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YET ANOTHER TWIST IN D.C. COURT POLITICS The politics of nominating judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has long been baroque. But the widely anticipated selection of California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown has added a whole new level of complexity. A key question is how many vacancies President George W. Bush is really trying to fill. The court is authorized to have 12 judges, but hasn’t had that many in more than a decade. In the Clinton era, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and other GOP senators said the court wasn’t busy enough to justify having so many members. With the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the court still stalled in the Senate and the nomination of associate White House counsel Brett Kavanaugh expected shortly, Brown would seem to be in line for the elusive 12th seat. But Grassley, a Judiciary Committee member of the president’s party, says through a spokeswoman, “My position remains the same: There is no justification for filling the 12th seat. But in view of the continuing filibuster against Estrada, I don’t see a problem sending up other nominees to fill the 10th or 11th slots.” So would a Brown nomination mean that the White House is implicitly conceding that the Estrada nomination is dead? Is the conservative Californian actually being picked for the 11th seat? In an alternative scenario, the choices of Brown and Kavanaugh, a former deputy to then-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, could be intended to shore up the Estrada nomination by showing Senate Democrats that the alternative candidates have more clearly conservative records. White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee says she will not discuss nominations that haven’t been made. Liberal groups are prepared to oppose both Brown and Kavanaugh, although they’re not backing off on Estrada. “Brown has a much more established record than Estrada that paints her as far to the right on many issues,” says Elliot Mincberg of People for the American Way. Adds Marcia Kuntz of the Alliance for Justice: “What we know about Kavanaugh is that he wrote the Starr report and has been active in the White House in picking judicial nominees who are extremists.” Mincberg says the fact that Brown, 54, is an African-American woman will not shield her from exacting scrutiny by liberals. “She has been an incredibly controversial judge in California and has drawn opposition from civil rights groups there,” he says. — Jonathan Groner TAX THY NEIGHBOR Sick of being short-changed by home rule, the District of Columbia and some of its residents are taking the government to court. In a lawsuit to be filed this week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a group of seasoned Washington lawyers are challenging the constitutionality of the 1973 Home Rule Act prohibiting nonresident taxation. Each year, the city loses out on as much as $1.4 billion that could be reaped by taxing the 500,000 workers who commute from Virginia and Maryland. Howrey Simon Arnold & White partner John Nields, D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Walter Smith, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Senior Counsel Lois Williams, Gilbert Heintz & Randolph partner Gary Thompson, and White & Case partner Carolyn Lamm represent D.C. residents, the city, and Mayor Anthony Williams in the suit. All are working pro bono. D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty (D-Ward 4) has written a letter to President George W. Bush asking that the Justice Department not defend the law, which he calls “unconstitutional on its face.” The attorneys general of Maryland and Virginia, J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Jerry Kilgore, say they are waiting to review the suit before deciding how to proceed. “I certainly would not support the imposition of tax on Marylanders,” Curran says, adding his office will consider filing an amicus brief in the case. — Alicia Upano DOJ BOUND Senate Judiciary Committee Chief Counsel Makan Delrahim, 33, is leaving his post to serve as deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. Prior to joining the Judiciary Committee in 1998, Delrahim was an intellectual property, antitrust, and international trade associate at Patton Boggs. Delrahim replaces William Kolasky, who left the DOJ to co-chair the antitrust group at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, where he had practiced from 1979 until 2001. — Lily Henning TRUST BUST Through two presidential administrations, the efforts of U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to force the Interior Department to fix the accounting of its Indian trust program have generally been OK’d by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. No more. On July 18, a unanimous court panel struck down Lamberth’s contempt findings against Secretary Gale Norton and then-Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb. The opinion by Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg rejected Lamberth’s finding that Norton had committed “fraud on the court” in her regular progress reports on trust reform. Since Lamberth didn’t find that Norton knew her reports were false and misleading, the court said, he shouldn’t have cited her for merely painting “an overly sunny picture” of the department’s progress. As for other errors and delays, they occurred before