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DISORDER IN D.C. COURTS’ BUILDING PROJECT The D.C. judiciary’s $145 million plan to renovate the H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse and adjacent buildings to make space for its new Family Court is on hold because of a funding snafu between court officials and the General Services Administration. At a Senate budget hearing March 12, D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Annice Wagner, chair of the courts’ policy-making body, said the judiciary sought all $145 million in renovation money this year because the GSA said renovations could not even begin without full funding. But, Wagner said, on March 10 the GSA notified the courts that was no longer the case. That miscommunication put Wagner and D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Rufus King III in the embarrassing position of notifying Congress that their 2004 budget request � which totaled more than $293 million, including the $145 million capital plan � was excessive. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on D.C., saying he was “shocked and disappointed,” called for a hearing in the coming weeks and said that implementation of the Family Court Act of 2001 could be in jeopardy. “It’s like a bomb just dropped,” DeWine said. King downplayed the situation, assuring DeWine that “we’re not going to delay implementation of the family bill.” King said the court’s plan is on schedule and that the Small Claims and Landlord Tenant branches will be moved out of the Moultrie courthouse to make room for the Family Court by October. The Family Court will occupy one of the lower levels in the Moultrie building. A GSA spokesman declines comment. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) suggested that it may work out better for the cash-strapped federal government if the funding were not needed all at once. Court officials say the money would still be needed upfront, but not until FY 2005. Landrieu said she was concerned that building the Family Court is the final stage of the courts’ plan rather than the first. She also said the new Family Court should be a structure that lawmakers could proudly show off to constituents. “I would like this Family Court to be a real showcase in what a family court should look like,” Landrieu said. According to the judiciary’s plan, $60 million is pegged for the renovation of the Old Courthouse, a vacant 183-year-old building across the street from Moultrie that would house the appellate court, a project Wagner has been trying to get off the ground for several years. Another $39 million would go to make space for the Family Court. The rest of the money would be spent on an information system and fire alarm and security improvements. In addition, the courts want a raise for the court-appointed defense bar, from $65 an hour to $90 an hour � the rate at which lawyers are paid to handle criminal matters in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. � Tom Schoenberg THIS RX MAY NOT WORK Medical malpractice reform is farther along than ever, but the winners in the House of Representatives’ March 13 vote to limit damages in such cases may be empty-handed at year’s end. The bill caps punitive damages at $250,000 in malpractice suits against physicians, hospitals, HMOs, and makers of drugs and medical devices. Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says the 229-196 tally was fueled by reports of “doctor flight,” with physicians abandoning some localities because of high damage awards and insurance costs. Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, counters that “doctors in white coats have been a cover” for business and insurance interests. But the Senate is not considered likely to follow the House. “This is a challenge, and will remain a challenge as long as the Senate is so closely divided,” says Josten. Claybrook says her coalition of trial lawyers, malpractice victims, and consumer groups remains watchful. “It’s a very fragile situation, precisely because [the Senate] is so close,” she says. � Jonathan Groner WHITLEY’S RETURN Atlanta-based Alston &Bird white collar crime partner Joe Whitley was last seen in D.C. in 2001 as the special counsel probing allegations that then-Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson had steered sensitive cases to her fellow Democratic appointees. Whitley, a Republican, found no evidence of chicanery and exonerated Johnson. Now, he’s headed back to D.C. as President George W. Bush’s intended nominee for general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. The nomination requires Senate approval. Whitley, 52, was a DOJ official and U.S. attorney in Atlanta during Bush I. