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The man who has prosecuted more spies than any other living lawyer is about to trade espionage for probate, terrorism for drug possession, a dash of fame for a pinch of judicial power. Less than two weeks after wrapping up the prosecution of American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh, Randy Bellows will take his seat on the Fairfax County Circuit Court bench. The court gets more than its fair share of interesting and complex cases, but the job Bellows is leaving, senior litigation counsel to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, is arguably one of the most exciting legal jobs in the country, especially now. Other than a formal statement, Bellows declined to comment, but attorneys who know him say the judgeship is a job Bellows has wanted for a long time. “He has expressed it as a dream come true,” says Justin Williams, chief of criminal cases at the Eastern District who was instrumental in bringing Bellows to the office. “I am deeply honored to be appointed to the Fairfax Circuit Court,” Bellows said in his statement. “I wish to thank Governor Warner for this appointment and to express my appreciation to the Fairfax legislative delegation for its support and recommendation. It will be a great privilege to join this outstanding court and I look forward to serving the Commonwealth of Virginia and the people of Fairfax.” Bellows was chosen for the post — which he assumes on Oct. 15 — on his second try. He first threw his name in for consideration in 2000 for a vacant spot on the Fairfax bench. The previous year, he had been asked by then-Attorney General Janet Reno to head a team that would review the government’s handling of the Wen Ho Lee espionage probe. Despite his ambitions for a court seat, Bellows pulled no punches in writing up his findings. He submitted a 778-page report on the investigation of nuclear scientist Lee and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in May 2000 that roundly criticized the government. He was passed over for the judgeship that year — it went to Gaylord Finch Jr., a former chief judge of the Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. But last week, Democratic Gov. Mark Warner appointed the 50-year-old Bellows to a seat left open by Judge Henry Hudson’s departure for the Richmond federal bench. Taking on the report when Bellows did and doing such a thorough job, say lawyers who practice in Northern Virginia, showed the kind of independence they say they look for in a judge. Bellows’ staunch objectivity “will serve him well as a judge,” says Mark Rochon, of counsel at Miller & Chevalier. Like his former mentor, the late Charles Ruff, Bellows draws stunning praise from his peers. Judge Hudson, then-U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, hired Bellows in 1989. “Randy is the hardest working lawyer I’ve ever dealt with,” Hudson says. “Randy literally will come into the office on Friday and work for two days straight without going home. He has lawyers 20 years his junior screaming for a break.” Williams says, “It’s hard not to describe him in superlative terms. His intellect has been an amazing asset to the office.” The defense bar is equally effusive. They speak of his “fairness,” his “ethics,” his “brilliance,” and his “commitment to the rights of the defendants” he prosecutes. It’s seemingly impossible to find a lawyer who has worked with or against Bellows who doesn’t say, unprompted, that he will make a good judge. This, despite Bellows’ negligible experience with civil litigation. The one year he spent at Covington & Burling came between his work as an associate independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation — where he got to know Ruff — and his move to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. He handled a number of civil matters while at Covington, but he also started and supervised a pro bono program representing indigent defendants in D.C. Superior Court. Federal Public Defender Frank Dunham Jr. says Bellows will “pick up [civil litigation] fast because he’s so intelligent,” adding, “he will be a star on the Fairfax Circuit Court bench.” The cases Bellows has handled shimmer with the names of the infamous: counterspies Robert Hanssen and Earl Pitts, would-be spy Theresa Squillacote, fertility doctor Cecil Jacobson, and the United Way’s William Aramony. James Brosnahan, the lead attorney for Lindh, says Bellows was “unflappable” throughout the eight-month case, which ended Oct. 4 when Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison. “Civility is a term lawyers use all the time, but Randy was always that,” Brosnahan says. “He worked with his clients, the Defense Department and others, to make sure the rules of discovery were complied with.” Bellows has a solid reputation for high professionalism when it comes to turning over information he’d rather see hidden under a rock. In the hard-fought case of Theresa Squillacote that ended in the former Pentagon attorney’s 1998 jury conviction for espionage conspiracy, Bellows’ honest dealing with the defense earned him the respect of Squillacote’s attorney Lawrence Robbins, a partner in D.C.’s Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner. There was evidence in the case the government wanted to introduce, Robbins says, but it wanted it entered without revealing the source or how it was gathered. “In advance of the hearing, Randy provided some very sensitive material regarding how that information was obtained and which very much undermined his ability to offer the evidence without publicly disclosing how it was obtained,” Robbins says. Bellows was ethically obligated to reveal the information, but not every prosecutor would, Robbins says. Bellows’ actions were underscored by how difficult it likely was to get the information, Robbins says. “There had to be people in the intelligence community who screamed bloody murder that we were allowed to see this document,” he adds. “It speaks volumes about his standing in the government and his sense of his own ethical obligations. And I’m someone who got my head beat in by Randy, and vice versa, for nearly a year and a half.” Dunham notes that in addition to playing fair, Bellows keeps his word, even if it means suffering discomfort in the courtroom. Dunham represented Earl Pitts, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence agent who pleaded guilty in 1997 to spying for Russia. At the sentencing hearing, Judge T.S. Ellis III invited Bellows to take a certain position on a sentence enhancement, but in discussions with defense counsel, Bellows had said he would not seek the enhancement. The judge, Dunham recalls, “couldn’t get Bellows to move. Probably Judge Ellis was right, but the fact of the matter was that Randy was sticking to the commitment he made.” “I will miss his presence,” Dunham says, “though it’s hard to say because he’s good at putting your clients in jail.” Indeed, Bellows is a tough adversary. The 1977 Harvard Law School graduate spent 1979 through 1983 with the Public Defender Service. But as one lawyer puts it, “he’s not the kind of guy where that gives you an edge” if you’re a defense lawyer. Says Plato Cacheris, who represented counterspy Robert Hanssen: “He protects his territory.” Brosnahan, too, notes Bellows’ prosecutorial zeal: “He’s not going to give anything away.” Williams had noticed Bellows’ work at the fraud section at the DOJ during the mid-1980s and wanted him for the Eastern District. Pushing to bring Bellows to the U.S. Attorney’s Office “was the best decision” he ever made, Williams says. “He has an unbelievable capacity for not only hard work, but for the most excruciating kind of detail.” Bellows struck a delicate balance in the case of Dr. Cecil Jacobson, a fertility doctor convicted in 1992 of lying to his patients and using his own sperm to impregnate them. “They were amazingly sensitive issues,” Williams says. “He was able to have people come forward and put on sufficient testimony and at the same time was sensitive to the privacy needs of the victims and their families.” “He inspires confidence,” Williams says. Likewise, Bellows has a special rapport with the intelligence community. The report on the Wen Ho Lee matter was highly critical of the FBI and the Justice Department, but was uniformly hailed as accurate, fair, and a key to significant improvements in handling espionage matters. Williams notes that Bellows’ work on that project and his “ability to inspire confidence” made it possible “to get all the intelligence agencies on board and get consensus from them in the Hanssen matter.” His presence in the office will be sorely missed, but “it’s something he has always wanted to do and I think it’s actually a perfect blend for his scholarship and the tremendous interest he has in complex issues,” Williams says. “The guy has paid his dues.”

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