NO BREAK FOR WILMER ATTORNEY
You might think Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner William Lee would rate a day off after delivering the rebuttal closing argument on behalf of Apple Inc. in its massive patent infringement trial against Samsung Electronics Co. — and helping secure a billion-dollar jury verdict in the process. But no. Lee (who was asked earlier by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California whether he was “smoking crack” when he submitted a 75-page list of witnesses), promptly hopped a red-eye from California to Washington. When he landed on August 22, he headed straight to the International Trade Commission to join the Wilmer team on the second day of a patent trial pitting clients Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. against tiny X2Y Attenuators LLC. “Coast to coast and back to back was a little challenging but both were great cases for great clients,” Lee said. — Jenna Greene
FEDS 2, TEXAS 0: DOJ WINS IN BIG VOTER CASES
In the span of two days, two separate three-judge panels in Washington messed with Texas — blocking the state’s ability to carry out its controversial voter-identification measure and ruling against a redistricting attempt. Texas lost twice in suits the state filed against the U.S. Justice Department, which argued that the redistricting and voter ID efforts would harm racial minorities and the poor.
The panel judges in the two cases — which were challenges under the Voting Rights Act — did not all come to the bench under one president. One district judge, Rosemary Collyer, was on both of the panels. “It speaks to how compelling the evidence was in these cases that judges from across the ideological spectrum came to the same result,” said Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law.
Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, sitting with District Judge Robert Wilkins, wrote the opinion in the voter-identification case. Tatel called Texas’ voter ID law “the most stringent in the country” and said it imposes “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.” Tatel’s colleague, D.C. Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith wrote the main opinion in the redistricting case. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to appeal both panel decisions to the U.S. Supreme Court. — Mike Scarcella
JUDGE HITS DOJ IN WITHERS CASE
The U.S. Justice Department since 2010 has been fighting a Memphis newspaper’s demand for records about former FBI confidential informant Ernest Withers, an acclaimed photographer in the civil rights era. In recent months, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington has issued rulings adverse to the government. Things got worse last week at a hearing that coincided with the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Jackson on August 28 said top DOJ officials need to consider whether the government is “fully committed” to litigate certain issues to substantiate the refusal to turn over records about Withers’ service as a secret informant. Those issues, Jackson said, include whether the federal probe of King was a legitimate law enforcement investigation. Jackson also said she was “deeply, deeply troubled” by a declaration from an FBI historian — filed by DOJ lawyers — justifying the government’s litigation stances. “The judge is asking all of the right questions and is expressing all of the right concerns,” Holland & Knight partner Charles Tobin, a lawyer for the Commercial Appeal newspaper, said. “We hope that the FBI finally will start to listen.” — Mike Scarcella
A PRODUCTIVE LIFE
During a 30-minute “Ask me Anything” Q&A session hosted by President Barack Obama on the social-media site Reddit last week, Obama fielded a question from Hilary Lee, a May graduate from Northwestern University School of Law. “While I’m sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life — to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family — is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people,” Lee wrote. “I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way.…What hope can you offer us for your second term?” In his response, Obama brought up the health care bill that allows young people to stay on their parent’s insurance plans. He also said that creating jobs for the middle class was important. In an interview, Lee said she wants to focus her practice on antitrust litigation, but finding even a job in general litigation has proved difficult. She said that she doesn’t blame Obama for her current situation. “Hopefully it will get better and [politicians] will look at recent graduates and people who are in their 20s and realize the difficult situation we face,” Lee said. — Matthew Huisman
BUNDLES OF JOY
As Washington lobbyists hobnobbed at the Republican National Convention last week, D.C. officials rolled out a new campaign finance reform package with them squarely in mind. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and Attorney General Irvin Nathan teamed up on August 28 to announce proposed legislation that would, among other things, bar registered lobbyists or anyone acting on their behalf from bundling campaign contributions. The reform package, which also includes new disclosure requirements and prohibitions on contributions from government contractors and grant recipients, comes after a year of ethics-related headaches for the District, from the resignation of two councilmembers to an ongoing investigation of Gray’s 2010 campaign. Campaign finance reform took center stage after a series of campaign finance-related scandals this year, including a guilty plea from a woman accused of funneling more than $650,000 to a shadow campaign supporting Gray in the 2010 election. — Zoe Tillman
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr is emerging as the law firm of choice for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it comes to hiring agency lawyers. Last week, the agency announced that Christopher Lipsett, who was a partner in Wilmer’s financial institutions and litigation practices in New York, joined the CFPB as senior counsel in the Office of the Director. He may see some familiar faces around the office. Another Wilmer alum, Kelly Thompson Cochran, was just promoted to acting assistant director for regulations. One-time Wilmer litigation associate Roberto Gonzalez is the CFPB’s principal deputy general counsel, and former Wilmer counsel Michael Gordon is senior counselor to the director. — Jenna Greene
Michael Queen, a former associate of MSNBC television personality Ed Schultz, learned the hard way that when it comes to money, always get it in writing. A Washington federal judge tossed Queen’s lawsuit against Schultz last week, finding that he failed to offer enough evidence that the two had agreed he would share in profits from Schultz’s on-screen success. Queen claimed that he developed an idea to give Schultz, at the time a successful radio host, his own television show in 2007. According to his complaint, Queen collaborated with Schultz to create a pilot and shop it around. In an August 30 opinion, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell granted summary judgment to Schultz on Queen’s claims and to Queen on Schultz’s counterclaims, handing a win and a loss to both sides. She dismissed the case. — Zoe Tillman