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IN RARE RULING, JUDGE SAYS PLAINTIFF MUST GET PSYCH EXAM A federal judge last week ordered a plaintiff in a civil case to undergo a mental health exam to determine if she is competent to fire her attorney. In an extraordinary move, U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ruled that D.C.-area architect Elena Sturdza must be examined by a licensed psychiatrist. The judge ordered Sturdza and her lawyer, Nathan Lewin of D.C.’s Lewin & Lewin, to submit two names each of licensed psychiatrists by Sept. 2. The order rejects an earlier recommendation by a magistrate judge who noted that litigants have a fundamental right to proceed pro se. Sturdza is seeking millions from the United Arab Emirates and D.C. designer Angelos Demetriou & Associates for allegedly stealing her work. She hired Lewin after her case was dismissed in the U.S. District Court. Lewin then succeeded in reviving the action before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Soon thereafter, Lewin claimed his client was acting irrationally, and requested appointment of a guardian ad litem to determine how the case should proceed. Lewin says that Sturdza forbade him from discussing a possible settlement with the defendants and would not allow him to continue with the case as directed by the appellate court. Sturdza fired Lewin � accusing him of not litigating the case the way she requested. In court papers, Lewin, who had taken the case on a contingent fee basis, claims he has a financial stake in its outcome and if Sturdza is allowed to proceed pro se, she will lose. In his Aug. 26 order, Kennedy wrote: “Ms. Sturdza’s ability to adequately protect her interests in the instant litigation is subject to question.” The judge noted Sturdza refused to appear at two hearings to show cause why a psychiatric exam should not be ordered. Kennedy also wrote that “Lewin has proceeded with integrity and has tirelessly attempted to advance Ms. Sturdza’s legitimate interests.” Lewin declines comment. Sturdza, who says she has not seen the order, says she will not submit to an exam. She notes that she told the court that she would not be available for court proceedings until after Nov. 15. “The judge and Mr. Lewin are destroying my reputation,” Sturdza says. “I will never be able to hold onto a client. I see it as a criminal act.” John King, who represents Demetriou, declines comment. UAE’s lawyer, Haig Kalbian, could not be reached for comment. � Tom Schoenberg ACCOUNTING FIRM EXODUS? The Sarbanes-Oxley Act may end up driving lawyers at accounting firms into the welcoming arms of law firms eager to bolster their tax practices. Take Michael Solomon. On Sept. 1, he and five other attorneys join Shaw Pittman from PricewaterhouseCoopers Washington National Tax Services. A specialist in tax controversy � that is, representing clients during Internal Revenue Service audits and in litigation � Solomon says he and his colleagues made the move after it became clear they would start losing clients due to Sarbanes-Oxley restrictions. Passed in 2002, the act overhauled securities laws and accounting rules. Among the provisions: a ban on accounting firms providing legal services to their audit clients � a major source of business for Big Four tax lawyers. “The accounting firms were really in the lead for handling tax controversy work for these [audit]clients,” Solomon says. But post-Sarbanes-Oxley, “law firms are going to be able to get this work as easy as an accounting firm,” he says. Solomon, who has more than 25 years of tax experience under his belt, joined PricewaterhouseCoopers about two years ago from D.C.’s Ivins, Phillips & Barker to develop a tax controversy practice. But now that he’s essentially cut off from much of the work, he says it made more sense to go back to a law firm. “You’ll find that there are a lot of people both in PricewaterhouseCoopers and a lot of accounting firms who have come to a similar conclusion,” he says. With the addition of the PwC group, Shaw Pittman now has about 30 tax lawyers. Solomon and Elizabeth Askey join the firm as partners; William Warren and James Ramsey are senior counsel; and Regina Staudacher and Eric Lucas join as associates. The group’s clients include several Fortune 100 companies. Solomon says Shaw Pittman’s vision to be modern and technologically savvy attracted them to the firm. “We’re available to our clients 24-7, anywhere in the world,” he says. � Marie Beaudette MOVING ON After 31 years with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, Director Alan Morrison says the lure of a teaching offer from Stanford University and the sense that it was time for a change help explain his decision to quit at the end of 2003. But the 65-year-old Morrison, confirming rumors of his discontent with the organization, acknowledges he might have stayed longer if not for “disagreements with various people in the management of Public Citizen.” Morrison, a visionary public interest lawyer with major Supreme Court victories under his belt, says he got frustrated going to too many internal meetings where his suggestions went unheeded � not on policy direction but on “internal management and tactics.” He would not be more specific, nor would longtime friend and colleague Dr. Sidney Wolfe, who heads Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. Wolfe did say the issues Morrison