DOJ LOSES APPEAL BID IN TOBACCO LABEL CASE

The U.S. Justice Department last week lost its bid to convince the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rescue the government’s plans to place grisly anti-smoking warnings on cigarette packages. The appeals court voted, 5-3, to reject a petition from the department, which was advocating on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the dispute. The graphic images are intended to illustrate the hazards of smoking.

In August, a three-judge panel blocked the warnings on First Amendment ground. Three judges voted to review that ruling: Merrick Garland, Judith Rogers and David Tatel, comprising the court’s liberal wing. Rogers had been the dissenting voice on the three-judge panel. None of the judges on the en banc court issued any statement explaining their votes.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately comment about the decision. The ruling was a win for tobacco companies and their attorneys, including Jones Day partner Noel Francisco for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Floyd Abrams of Cahill Gordon & Reindel for Lorillard Tobacco Co. (Francisco argued against DOJ attorney Mark Stern before the circuit.) The panel decision ran opposite to a ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Lawyers for tobacco companies have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take a look at that case. — Mike Scarcella

FEDS AGAINST BROWNS, ROUND 2

It’s been a bad year for the Brown family. The summer began with the resignation of former District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame Brown, who was charged with bank fraud and campaign finance law violations. This week, Brown’s brother, Che Brown, is set to go before a D.C. federal judge under similar circumstances. Prosecutors charged Che Brown on December 5 with bank fraud, accusing him of securing a loan modification using documents that made it seem as if he received $35,000 in income when, in fact, he had not. The case isn’t related to his brother’s, although Che Brown was tied to campaign activities that landed Kwame Brown in court. Kwame Brown pleaded guilty and served a few hours in jail. Che Brown is scheduled to plead guilty before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on December 13. The cases resemble each other in another respect — both brothers brought in big-name counsel. Kwame Brown was represented by Frederick Cooke Jr. of Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke, a go-to lawyer for local politicos in trouble. Che Brown is being represented by veteran white-collar defense attorney A. Scott Bolden, managing partner of Reed Smith‘s D.C. office. — Zoe Tillman

CALLING IT QUITS

For the first time in 75 years, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey senior counsel Louis Stokes won’t have a job. The 87-year-old lawyer-lobbyist is retiring this month from the firm, which he joined in 1999 after 30 years as an Ohio Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Waking up without a job is “going to be a startling revelation for me,” said Stokes, who first started working at the age of 12 as a paperboy. During his three decades in Congress, he held posts that included chairman of the House Ethics and Intelligence panels, as well as chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which probed the deaths of Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy. Before he joined the House in 1969, he was a principal at Stokes, Character, Terry, Perry, Whitehead, Young and Davidson in Cleveland and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 in Terry v. Ohio. Most recently at Squire Sanders, Stokes lobbied for clients that included Cleveland State University and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where Cleveland is located, according to congressional records. — Andrew Ramonas

THE LEGAL SHAVE-OFF

You can tell when the end of November arrives at BuckleySandler by the amount of facial hair on the attorneys. For two years, the D.C. firm has participated in Movember, an annual fundraiser and awareness campaign focusing on men’s health problems, particularly prostate and testicular cancer. This year, 22 attorneys and staff members raised more than $33,000, eclipsing last year’s total of $26,000-plus. “When we started the firm, one of the priorities was strong community involvement and mutual support to improve life in the community,” firm chairman Andrew Sandler said. The fundraiser culminated in an award ceremony and shave-off with barbers using electric shavers and straight-edge razors. But the fundraiser wasn’t restricted to the men. Several women were sporting fake mustaches, including partner Andrea Mitchell. “The men in my family all face health issues and face it in a private way,” she said. “I want people to start feeling more comfortable when talking about men’s health issues.” — Matthew Huisman

CONFIRMATION THAW

The freeze on federal judicial confirmations appears to be thawing for the first time since the presidential election, at least when it comes to district court nominees. The Senate approved four district court judges last week: Mark Walker to become a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Florida; Terrence Berg was confirmed by voice vote for a district judge slot in the Eastern District of Michigan; Paul Grimm to become a district judge in the District of Maryland; and Michael Shea for a district judge slot in the District of Connecticut. The bigger question among nomination watchers now is when the Senate would consider nominees to appellate courts, and whether that will happen during the lame duck session. “I am cautiously optimistic that more nominees will soon be considered on the floor,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor. — Todd Ruger

DOLE’S FAILED PUSH

Senator-turned-lobbyist Bob Dole‘s appearance in a wheelchair on the U.S. Senate floor last week wasn’t enough to persuade his former colleagues to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Facing GOP concerns about sovereignty, the measure failed to secure the two-thirds support required for approval after the Alston & Bird special counsel left the floor. Under the treaty, countries must create and implement measures that provide equal rights to persons with disabilities. “In the nearly 30 years I have been here, I think this is the first time I have seen a former majority leader of the Senate come to the Senate floor for a vote,” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said on the floor. — Andrew Ramonas