FRENCH TO K&L GATES PARTNER: VIVE LA FRANCE!

In the eyes of France, K&L Gates lobbyist Bart Gordon has joined the ranks of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, four-star general George Patton and Hollywood icon Barbra Streisand. Gordon, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985 to 2011 as a Democrat from Tennessee, last week received the Insignia of Officier de la Légion d’Honneur, the second degree of France’s highest honor.

Bell, Patton and Streisand also are recipients of the decoration, which the French president bestows at his discretion. Napoleon Bonaparte created the honor in 1802. “It’s a much-appreciated award,” Gordon said.

During a September 17 ceremony at the residence of François Delattre, the French ambassador to the United States, France’s top diplomat in Washington said Gordon is “a close and long-time friend of France,” noting the former congressman’s membership on the Congressional French Caucus. “The President of France has decided to promote Congressman Gordon to the rank of Officier, which is exceptional, illustrating France’s deep gratitude for his personal commitment to French-American relations and friendship,” Delattre said in prepared remarks. — Andrew Ramonas 

JUDGE TO DOJ LAWYER: SILENCE IS ‘DISTURBING’

The U.S. Justice Department’s Stuart Delery found himself in a rare spot last week, having to respond to a federal appellate court about its concern that government lawyers left judges in the dark on developments in a high-profile business dispute.

Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit this month asked Delery, the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, to explain how DOJ did not inform the court sooner about an action the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration took against CVS Caremark Corp., the national retail pharmacy company. At a hearing September 12, Tatel called DOJ’s silence “disturbing.”

Delery said in a letter to the court September 19 that lawyers in the DEA’s chief counsel’s office, who reviewed DOJ’s court filings in the litigation, were not aware of a key development in the case — that the agency had revoked the ability of two CVS stores in Florida to sell controlled substances. “We regret the delay in providing this information to the court,” Delery wrote. “I wish to stress again how seriously we view our obligation to keep this court promptly informed of relevant developments in this and all cases.” Just one day after the submission, Delery argued an unrelated case in front of Tatel. The judge didn’t thank Delery, at least in court, for his explanation. — Mike Scarcella 

A LAWYER’S PARTING SHOT AT DOJ

The Department of Justice’s inspector general released its report on an 18-month investigation last week that criticized senior DOJ officials for their roles in the failed Fast and Furious gun-smuggling operation. While it largely absolved Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. of knowing that assault weapons were allowed to be transported to Mexico, two high-level DOJ attorneys left their positions the day the report was released. Holder announced the immediate retirement of Kenneth Melson, the former acting director of the ATF, and accepted the resignation of Jason Weinstein, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division. Weinstein, a career prosecutor for 15 years, did not leave quietly. In his resignation letter, Weinstein said he would continue to fight the report’s findings but did not want to be a distraction to the DOJ. “I recognize that, in the dynamic of internal investigations of this nature, particularly when they become enmeshed in politicized Congressional hearings, it is virtually inevitable that someone must be singled out for blame, whether the facts support it or not,” Weinstein wrote. “That is what the Inspector General’s report has done with regard to me here.” — Todd Ruger

STICK AROUND

Dickstein Shapiro no longer wants to represent John Hinckley Jr., President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin, after many years advocating on his behalf. But a federal judge in Washington isn’t letting the firm walk away — yet, at least. Last week, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman denied a request from Hinckley’s lawyers, including Dickstein partner Barry Wm. Levine, to end their representation. Hinckley remains hospitalized and receiving treatment. Levine in August pointed to “significant outstanding legal bills in arrears” — and the Hinckley family’s intent to stop future funding for legal bills — as the firm’s motivation to end its work. In court papers, Levine said “the repeated hearings that the government has insisted upon have been extremely expensive, even at the reduced rates that undersigned counsel has charged.” Friedman said allowing Dickstein to drop out now — in the middle of a dispute over expanding Hinckley’s release privileges — “would unfairly prejudice Mr. Hinckley and would not be in the interests of justice.” Friedman wrote “at this point, the ball is in the hospital’s court” over the submission of any new plan to expand Hinckley’s conditional freedom. The judge said he’d consider, again, Dickstein’s request to stop representing Hinckley. — Mike Scarcella

PROUD DAY

White-collar litigator and Chadbourne & Parke partner Abbe Lowell early next year will be awarded for his work by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Lowell will be presented with the 2013 White Collar Criminal Defense Award on January 12, 2013, during the association’s program at Stetson University College of Law in Florida. During the past year, Lowell defended former Senator John Edwards amid allegations of collecting illegal campaign contributions. “I am honored and humbled to receive this award from my peers,” Lowell said in a written statement. “I am proud to work with my white collar defense colleagues around the country to maintain the balance between government and the rights of those charged with crimes.” — Matthew Huisman

HELPING PATIENTS

Cancer patients will have more say in new drug reviews by the government, thanks in part to the efforts of Ray Aragon, a partner in McKenna Long & Aldridge‘s Washington office. Aragon and Atlanta partner Summer Martin were honored for their pro bono work by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, receiving the Judicial Advocacy Award for Excellence on September 14. Aragon worked to get legislative language supporting and strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s patient representative program placed into the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which was signed into law in July. Patient representatives provide the FDA with the unique perspective of those directly affected by a serious disease. “These changes will give patient representatives a clearer voice in reviewing drug applications and drug uses,” Aragon said. “It was a real pleasure working with [the organization] to further its goal of empowering cancer patients.” — Jenna Greene

SECRET MEETING

The Senate Judiciary Committee on September 20 approved the nomination of William Baer to lead the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division on a 12-5 vote, but not before an unusual closed-door hearing. Republicans asked for that closed session, saying some members have concerns with issues that were brought forward in the standard background investigation. The private meeting lasted 15 minutes, after which, without public debate, they voted by roll call. Committee members of both parties are keeping secret what issues may have been raised, and why some GOP senators decided to oppose Baer after he had received a warm reception from senators of both parties at a hearing in July. — Todd Ruger