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DETROIT TERROR PROSECUTOR FIRES BACK AT DOJ Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino is not going down without a fight. On Feb. 13, the veteran Detroit prosecutor accused of misconduct in a high- profile terrorism case unleashed a series of allegations against Justice Department officials in a civil suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The 38-page complaint accuses DOJ leaders of “gross mismanagement” in the war on terror and describes in surprising detail the infighting among line prosecutors and managers over the handling of a case against an alleged Michigan al Qaeda sleeper cell. Convertino was the lead prosecutor in the case, which resulted in the convictions of three men. Those convictions are currently being challenged over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct by Convertino. The civil case has been assigned to Judge Royce Lamberth. The suit alleges that the Justice Department initiated a smear campaign against Convertino last September after learning that the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), was talking with the prosecutor about links between identity fraud and terrorism. In the suit, Convertino claims that Justice officials leaked the name of a confidential informant and details of a DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility investigation to the Detroit Free Press in an effort to discredit the 15-year prosecutor. The disclosure, according to the suit, violated the Privacy Act and a court’s sealing order, and compromised the witness’s safety. While the suit does not specify who leaked the information, it names several DOJ officials — many in the Michigan U.S. Attorney’s Office — who bumped heads with Convertino. Convertino’s lawyer, Stephen Kohn of D.C.’s Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, says his client “vehemently denies” the allegations of misconduct and that he plans to find out who leaked the OPR document, which Kohn says was drafted in Detroit. “In my experience dealing with whistleblowers, most leaks are done with some approval” from supervisors, Kohn says. Convertino is also being represented in the misconduct matter by William Sullivan Jr. of D.C.’s Winston & Strawn. Meanwhile, Convertino remains an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, though he is currently detailed to a Senate drug caucus run by Grassley, Kohn says. Justice spokesman Mark Corallo declines comment on the specific allegations, except to say, “We look forward to answering these allegations in court.” — Tom Schoenberg STARRING ROLE After two and a half years as a top official at the Department of Justice, John Malcolm is heading to Hollywood. On April 5, the deputy assistant attorney general and head of the DOJ’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section is joining the Motion Picture Association of America in Los Angeles. Malcolm will be senior vice president and director of the group’s worldwide anti-piracy effort. Malcolm says he was recruited by MPAACEO Jack Valenti, whom he encountered occasionally at conferences and when they both testified before Congress. While he said he enjoyed working on intellectual property crimes for the DOJ, the new job allows for a broader approach to fighting piracy. The MPAA estimates that piracy costs the U.S. motion picture industry more than $3 billion annually in potential revenue. At the MPAA, Malcolm will work on civil lawsuits, legislative matters, and technology issues, domestically and abroad.” It’s a perfect opportunity. I couldn’t say no,” he says. — Christine Hines HEALTHY MOVES Linda Fishman is the latest player in the passage of the new Medicare law to leave her public post for the private sector. Fishman, chief aide to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), joins the D.C. office of Hogan & Hartson March 1 as a senior health policy adviser. As Congress considered the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, Fishman says she reviewed the “whole spectrum of the bill” and managed the committee’s health staff. Earlier this year, two other heavyweights who worked on the Medicare bill — Thomas Scully, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Colin Roskey, the Senate Finance Committee’s health policy adviser and counsel — joined the D.C. office of Alston & Bird. — Christine Hines HILL SPILLOVER Tempers continue to flare on the Hill over GOP staffers’ alleged dissemination to the media of a pile of Democratic Judiciary Committee memorandums. And the dispute has spilled over into the bar disciplinary system in two different states, with a liberal and a conservative each facing ethics charges. On Dec. 4, conservative activists filed a complaint with the Virginia State Bar against Elaine Jones, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. The complaint, relying on one of the memos allegedly circulated by the Republicans, says that in 2002, Jones asked a senator to delay a hearing on a nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Jones, who was helping represent the University of Michigan, allegedly hoped to keep a conservative off the court when it heard the school’s affirmative-action case. “Ms. Jones’ goal was to influence the outcome of a pending case through means beyond ethical advocacy,” the complaint reads. Jones, who announced Jan. 16 that she would step down from her NAACP post this spring, has brought