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JUDGE REFUSES TO TOSS OUT $959M JUDGMENT FOR POWS A federal judge last week reaffirmed a $959 million civil judgment handed down against Iraq for torturing American soldiers in 1991. Last month, the Justice Department filed a motion to have the judgment thrown out, arguing that President George W. Bush granted sovereign immunity to Iraq in May for crimes committed by the Saddam Hussein regime — thereby wiping out any pending civil actions against the former government. On Aug. 6, U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts found the DOJ’s position to be “meritless.” In a 15-page opinion, Roberts noted that Justice waited more than two months before trying to intervene and that there was no evidence that “the judgment in this case may . . . impair or impede the government’s current efforts to promote a democratic government in Iraq, especially now that Saddam Hussein’s regime has ended.” In addition, Roberts ruled that “the defense of sovereign immunity could be asserted only by Iraq, not by the United States” and pointed out that the DOJ stated in its brief that it was not acting on behalf of Iraq. DOJ spokesman Charles Miller says the department is still reviewing the ruling and has not yet decided whether to appeal. Steptoe & Johnson partner Stephen Fennell, who represents the 17 ex-POWs and their families, says, “We have a live judgment and we’re moving forward with it.” Roberts awarded Fennell’s clients $653 million in compensatory damages and $306 million in punitive damages in July. Still, there’s no telling when, if ever, the plaintiffs will receive any money. On July 30, Roberts ruled that the former POWs could not obtain payment from the nearly $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets seized by the United States. The decision has been appealed by Fennell. The administration’s involvement has grabbed the attention of some members of Congress, including Sens. George Allen (R-Va.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Both were upset to learn that the president used a little-noticed provision in an emergency supplemental appropriations bill to keep the assets from the ex-POWs. “To do so,” wrote Allen in an Aug. 4 letter to the Treasury Department, “undercut[s] the vital, longer-term objectives of deterring terrorist acts against American citizens and achieving accountability against terrorist states which target Americans and which have tortured American POWs in war after war.” — Tom Schoenberg GAINFULLY UNEMPLOYED For new lawyers, finding a job out of law school is getting a little more difficult. That’s the conclusion of a new survey by the National Association of Law Placement on job prospects for the class of 2002. For the second year in a row, the unemployment rate for freshly minted J.D.s was on the rise. The survey of 175 law schools found that 89 percent of graduates in 2002 had landed jobs, compared with 90 percent in 2001 and with 91.5 percent in 2000. Still, new lawyers today are having an easier time than those who graduated in the early and mid-1990s, when just 84 to 85 percent secured jobs. The study also found that although average starting salaries for new graduates increased overall, law firm starting salaries remained stagnant — with a median of $90,000 nationwide — for the first time since 1996. Demographic patterns were also clear: Fewer African-Americans — 47 percent — took jobs in private practice, compared with 60 percent of whites, Asians, or Pacific Islanders. The survey also found women were slightly more likely than men to take public sector jobs. — Marie Beaudette NEW ROOST A four-lawyer telecommunications and regulatory group has flown the Alston & Bird coop for the Washington office of Venable. The group is led by Frederick Joyce, who will chair Venable’s telecom practice. Christine McLaughlin and Ronald Quirk Jr. join Venable as of counsel, and Ellen Traupman comes on as an associate. Joyce last year handled private equity fund Cerberus Capital’s $150 million acquisition of Teleglobe, once Canada’s only long-distance provider, in one of the largest deals of its kind. Joyce says Venable’s work on Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission matters coupled with its Capitol Hill experience made the firm an attractive move. Ian Volner, who chairs Venable’s regulatory group, says the newcomers will be of “immense benefit” to telecom clients. — Marie Beaudette TIME OFF In the midst of the biggest scandal in the history of Freddie Mac, the mortgage corporation has named in-house lawyer Joan Donoghue acting general counsel. Maud Mater, who has served as general counsel of the home financier for the past 21 years, will be on vacation until early September, according to a Freddie Mac spokesman. The choice of Donoghue, 46, as associate general counsel, bypasses three of Mater’s top deputies, one of whom is also on vacation, according to the spokesman. A July 23 report commissioned by Freddie’s board of directors was critical of the corporation’s in-house lawyers, noting that they were “briefed at length” on transactions known as linked swaps, which effectively transferred 2001 operating earnings of about $420 million to later years. According to the report, written by Baker Botts D.C. managing partner James Doty, Deputy General Counsel