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IN RIGHT-TO-DIE CASE, A QUESTION OF TIMING No, it wasn’t a replay of the 2000 Florida election litigation you saw Aug. 31 on C-SPAN. It was the same Florida Supreme Court on view, but the justices were hearing the tangled case of Terri Schiavo, the St. Petersburg woman who has been in a vegetative state since suffering a heart attack 14 years ago. At issue was whether the Florida legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush violated separation of powers by swiftly passing and signing “Terri’s law” last October to allow Bush to order reattachment of her feeding and hydration tubes, six days after a judge had ordered them to be removed. During the 40-minute argument, it seemed most justices thought the law did encroach on judicial power by in effect overriding a final court order. “Isn’t it a cardinal principle of separation of powers that a legislature cannot reverse a court decision once it has been made?” Justice Charles Wells asked at one point. As with the 2000 election cases, D.C. lawyers participated significantly. “I’m not real optimistic,” said Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law professor Robert Destro, who fielded the questions from the bench as he defended the law on behalf of Gov. Bush. “It’s a really active bench, but I’d rather have them climb over me than sit like bumps on a log.” Destro was recruited for the arguments just two weeks earlier, when it appeared that Tampa lawyer Kenneth Connor, who represented Bush at earlier stages, might have to be out of state for a trial. At the last minute, Connor was able to attend and shared the 20 minutes with Destro. “When you get past the thunder and lightning of separation of powers, this is really a due process case,” says Destro, who took on the case pro bono. Terri Schiavo has never had adequate representation for her interests, Destro says. Challenging the law was Schiavo’s husband and guardian, Michael, who wanted the feeding tubes removed according to her wishes, he says. The woman’s parents insist she would want the feeding to continue. “This legislation was passed in a matter of hours,” says Jenner & Block D.C. partner Thomas Perrelli, part of Michael Schiavo’s legal team before the Florida Supreme Court. “Many of the legislators now say they regret it.” George Felos, the Dunedin, Fla., lawyer who argued for Michael Schiavo before the Florida Supreme Court, recruited Jenner to help — also pro bono — soon after the law was passed. “I think it was because of our representation in the Lawrence case,” Perrelli says, referring to the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court landmark case Lawrence v. Texas, in which the firm argued successfully in favor of gay rights. — Tony Mauro MIXED MESSAGE Allegations, anonymously sourced, that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee had been a possible conduit for passing top secret information on to Israel broke two days before the Republican National Convention and only intensified as the week went on. AIPAC, a lobbying powerhouse with close ties to Israel and to the Bush administration, vehemently denied criminal wrongdoing. AIPAC already had several large events planned in New York, and the chatter created by the charges drew far more attention to AIPAC than it would normally get. “There was a lot of buzz,” notes Jess Hordes, the Anti-Defamation League‘s top Washington lobbyist. “People were talking about it.” And in generally sympathetic terms. Turnout by the dozens of political invitees, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was undiminished. AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr told guests at an Aug. 31 event that it was more important than ever to support the group, according to one person in attendance. — T.R. Goldman, Influence GETTING GLOBAL The World Bank is actively scouting for lawyers and has attracted one Arnold & Porter partner in its campaign. Last week, Vijay Tata, formerly of A&P’s New York office, began his work as chief counsel of the bank’s finance, private sector, and infrastructure group. Tata beat out 100 other applicants for the position, says Roberto Danino, the bank’s senior vice president and general counsel. Danino says the agency is in “heavy recruitment mode.” Among other positions, the bank is recruiting lawyers to head the judicial reform and environment units. He says Tata is earning a fraction of his old salary. “You’re doing this because you’re given the opportunity of touching people’s lives,” says Danino, who was previously a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. — Christine Hines GOODBYE GIFT Senior Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who left last week after 22 years on the federal bench, was never known for quick decision making. In an effort to close out cases before his departure, Jackson acted on several outstanding motions — two of which had been awaiting a decision for more than four years. One of them was a Freedom of Information Act action filed against the Office of Independent Counsel and the FBI in 1987. Paul Goldstein, the pro se plaintiff, had been waiting since February 2000 for Jackson to rule on the government’s motion for summary judgment. The wait was even longer for Shauna Lawrence, who sued the State Department in 1994 seeking records on the late artist Rockwell Kent that she planned to use to write a thesis paper. Summary judgment motions in the Kent case were filed in June 1998. In both, Jackson found for the government and dismissed the cases. D.C. lawyer James