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with Secretary [Tom] Ridge in this important post,” says Whitley. � Jonathan Groner HOME AGAIN � AGAIN Eugene Scalia returns this week to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a partner in the firm’s D.C. office. The former Department of Labor solicitor general will co-chair the 800-lawyer firm’s labor and employment practice group and be a member of the appellate and constitutional law practice group. Scalia is prohibited for a year from working on cases involving the Labor Department. But there are a wide variety of labor and employment matters involving other agencies and private litigants that he can handle immediately, says Scalia. President George W. Bush appointed Scalia, 39, as Labor’s top lawyer in April 2001, but Scalia was never able to win Senate confirmation. The president instead recess-appointed Scalia in January 2002 and designated him acting solicitor in November. During his time at Labor, Scalia’s tasks included probing Enron pension plans and intervening in the West Coast ports labor dispute. “It was a great honor to serve as solicitor,” he says. “But I did at times miss the hands-on practice of law.” This is not the first time Scalia has celebrated a homecoming at Gibson, Dunn. He joined the firm’s Los Angeles office in 1990, left in 1992 to be special assistant to then-Attorney General William Barr, and returned to work for the firm in D.C. in 1993. � Lily Henning THE AOL TEAM The most recent investigation to gather the big dogs in regulatory and corporate criminal defense work is the ongoing probe into deals made between AOL Time Warner Inc. and other companies, including Homestore Inc., that allegedly artificially boosted revenue figures. AOL has been cooperating with investigators and has turned over reams of documents. The Reston, Va.-based media giant has turned to former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen of McGuireWoods; longtime outside counsel Kirkland & Ellis, including partner Thomas Yannucci; New York’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore; as well as F. Whitten Peters and others from Williams & Connolly. Former AOL executive Eric Keller has tapped D.C. partner Everett Johnson Jr. and others from Latham & Watkins, while his former cohort in the business division, David Colburn, has turned to Roger Spaeder of Zuckerman Spaeder. Homestore Inc. hired O’Melveny & Myers. Eastern District of Virginia prosecutor Claudius Modesti is leading the joint EDVa., FBI, and SEC inquiry. � Siobhan Roth STILL SEEKING CORPORATION COUNSEL It’s been nearly seven months since Robert Rigsby stepped down as D.C. corporation counsel to become a D.C. Superior Court judge, and four months since Mayor Anthony Williams created a 23-person search committee to find his replacement. The mayor has yet to nominate someone to head the city’s 200-lawyer, $50 million legal shop. Last week, acting Corporation Counsel Arabella Teal, who had thrown her name in for the job, said she would be leaving the District in June. Meanwhile, the names of at least two candidates keep popping up. According to three sources, they are Robert Spagnoletti, chief of the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office sex offense/domestic violence section, and Inga Bumbary-Langston, assistant U.S. attorney in Des Moines, Iowa. Bumbary-Langston’s husband is Ronald Langston, head of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency. Williams spokesman Tony Bullock would not comment, except to say that the list is “considerably more than two people.” Bullock says the job’s $135,000 salary has made recruiting difficult, but adds that Williams expects to have named a new counsel by the time Teal departs. � Tom Schoenberg PRESTON GATES’ IP COUP Preston Gates & Ellis has snagged a team of 15 intellectual property specialists from the D.C. office of McKenna Long & Aldridge, including IP practice head Don Pelto. The group of eight attorneys and seven technical specialists will boost Preston Gates’ D.C. office head count to 63 and bring “accelerated momentum to our intellectual property and life sciences practices,” says D.C. office chair Emanuel Rouvelas. Also joining Preston Gates are partners Jeff Schwartz and John Wallen III, of counsel Lawrence Sung and Mary Webster, and three associates. Pelto says the group made the jump based on 400-lawyer Preston Gates’ “powerful presence in key East and West Coast markets” and “dynamic, progressive outlook.” According to the firm’s Web site, the move leaves McKenna with just three full-time IP partners in D.C. Firm managing director Robert Cassidy could not be reached for comment � Jenna Greene GOING PRIVATE Aitan Goelman, one of the prosecutors in the cases against Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, has joined 75-lawyer Zuckerman Spaeder as a partner in the firm’s D.C. office. Goelman will concentrate on white collar criminal and civil litigation. The 34-year-old spent nine years as a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department. Most recently, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted complex criminal cases, including murder, robbery, and mail, wire, and bank fraud. � Lily Henning LOSS OF SECURITY A former D.C. public interest lawyer pleaded guilty last week to hiding his mother’s death for over 20 years in order to continue collecting her Social Security payments and a government pension. According to prosecutors, Landon Dowdey, 79, stole roughly $130,000 in federal funds since his mother, Dorothy Dowdey, died in 1982. The money was deposited into a joint checking account in both of their names. In 1993, Dowdey asked the Social Security Administration to send his mother’s checks to a new address � that of his D.C. law office. He faces up to 21 months behind bars and $1 million in fines. His lawyer, New York’s Ronald Benjamin, says his client was undone by poor handling of finances. “Landon is an excellent lawyer, but he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag,” Benjamin says. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judith Kidwell and James Cooper prosecuted the case. � Tom Schoenberg

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