Hey, it’s not yet noon — so we can still call this “Morning Docket.”
(Sorry for the delay. But if you care about actual legal news, as opposed to our crude musings on them, you really should go here or here instead.)
* BREAKING: Ann Baskins just resigned as general counsel of HP. And her lawyer, K. Lee Blalack 2nd of O’Melveny & Myers, said that she will not answer questions at today’s congressional hearings into the HP leak investigation scandal. [New York Times]
* Apparently Namibia is good for things other than harboring baby-bearing celebrities. Kobi Alexander — who is not an NBA player, but the ex-CEO of Comverse Technology — has been found in the African nation. As you may recall, after he was indicted on federal criminal charges arising out of alleged options backdating, Alexander became a fugitive. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog]
* Not all internet sickos are creepy white men like John Mark Karr. There are a few ladies out there, too. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via How Appealing]
* Federal prosecutors are looking into whether Jeanine Pirro, anti-porn prosecutrix and the Republican candidate for New York attorney general, illegally taped conversations of her husband, to figure out if he was having (another) affair. Her partner in (possible) crime: Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner and ill-fated pick for DHS Secretary. [New York Times]
(Anyone have a link to the tapes? We heard them on the news this morning, and Pirro repeatedly drops the F-bomb. It’s pretty awesome.)
* The long and tortuous path to legislation governing the treatment of terror detainees may be reaching an end — and not a moment too soon, since this story is kinda hard to follow. And a bit boring. And torture generally doesn’t lend itself to humor opportunities. But see here. [New York Times; How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* We described the HP leak investigation scandal as a “made-for-television movie” well before Rep. Dianna Degette (D. Colo.) did. [WSJ Law Blog]
War on Terror
- Alice Fisher, Brett Gerry, Confirmations, Department of Justice, John Demers, Ken Wainstein, Supreme Court Clerks, War on Terror
Okay, so he’s no Alice Fisher — the ball-busting, badass blonde, recently confirmed to head the DOJ’s Criminal Division, who has white-collar criminals shaking in their boots. But he’s still a highly regarded attorney — and pretty cute, too.
So ATL sends its congratulations to Kenneth L. Wainstein, just confirmed by the Senate as assistant attorney general for the Department’s brand-new National Security Division (NSD). Previously Wainstein served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
The Wall Street Journal — which criticized the Democrats for holding up Wainstein’s nomination 4-evah — describes Ken Wainstein’s new job as follows:
Mr. Wainstein is waiting to fill a new post recommended in last year’s Robb-Silberman report to further break down the “wall” between intelligence and law enforcement. The new post would bring Justice’s counterespionage, counterintelligence and wiretapping units under one Assistant AG. Mr. Wainstein would also be the law enforcement world’s primary liaison with the intelligence community.
President Bush approved the change, Congress authorized it while renewing the Patriot Act earlier this year, and Mr. Wainstein’s offices are humming with computers. All that’s missing is a leader.
Letting Wainstein go through was a smart move for the Democrats. We’re no political strategists, but we do know this much: With an election just a few weeks away, it’s unwise for the Democrats to hold up the nomination of someone with the words “National Security” in his title.
Wainstein, by the way, is putting together a real A-team of legal talent over at the NSD, including several members of the Elect. As we previously reported, one of them is conservative legal superstar Brett Gerry — the Silbermaniac and former Kennedy clerk, who was associate general counsel to the Robb-Silberman commission. Also onboard: John Demers (O’Scannlain/Scalia), the affable legal genius who previously did a tour of duty with the Office of Legal Counsel (which works on many national security issues).
So congrats again to Ken Wainstein. And best of luck to his band of brainiacs, as they tackle some of the toughest issues facing our nation.
Kenneth Wainstein bio [WhiteHouse.gov]
Gonzales Statement on Confirmation of Ken Wainstein as Assistant Attorney General for National Security Division [DOJ Press Release]
Security Holdup [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]
Earlier: Congratulations to Alice Fisher!