Lesar, who represents Lawrence, says he likely will seek reconsideration. Jackson couldn’t be reached for comment. — Tom Schoenberg LABOR PAINS The suspension from the Tennessee Bar of lawyer Edward Slavin has resulted in the airing of some dirty laundry at the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. Slavin, an attorney who represented corporate whistleblowers before the federal administrative body, was suspended Aug. 27 for two years by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The decision stemmed from a separate 127-page order earlier this year permanently banning him from appearing before the OALJ. That order accused Slavin of repeatedly insulting and harassing judges, lying in court, filing frivolous complaints, and refusing to comply with court orders. One of the more colorful charges against Slavin was leveled by OALJ Chief Judge John Vittone, who stated that Slavin had left voice mails referring to an opposing lawyer as a “redneck peckerwood” and to others as “Nazis.” Leaping to Slavin’s defense was Vittone’s predecessor as chief judge, Nahum Litt, for whom Slavin worked as a law clerk and for whom Vittone served as deputy chief judge. Litt accused his successor of having a “personal vendetta” against Slavin. “They’ve been out to get him,” Litt says, though he admits that Slavin is “disagreeable, he’s not a nice guy.” When contacted, Vittone refused to comment other than to say that the Tennessee decision “speaks for itself.” Slavin vows to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. — Jason McLure PATENT PURLOIN Pillsbury Winthrop bulked up its IP practice with the addition of 11 patent attorneys and support staff from the Northern Virginia office of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. The move includes “substantially all of Mintz Levin’s patent group,” says James Gatto, former co-chair of the practice, who joined Pillsbury as a partner. Along with Gatto comes partner Rick Toering, three associates, two patent law clerks, a patent specialist, and three support staff. Mintz, Levin’s director of public relations, Gina Addis, says that the firm still has a strong presence in Northern Virginia. “Their departure does not in any way alter the firm’s patent capabilities,” Addis says, declining to provide details. Mintz, Levin’s Web site says four lawyers now make up the intellectual property group in its Reston office. One is identified as specializing in patent law. — Bethany Broida FREEZE FRAME In late August, lawyers for Australian alleged enemy combatant David Hicks, held at the U.S. naval base at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, agreed to a military commission trial date of Jan. 10, 2005, in their client’s case. Now, Hicks’ defense team is attempting to ensure the trial never happens. Last week, Hicks’ attorneys asked Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to halt the commission’s proceedings, which they call “lawless.” The challenge came in an amended complaint filed by Jenner & Block D.C. partner Marc Goldman in Hicks’ ongoing habeas corpus litigation in D.C. federal court. — Vanessa Blum LEAD SUIT The mother of a 4-year-old boy is suing the District and the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority for $10 million, claiming that her child was brain damaged from lead poisoning. Regina Lewis, who filed suit in D.C. Superior Court on Aug. 11, argues that the District was negligent in failing to notify her of dangerous levels of lead in her home and water supply. In March, Lewis’ son, Douglas, was admitted to the hospital after tests showed that the amount of lead in his blood was nearly seven times the level the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says is harmful. Lewis’ lawyer, Joseph Espo, says it is too early to tell how much damage was done to Douglas. “He is too young yet to get an I.Q. test, but we expect him to have significant brain damage,” says Espo of Baltimore’s Brown Goldstein & Levy, who is working on the case with D.C. lawyer J. Kenneth Kruvant. Espo says the tap water in Lewis’ home was tested, and the amount of lead present was “well over” standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Tarifah Coaxum, spokesperson for the Office of the D.C. Attorney General, declines comment, saying the office is reviewing the allegations. — Tom Schoenberg FEAR FACTOR The American Civil Liberties Union stepped up its marketing campaign against the USA Patriot Act last week with a 30-second television spot airing on cable news channels. The ad features 21 men and women — all nonactors, according to the ACLU. “The government can search your house,” cautions a tough-looking man standing at what appears to be a loading dock. “Without notifying us,” says a middle-aged woman hanging laundry in her yard. Scary stuff, but is it true? The Patriot Act does authorize so-called sneak-and-peek warrants, which permit law enforcement to delay notification of a search if immediate notice could result in death or injury, evidence tampering, or witness intimidation. The ad doesn’t mention that sneak-and-peek warrants require judicial approval or that all targets must be notified within a reasonable period. Nor does the ad explain that in order to obtain a warrant in the first place, the government must demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed. Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo says the ACLU’s $1.5 million campaign misrepresents “not just the USA Patriot Act, but our criminal justice system.” — Vanessa Blum

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