Steve Dinces concluded that the transactions would be permissible, provided they satisfied a “legitimate business or risk management effect.” Dinces, 67, has announced he plans to retire. Investigations into Freddie Mac by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are ongoing. Adding to Freddie’s legal woes, on Aug. 8, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, the West Virginia Investment Management Board, and a Teamster fund sued the company in New York federal court, accusing it of misleading investors. Meanwhile, white collar litigator John Dowd, who signed on to represent former Freddie Mac CEO Leland Brendsel in June, has been replaced by Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly. Brendsel turned to Sullivan when Dowd, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was forced to drop the case after two weeks because of a client conflict. — Lily Henning and Jonathan Groner LOUD AND CLEAR D.C. Steptoe & Johnson partners Howard Stahl and Steven Davidson scored a multibillion-dollar judgment for cell phone manufacturer Motorola Inc. After an 18-month court battle, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York ruled on July 31 that the Uzan family, then-owners of Turkish wireless company Telsim, were guilty of fraud and ordered the family to pay $4.26 billion in compensatory and punitive damages. Rakoff found that money the family borrowed from Motorola and Nokia between 1998 and 2000 to help build Telsim was instead used to line the family coffers and to assist other companies in Uzan control. Rakoff also ordered the family, which controls at least 130 companies worldwide, to relinquish controlling interest in Telsim to Motorola and Nokia. The next step for the Motorola team: take the judge’s order to courts around the world to seize and sell frozen Uzan assets to settle the judgment.” It’s been an extraordinary case,” says Stahl, who called it “one of the most massive frauds ever.” — Marie Beaudette GOOD WILL HUNTING In a courtroom clash between two advocacy groups over the right to hunt threatened species abroad, a hunters’ rights group has gotten the better of an animal rights organization. On July 31, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the Fund for Animals lacked standing to challenge the Interior Department’s decision to permit American hunters to bring back argali “trophies” — that is, the heads of dead sheep — from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Tajikistan. The Interior Department lists the argali as a threatened but not endangered species in those places. Interior’s actions “do not authorize the killing of argali,” Kessler wrote; the three Asian countries themselves are responsible for making that decision. Besides, the judge noted, legal hunting by U.S. citizens has brought in revenues and discouraged poaching. Rick Parsons, acting executive director of the hunters’ rights group, Safari Club International, calls the decision “a big victory for wildlife conservation. The [Fund for Animals] threatened the entire system, and we stopped them.” Howard Crystal of D.C.’s Glitzenstein & Meyer, the fund’s lawyer, replies, “We believe that the plaintiffs do have standing, that this remains a very important case on the merits, and we do intend to pursue it further.” — Jonathan Groner IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time for a lesson on . . . patent interference. Air passengers are getting a taste of Washington lawyering thanks to in-flight “news segments” on Sky Radio Network Inc. Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt chemical and biotechnology patent prosecutor James Kelly will be featured this fall discussing patent interference proceedings on American, Northwest, and United Airlines. Other lawyers, including Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn environmental law partner Stanley Abramson, have also recently been featured on in-flight programming, which lawyers pay to participate in. Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky corporate and finance partner George Boggs took marketing to the next level with a spot on international trade that aired on several airlines in June. He says his pitch to seat-bound business travelers was valuable — but not exactly Hollywood fare. “Who wants to listen to someone talk about export controls when you have some great tunes to listen to?” — Lily Henning FORE! As a send-off for its outgoing class of summer associates, the Northern Virginia office of Pillsbury Winthrop put a new spin on the traditional golf outing — namely, they didn’t go out. Instead, a golf course was constructed entirely within the walls of the McLean office. The course, complete with hazards such as computer keyboards, file cabinets, and shredded paper, was described as “sadistic” in a firm press release. A remote control car, a Barbie doll, and a large pink castle also dotted the makeshift links. Managing partner William Atkins, who made the participants blow on a quacking duck bill at each missed shot, calls the game a “unique team-building experience.” Everyone “contributed to the game with excitement,” he says. The winner, with a whopping 127: Eric Herbst, a student at William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law. — Marie Beaudette

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