The White House Counsel’s Office: Here Comes the Cavalry
- Andrew Fastow, Deaths, Drinking, Enron, Eugene Volokh, Jeffrey Skilling, Morning Docket, War on Terror
(Yeah, we know, today’s “Morning Docket” is coming in just in time for lunch. Sorry, we overslept…)
* Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling is facing 20 to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month — but he can still get himself into even more trouble. Impressive. [Houston Chronicle via WSJ Law Blog]
* Elsewhere in Enron-land, ex-CFO Andy Fastow is seeking leniency in advance of his sentencing next week. Did you know he built a picnic table at his synagogue? [Washington Post; WSJ Law Blog]
* Clarence Hill, the death row inmate who sought to challenge the constitutionality of Florida’s lethal injection procedure, was executed last night. The Supreme Court decided, by a 5-4 vote, not to grant him a new stay of execution. [New York Times]
* Something complicated happened in the House concerning the White House’s proposal for interrogating and prosecuting terror suspects. Parliamentary procedure can be so wacky! Let’s face it: Nothing is getting done on this until after the November elections. [Washington Post]
* Hey, that’s neat: “Eugene Volokh” is on ABC’s “Boston Legal.” [How Appealing]
- 9th Circuit, Akin Gump, Ann Baskins, Federal Judges, HP, Judicial Conference, Larry Sonsini, Manuel Real, Morning Docket, Stephen Breyer, War on Terror
* The Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making body for the federal judiciary (but not the SCOTUS), has announced measures to improve the judiciary’s self-policing and public accountability. They include required installation of “conflict checking” software — get with it, Your Honors, that’s long overdue — and enhanced disclosure concerning judicial junkets. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Speaking of judicial naughtiness, a commission headed by Justice Stephen G. Breyer has concluded that the Ninth Circuit mishandled its investigation of Judge Manuel Real — who is now facing an impeachment inquiry. [Los Angeles Times via How Appealing]
* The latest news in L’Affaire HP: Lawyers all around! HP general counsel Ann Baskins has retained white-collar specialist Cristina Arguedas, and Larry Sonsini has retained Michael Madigan, of Akin Gump. [The Recorder; WSJ Law Blog]
* Trying to come up with legislation to govern interrogation and treatment of terror suspects: Still a big ol’ mess. Wake us up when something’s actually accomplished. [Washington Post; New York Times]
* More back-and-forth between the Bush Administration and Congress concerning rules to govern the interrogation of terror suspects. The White House sent Congress a revised proposal last night; a deal could be reached by the end of this week. [Washington Post]
* More developments in the HP leak investigation scandal. The most interesting: even Larry Sonsini (at right), HP’s lead outside lawyer, was pretexted as part of the probe. Heh. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Former Enron exec David Delainey is sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. [Houston Chronicle via WSJ Law Blog]
* Freelance video journalist and blogger Josh Wolf, who refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena seeking his footage of a political protest, is headed back to jail. [Associated Press]
* Judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.) will testify before Congress in response to GOP efforts to impeach him. (Judge Real, by the way, is quite a character; we’ll probably have more to say about this later.) [Daily Journal via How Appealing]
- Ann Coulter, Anna Nicole Smith, Birthdays, CIA, Comverse, David Souter, Deaths, HP, Morning Docket, War on Terror
* Another day, another deepening of the doo-doo over at HP. Now the plot is taking on a “made-for-television-movie” feel: “[D]etectives tried to plant software on at least one journalist’s computer that would enable messages to be traced.” [New York Times]
* National security adviser Stephen Hadley indicates that the White House is trying to reach a compromise with Republican Senators over what the CIA can and cannot do when interrogating terror suspects. [New York Times]
* A medical examiner hired by successful Supreme Court litigant Anna Nicole Smith performed a second autopsy on Smith’s 20-year-old son over the weekend. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but heart disease, stroke, or a “congenital anomaly” have been ruled out. [Associated Press]
* Options backdating defendant William Sorin was outside general counsel at Comverse Technology — a rather unusual arrangement. Sorin was awarded millions of dollars worth of stock options, even though he wasn’t even a salaried employee of the company. [Corporate Counsel]
* A happy 67th birthday to Justice David H. Souter. And some advice: Don’t eat that cupcake sent over by Ann Coulter, even if she did stick a cute little candle in it. [How Appealing]
- Anna Nicole Smith, HP, Michael Newdow, Milberg Weiss, Morning Docket, Supreme Court, War on Terror, William Lerach
* Anna Nicole Smith, the buxom ex-Playmate and victorious Supreme Court litigant, supports a formal inquest into the mysterious death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Wayne Smith. [Associated Press]
* SCOTUS groupies, rejoice: Same-day transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments will be made available, for free, on the Court’s website. [Washington Post; SCOTUSblog]
* The Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down the legislature’s attempted repeal of judicial pay raises as unconstitutional. As a result, Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices’ salaries will increase to about $171,000, and Common Please judges’ salaries will increase to almost $150,000. Not bad for being an icky state court judge. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Boy that was fast: notorious plaintiffs’ lawyer William Lerach, a former partner at the indicted law firm Milberg Weiss, has filed a derivative lawsuit against the HP board. [The Recorder via WSJ Law Blog]
* Michael “Under God” Newdow, the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation, is at it again. [Law.com]
* More wrangling between the White House and Congressional Republicans over military tribunals and permissible interrogation methods for terror suspects. We hope this gets resolved soon, ’cause our attention span just isn’t that long. [New York Times]
* President Bush said yesterday that 14 “high-value” terror suspects, who were previously held in secret by the CIA, had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, for possible trials before military tribunals. Gitmo’s not exactly the Four Seasons Nevis; but we suppose it’s an improvement. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was sentenced to 6½ years in prison on federal corruption charges. Interesting factoid: “Ryan was the third former governor in Illinois history to be convicted of wrongdoing, all since the 1970s.” [Chicago Tribune]
* The court-appointed guardian of New York grande dame Brooke Astor’s assets in looking into whether her son improperly obtained some $14 million from his mother while “managing” her finances. [New York Times]
* James Frey, disgraced author of “A Million Little Pieces,” and Random House, his publisher, have reached a settlement with readers who filed lawsuits claiming they were defrauded. The terms of the settlement are a bit silly — but then again, the lawsuit was too. [New York Times]