Norton took office, the appeals court pointed out. “This is a landmark decision,” says Norton lawyer Herbert Fenster of McKenna Long & Aldridge. “It holds that a sitting Cabinet member can’t be charged with criminal contempt for the actions of a predecessor. It vindicates my client and permits her to start with a clean slate.” In another slap at Lamberth, the circuit also canceled his appointment of a special master. It found that Lamberth violated the separation of powers by granting the master “an investigative, quasi-inquisitorial, quasi-prosecutorial role that is unknown to our adversarial legal system.” Dennis Gingold, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, says, “Fortunately, this decision doesn’t affect our case-in-chief.” — Jonathan Groner HOWREY’S RECOVERY A bicoastal team from Howrey Simon Arnold & White scored a $383 million jury verdict on July 15 for the International Paper Co., the latest win in an insurance recovery saga that began nearly a decade ago. D.C. partner Robert Shulman and L.A.’s Thomas Nolan and Joanne Caruso have guided International Paper through a morass that began in 1994. The company and its subsidiary, Masonite Inc., were sued in Alabama state court in a $40 billion class action alleging that Masonite sold defective siding for houses. International eventually settled the suit and has paid claimants $460 million to date. In 1995, the company sued 27 of its insurers in San Francisco Superior Court when they refused to pay the claims. A jury awarded International $93 million in 2001. Arbitration with three more insurance companies could result in another $200 million for his client, says Shulman, co-chair of Howrey’s insurance recovery group. — Lily Henning BENCHED President George W. Bush has picked D.C prosecutor Craig Iscoe for a 15-year slot on the D.C. Superior Court bench. Iscoe, 50, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section in the District, was nominated to fill the slot vacated by the retirement of Judge Frederick Dorsey. Since November, Iscoe has been detailed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and is currently an acting assistant chief litigation counsel at the agency. From 1997 to 2001, he was stationed at Main Justice, where he worked for then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on national security and internal policy matters. Kevin Ohlson, who worked with Iscoe in both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Main Justice, says Iscoe will be a fair judge despite his career prosecutorial background. “Craig’s always been willing to wrestle with the knotty issue of what’s the right thing to do in a particular case,” says Ohlson, deputy director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Iscoe, who must be confirmed by the Senate, declines comment. — Tom Schoenberg VIVE LA FRANCE Patton Boggs is dipping its toes in the European market, teaming up with Paris firm De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés. “Rather than randomly referring clients to other lawyers,” says Stuart Pape, Patton Boggs managing partner, “this is a way for us to build a relationship.” While De Gaulle Fleurance, a 15-lawyer firm known for its intellectual property and restructuring practices, will help Patton Boggs clients in Europe, the Washington-based lobbying powerhouse will handle American legal matters for the Paris firm’s clients. “I think increasingly, and properly so, clients that do business in different parts of the world look for law firms that will help them solve their problems in multiple jurisdictions,” Pape says. He expects the firm’s pharmaceutical, intellectual property, and new technology practices, among others, to be strengthened by the partnership. — Marie Beaudette MCGUIRE’S HIRE McGuireWoods in New York has hired James Ricciardi, the former counsel for the Enron creditors’ committee, from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Admittedly “getting tired of Enron,” Ricciardi says he saw an opportunity to help expand McGuireWoods’ bankruptcy and restructuring practice. “It’s a highly competent group that’s worked on a lot of big cases,” he says, including US Airway’s Chapter 11 reorganization. — Marie Beaudette IN MOURNING The D.C. legal community is mourning the death of Charles “Chuck” Reischel, former appellate chief of the Office of the D.C. Corporation Counsel. Reischel, 60, who retired earlier this month, died July 15 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. For the past 23 years, Reischel worked at the city’s legal shop, much of the time as the deputy corporation counsel charged with deciding how the office should argue matters before local and federal appellate courts. His name appears as counsel of record for the District on more than 1,800 published appellate court decisions, according to Peter Lavallee, a spokesman for the D.C. Corporation Counsel. Before that, he worked for eight years as counsel to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “Chuck was one of the jewels in the Corporation Counsel office,” says John Payton, a partner at D.C.’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering who was corporation counsel from 1991 to 1994. “I quickly came to appreciate his strengths as a lawyer and as someone who would always say what he thinks is going on.” In 1991, Reischel was honored for his government service with the D.C. Bar’s Beatrice Rosenberg Award. — Tom Schoenberg

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