White-Collar Crime

* The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments today on a challenge to the Voting Rights Act. If for some reason you’re not sure why you should care about this, here’s everything you need to know to sound intelligent at the water cooler. [New York Times]

* If the sequester goes into effect this Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder warns that we’re probably going to see “profound” effects across the entire justice system. America, f**k yeah! Coming again to save the motherf**kin’ day, yeah! [National Law Journal]

* It looks like the tiny and terrifying Mary Jo White is currently on the Congressional pageant trail ahead of her March confirmation hearing for SEC leadership, and now she’s even vowed never to return to Debevoise & Plimpton. [DealBook / New York Times]

* A coup for Cadwalader and a casualty for Cravath: Jim Woolery chose another firm over his former home of 17 years, and it may have something to do with the Biglaw bonus market leader’s “sometimes antiquated” regime. [Am Law Daily]

* “There are many more fish chasing the same business,” but that’s not stopping new white-collar boutiques from trying to compete for business in what some say is an overly crowded market. [New York Law Journal]

* Louis Oberdorfer, district judge of the D.D.C. and former SCOTUS clerk, RIP. [Blog of Legal Times]

* A study finds that over 93 percent of attorneys, judges, and legal writing professors think the writing they’re reading is bad. One could argue this is evidence of a crisis in writing skills. Or one could argue that lawyers are a**holes who think every voice other than their own is wrong. It’s a 50/50 shot. [Associates Mind]

* If you ever wondered how many OSHA violations one could find with Jabba’s Palace, wonder no more. [Legal Geeks]

* Are you scared of Obamacare? Here’s a roundup of your official survival guides! [The New Republic]

* If you’re trying to enter the United States, border agents can seize your electronics and look at all your private files because you need to respect their authoritah! [Forbes]

* Joseph Kennedy Jr. died helping to invent drones. OMG, you guys! The drone war is the final stage of the Kennedy family’s long-term liberal plan for world domination. [io9]

* Senator Menendez has hired McDermott Will & Emery and Perkins Coie to conduct spin control now that he’s getting flak for privately funded air travel and hooker allegations. See what you can do with your law degree! [The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times]

* Avvo is expanding their legal rating service into a full research tool to allow potential clients to pick out lawyers. So you’d better get in good with Avvo now. [Avvo]

* Now here’s a trick — watch Magic Circle lawyers disappear! Pepper Hamilton, now led by Louis Freeh, lures Linklaters lawyers to its ranks. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

In the movie Malice, Jack Donaghy is asked during a deposition (by Sandy Cohen) if he has a “God Complex” and proceeds to deliver a classic meltdown: “I *AM* God.”

There’s a legal equivalent to Baldwin’s doctor, and it’s not a judge or even a senior partner. For the biggest “God Complexes” (“God Complii?”) look to your friendly neighborhood prosecutors. Imbued with extraordinary power through the charging process and the investigatory resources of the government, prosecutors can get used to getting their way and indifferent to the plight of defendants, witnesses, and counsel. And nothing can raise their ire more than someone unwilling to cooperate. “How dare they defy me?”

Take the case of Kevin Ring, a Jack Abramoff acolyte sentenced to almost two years of prison time, whose conviction was just upheld by the D.C. Circuit (opinion available here). I’m not a huge fan of lobbyists, but the transgressions proved at Ring’s trial look way too small to justify his sentence.

Instead, it looks like his primary crime was not cooperating with the almighty government….

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In Apocalypse Now, while winding his way up river to kill Marlon Brando for war crimes, Martin Sheen’s character muses that “charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.” Well, the racing world should be very thankful that Indianapolis isn’t in Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s jurisdiction.

Vance’s office is prosecuting a bank for its alleged role in the housing market meltdown. Note “a” bank, as in singular. While the entire financial world crashed, Vance is going after a small, family-run bank that serves New York’s Chinese immigrant community.

Yeah, that’s totally who I’d blame for the crisis too.

But this case does, perhaps unwittingly, expose the fantasy guiding prosecutors in the aftermath of the crisis. And suggests that the Manhattan DA’s office needs to look up the word “epitomizes”….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Bank Deserves Criminal Prosecution? The Smallest One, Obviously!”

Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged two former stockbrokers, Thomas Conradt and David Weishaus, with insider trading. There is a legal angle here (aside from the criminal charges and the civil case being brought by the SEC): Conradt is a lawyer, a member of the Maryland and Colorado bars, and Weishaus graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law a year after Conradt.

To be honest, though, we’re not intensely interested in Conradt and Weishaus. Their alleged misdeeds occurred while they were working in finance, not law; the contours of Conradt’s legal career are somewhat unclear; and as for Weishaus, it’s not clear that he ever passed the bar or practiced as a lawyer.

As regular readers of Above the Law know, we have a weakness for prestige around these parts. So we’re far more interested in the former Cravath associate who, according to law enforceent allegations, made their misdeeds possible….

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* While the mainstream media may claim the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is neck-and-neck in a dead heat, the majority of Am Law 200 managing partners are predicting the incumbent will be reelected for another four years. [Am Law Daily]

* In the meantime, infamous media whores Donald Trump and Gloria Allred have both promised “October surprises” for our presidential candidates. Guess we’ll finally find out what they’re yapping about later today after Allred gets back from court and the Don tweets. [ABC News]

* “These lawyers are my kind of scum. Fearless and inventive.” Raj Rajaratnam’s attorneys plan to appeal his insider trading conviction later this week on claims that the government improperly wiretapped him. [DealBook / New York Times]

* There’s no way this statute is going to be pushed back into the closet. New York’s Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the state’s gay marriage law on the basis of a violation of open-meeting laws. [Bloomberg]

* Lindsay Lohan’s father wants a judge to place the fading star under a conservatorship. Hey, it worked for Britney Spears, right? And on the plus side, it’s a great way to get her name back into the news. [CNN]

Jason Hunt (left) and Samuel Cole Wakefield

This week brought unfortunate news for an unambiguously gay duo. A former employee of Vanderbilt Law and his boyfriend pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from the law school — as well as to charges of aggravated statutory rape. Both men then got hit with some pretty heavy sentences.

How much time are they getting? How did they perpetrate their fraudulent scheme? And what did they blow the money on?

Keep reading for more details of their crimes, some color commentary from local correspondents, and photographs of some beautiful youths who used to hang out with the defendants….

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Whatever happened to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the failure of Dewey & LeBoeuf? It seems like we haven’t heard about it for weeks. Today we finally have some news to pass along.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, this morning the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about the current state of the investigation. There are a few additional details, but on the whole, we don’t know very much at this point.

We know more about how you can get your hands on part of Dewey’s art collection. Keep on reading for details on that subject….

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(Plus your chance to own a piece of Dewey.)

Nothing pisses off a lawyer more than uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to the risk of undermining the facade of perfect knowledge that attorneys prefer to convey to their clients. Given this character trait, it’s no surprise that the collective white-collar and corporate counsel community is freaking the hell out about every scrap of information it can glean from the Justice Department about its new Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement policy.

So what exactly has these observant lawyers in a tizzy?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Reading Tea Leaves: Defense Bar Freaking Out About the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act”

All hail Captain Hammer!

Flash back to 2005. Tom DeLay was the Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, living in a safe Republican district, and poised to chart the course of American politics forever. DeLay was nicknamed “The Hammer” for his brutal efficiency as Majority whip, crushing all dissent from backbenchers and building a solid GOP coalition — a nickname that the fundamentalist DeLay endorses because “the hammer is one of the carpenter’s favorite tools.” In other words, Tom DeLay was a tool.

So what happened?

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