has raised are “being taken very seriously. But nothing has really been resolved.” Longtime President Joan Claybrook declines comment on Morrison’s complaints, but praises Morrison as a “real force for change in the legal profession.” Ralph Nader founded Public Citizen in 1971, but no longer has a formal role in the organization. � Tony Mauro EYE SPY Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will make his first public appearance in more than 16 years in a hearing before Chief Judge Thomas Hogan in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sept. 2. Pollard’s pro bono attorneys Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman of New York’s Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle are challenging his life sentence and seeking access to sealed portions of the trial record. According to the defense, Pollard’s sentence is too harsh and violates a plea agreement reached with the government. In briefs requesting oral argument, Lauer and Semmelman claim they have been unfairly barred from reviewing relevant materials in the court docket despite having obtained the requisite top secret security clearance. “For years, those opposed to executive relief for Pollard have engaged in a campaign of disinformation,” the lawyers state in their brief. Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Columbia Robert Okun, the chief of the special proceedings division, and Steven Pelak, a senior lawyer in the transnational and major crimes section, note in their pleadings that the court has denied defense motions for access to classified materials on three prior occasions. Pollard’s presence at the procedural hearing was ordered by Judge Hogan. � Vanessa Blum SWAN SONG Michael Markarian is hoping to win a permanent stay of execution � for Maryland’s swans, that is. Markarian is president of the Fund for Animals, a Silver Spring, Md., animal advocacy group that is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Interior Department for permitting Maryland to kill most of its mute swan population. Meyer & Glitzenstein associate Amy Atwood and partners Howard Crystal and Jonathan Lovvorn are representing the fund and several Maryland and New England residents in oral arguments on Sept. 2 before Judge Emmet Sullivan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Atwood says the agencies failed to consider viable alternatives to shooting the birds, and that killing them will not fulfill the government’s stated purpose: to revive the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem that has declined, in part, because of the swans’ voracious appetite. The plaintiffs’ complaint states that shooting the birds would decrease the opportunity to observe the swans, “ruining the aesthetic beauty, sanctity, peacefulness, and serenity of migratory birds and their habitats.” Fund members also “fear for their personal safety and safety of their children” when the birds are being hunted, and object to witnessing “the killing of birds or dead, wounded, or dying animals.” Department of Justice attorneys Robert Gulley and Mary Neumayr are representing the government. Gulley declines comment. � Alicia Upano PAY TO SAY Lawyers for the tobacco industry did not violate D.C. Bar ethics rules when they agreed to pay the attorney fees for a witness after he had been deposed, according to an Aug. 15 ruling by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler. Late last year, the Justice Department lodged the accusation in a civil suit against seven major tobacco companies and trade groups. The DOJ’s tobacco litigation team claimed industry lawyers violated the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct when they agreed to pay more than $7,000 in legal fees incurred by T.C. Tso, an 85-year-old scientist who studied tobacco for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was later a paid consultant for the Philip Morris Co. (now called Altria Group Inc.). According to court papers, DOJ lawyers argued that the payment would be improper because the decision to pick up Tso’s attorney fees was made after he was deposed. Kessler found no wrongdoing: “There is no evidence � other than pure speculation by the Government � that Dr. Tso had any belief whatsoever that reimbursement of his attorney’s fees hinged on the favorable content of his testimony,” the judge wrote. �Tom Schoenberg CONNOLLY’S CRUSADE It’s not an easy task to take on the government’s top lawyer, especially if you’re doing it for free. Thomas Connolly, a white collar defense specialist at 18-lawyer telecom boutique Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, is doing just that, representing Steven Hatfill pro bono in the scientist’s suit against Attorney General John Ashcroft. Hatfill, who has been described as a “person of interest” in the investigation of the deadly 2001 anthrax attacks, last week sued Ashcroft, accusing the attorney general of violating his constitutional rights and making him a scapegoat for the investigation. Connolly, a former prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia, says he’s been Hatfill’s lawyer for about a year. “I was greatly troubled by how the Department of Justice and the FBI, organizations for whom I’ve had great admiration, deviated from their own procedures and violated their own laws in their investigation,” he says. � Marie Beaudette

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