When the gavel fell yesterday, Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins found his office’s high-profile mortgage fraud case dismissed. What’s worse, Watkins found himself held in contempt of court by Judge Lena Levario.
The judge did not issue a sentence for the contempt charge, but jail time is not out of the question. I’d imagine District Attorneys are not popular in jail.
The trouble for Watkins revolves around the charge that he trumped up a case against a litigious spendthrift backed by a portion of a multi-billion dollar fortune, who nonetheless took out a giant mortgage that may or may not have been fraudulent. Blast you, adversarial legal system! Can’t we find a way to punish everyone in this case?
Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine. We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense. That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong. Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.
We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades. (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him a fake, back-dated “Scholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)
Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig. In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team. I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor. I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry. But that does not make them criminals….
Texas attorney Ray Marchan (Stanford ’82) has leapt from the Queen Isabella Bridge before turning himself in to federal authorities to serve a 3 1/2 year prison term. Marchan was convicted of six counts of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, aiding and abetting extortion, and mail fraud in connection with the bribing of former 404th District Judge Abel C. Limas to the tune of over $11,000
At this time, it’s unknown if Marchan was killed in the fall. Investigators are considering the possibility that he used the fall to escape….
* 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]
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….
In ApocalypseNow, 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”….
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….
* 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]
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….
Jiminy jillickers! ATL editors are going all over the place over the next month or so. Or at least all over the Eastern Seaboard. If we aren’t heading to your neck of the woods on these trips, never fear, we may hit you up on the next time around. We’ve already hit up Houston, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the past year.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
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