in David Kendall of Williams & Connolly, former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, and New York University law professor Anthony Amsterdam to represent her. The team last month disputed the charges. On Feb. 12, a conservative was also targeted. Liberal advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked a New York state disciplinary committee to take action against Manuel Miranda, the former Republican Hill staffer who acknowledges reading some of the Democratic strategy memos located on a computer network shared by both parties. Miranda, who resigned Feb. 9 as counsel to the Senate majority leader, did not return calls. But in his resignation statement, he said that “no unlawful, unauthorized hacking” occurred and that documents were “virtually placed on our desks” by Democratic staffers. — Jonathan Groner PHONING IT IN Cingular Wireless called in lawyers from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson and Sullivan & Cromwell to seal its $41 billion all-cash deal for the acquisition of AT&T Wireless. Cingular is jointly held by the BellSouth Corp., represented by Fried, Frank, and SBC Communications Inc., represented by Sullivan. AT&T Wireless used New York’s Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Fried, Frank D.C. partner Alan Kaden and associate Michael Alter handled tax issues for BellSouth. Kaden, who worked on Cingular’s formation in 1999, says there may be more work to do, because merging AT&T’s business into Cingular “may present more challenges from a tax-side than the acquisition itself.” — Marie Beaudette ENERGIZED PRACTICE William Massey, a longtime commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is leaving his government post March 1 for a partnership at Covington & Burling. Massey, a 10-year FERC veteran, will help grow the firm’s energy regulatory and corporate practices, as well as its legislative practice. He joins two other recent additions: Martin Gold, former senior legislative counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and Robert Fleishman, former general counsel of the Constellation Energy Group. Massey expects his practice to focus on advising energy companies on future policy trends in a time of “uncertainty in the marketplace.” Massey will also lobby for the firm on energy-related issues. — Marie Beaudette RECESS RANCOR The announcement by President George W. Bush that he was giving Alabama Attorney General William Pryor Jr. a recess appointment to a federal appeals court was widely interpreted as a slap at liberals who had held up Pryor’s confirmation for almost a year. Liberal groups and Democratic senators have sharply criticized Pryor, 41, for his views on abortion and church-state separation. The appointment, which expires in 2005, was the second this year for a controversial nominee. Bush elevated Charles Pickering Sr. to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit last month. Liberals may soon find themselves researching some arcane constitutional issues: Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way, says it’s “extremely questionable” under the Constitution whether a recess appointment can legally be made in a brief period like the Presidents Day break. — Jonathan Groner A CLEAN SLATE A Morrison & Foerster pro bono team is set to rewrite history. Partner G. Brian Busey and associates Erin-Anne Manning and Joseph Williams seek to correct the records of Henry Plummer, the Army’s first African-American chaplain after the Civil War. Co-counsel Howard Cooley, a retired Army colonel, says Plummer “was drummed out of the military with disgrace” in 1894. Plummer was born into slavery on a Prince George’s County, Md., plantation and became a “proponent of civil rights and social justice,” says Cooley. In 2002, his descendants helped form the Committee to Clear Chaplain Plummer, which now has the support of Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, as well as Frederick Douglass IV, the great-great-grandson of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was Plummer’s friend. The committee filed a 48-page application to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records on Feb. 19, asking to replace Plummer’s dismissal with an honorable discharge. Cooley says Plummer was convicted of “conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman” by an all-white jury, based on a fabricated complaint by a drunk soldier and upheld by a commander who considered Plummer a “disturbing element.” The panel must rule within 10 months. — Alicia Upano NEW IN TOWN Florida’s second-largest law firm, 375-lawyer Akerman Senterfitt, will gain a D.C. presence from its merger with fellow Floridian Katz, Kutter, Alderman & Bryant. Akerman Senterfitt managing partner J. Thomas Cardwell says the firm had been searching for a merger that would give it a D.C. office. Forty-lawyer Katz, Kutter’s D.C. office has only four lawyers. Cardwell expects it to grow following the merger’s completion in late March. Katz, Kutter’s government relations and regulatory practices complement Akerman Senterfitt’s corporate and litigation practices, says Katz, Kutter managing partner Allan Katz. “What we have brought to them was the one area that they needed. What they give us is a large group of services to offer to our clients and, in addition, a new group of clients that we can offer our services to.” — Marie Beaudette

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