard back from him yet. We’ll let you know if and when he gets back to us.
P.S. We’re sad that the fabulous Eumi Choi apparently didn’t get the nod.
Who’d Want This Job, Anyway? [National Law Journal via Law.com (subscription)]
Joseph P. Russoniello bio [Cooley Godward Kronish]
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan Announced Departure [U.S. Attorney's Office (Northern District of California)]

Michael Elston DOJ Justice Department Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgGuess the Durham district attorney isn’t the only prominent government lawyer named Mike (and embroiled in controversy) to announce his resignation on this Friday afternoon.
Has the U.S. Attorney firing controversy claimed another victim? Maybe (assuming he’s not leaving for other reasons). From the AP:

A senior Justice Department official who helped carry out the dismissals of federal prosecutors said Friday he is resigning.

Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors….

Elston is taking a job with a law firm in the Washington area, according to the statement.

We told you to expect some high-level departures from the DOJ. Anyone know where Elston is headed?
P.S. Oh, and here’s the latest in the U.S. Attorney affair: the news that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will also be investigated.
(Gavel bang: commenters here and here.)
Official Close to Attorney Firings Quits [Associated Press via Washington Post]
Gonzales Meeting With Aide Scrutinized [Washington Post]

Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGWe recently got to meet former White House counsel Harriet Miers, up close and personal. And it seems we’re not the only folks who will get to spend quality time with the onetime (and ill-fated) Supreme Court nominee.
This just in, from the AP:

Two congressional committees are issuing subpoenas for testimony from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor on their roles in the firings of eight federal prosecutors, according to two officials familiar with the investigation….

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont issued Taylor’s subpoena for her testimony July 11. His counterpart in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan, issued a subpoena for Miers’ testimony the next day.

A little bit more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harriet Miers: Her Date With Destiny”

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:
Ty Clevenger Regent University Law Review Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
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.”

Page 8 of 161...456789101112...16