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PRESIDING OFFICER: CUT 2 FROM GITMO PANEL The presiding officer of a military commission created to hear cases against suspected terrorists at the U.S. Naval Base at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, has recommended that two military officers be removed from the panel. In a memo to appointing authority John Altenburg Jr. released last week, presiding officer Army Col. Peter Brownback III urged the removal of Air Force Lt. Col. Timothy Toomey and Army Lt. Col. Curt Cooper. Brownback, a retired Army judge, concluded that Toomey’s work as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan might affect his judgment. With regard to Cooper, the panel’s alternate member, Brownback wrote that statements made by the Army officer characterizing Guant�namo Bay detainees as “terrorists” could raise questions about his impartiality. Brownback’s memo was filed in response to defense objections to four of the five commission members, as well as the sole alternate. Brownback himself was among those challenged. Military commissions must have a minimum of three members and one alternate, so cases may be delayed if more than two panel members are disqualified. Altenburg will make the final decision on whether to remove panel members. Lawyers for detainees David Hicks of Australia and Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen sought to disqualify Brownback on several grounds, including his close personal friendship with Altenburg. Brownback did not make a formal recommendation on the challenges to his own participation, but stated that he could see nothing “which might cause a reasonable person to believe that I could not provide a full or fair trial.” Brownback suggested two additional commission members challenged by defense lawyers � including Marine Col. R. Thomas Bright, who coordinated the transport of detainees from Afghanistan to Guant�namo Bay in early 2002 � be permitted to stay on the panel. “[Col. Bright's] ‘knowledge’ of the matters involved in this case was that of a busy Joint Operations Center officer whose primary concern was with providing airlift and getting country clearances for that airlift. . . . He has no knowledge of or specific information about why any specific detainee was being transported,” Brownback wrote. But Joshua Dratel, a civilian lawyer representing Hicks, says Brownback’s memo overlooks “serious problems.” “The authority and impact of Col. Brownback’s recommendations . . . are somewhat compromised because we have challenged him as well,” Dratel says. Prosecutors accuse Hicks of affiliating with al Qaeda, attending multiple terrorist training camps, and fighting in Afghanistan on the side of the Taliban. Hamdan is accused of serving as a bodyguard and driver to Osama bin Laden. Oral arguments on legal motions in the cases are scheduled to begin Nov. 2. � Vanessa Blum LABOR PAINS It’s an unlikely marriage: a labor union that counts nursing home and day care workers among its members and dozens of judges and private firm lawyers who teach part time at the George Washington University Law School. But on Oct. 22, ballots of part-time faculty members at GW will be counted for a vote to join the Service Employees International Union. Monroe Freedman, a legal ethics expert at Hoftstra University School of Law, says if the instructors join the union, judges who teach at GW will have to recuse themselves in cases involving SEIU. Joining the union could mean better pay and benefits � although this is not an issue for many adjunct law professors who are either judges or practicing lawyers, says GW’s labor counsel, Jay Krupin, of D.C.’s Krupin O’Brien. GW spokeswoman Tracy Schario says the university is concerned the union will be a “one-size-fits-all solution” for a diverse part-time faculty that includes instructors with full-time jobs. Calls to several adjunct law professors were not returned by press time. � Lily Henning PILL PRACTICE Not wanting to be left out of the feeding frenzy, a New Jersey-based personal injury firm, Bagolie Friedman, which bills itself as the “preferred legal firm of everyday Americans,” has started the first international practice group devoted entirely to Vioxx litigation. The arthritis drug Vioxx was pulled from the shelves at the end of last month after its use was connected to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. The two-person group remains in its infancy and has about a half-dozen Vioxx cases, says partner Ricky Bagolie, but he anticipates eventually reaching 100. Other plaintiffs firms, like Alabama’s Beasley Allen, have been engaged in Vioxx litigation since before the recall and that firm already has some 2,500 Vioxx cases. Chris Loder, a spokesman for Merck, Vioxx’s manufacturer, says that while the company anticipates more suits, “we continue to believe we have strong and meritorious defenses.” � Bethany Broida SALARY SIGNALS While the recent announcement of hefty interim bonuses at one of New York’s largest law firms may be an indicator of good things to come for associates, it does not yet appear to be inspiring copycats. Sullivan & Cromwell announced it is giving first-year associates $10,000 and its senior associates $20,000 as interim bonuses. Although an announcement of increases in associate salaries or bonuses historically sets off a game of follow-the-leader among competing firms on both coasts, many appear to be proceeding with caution � at least for now. Even so, Sullivan & Cromwell’s announcement could mark an end to a reining in of associate pay in recent years. Retaining bright associates is becoming particularly important for top-ranked firms as the economy improves, says Martha Fay Africa of Major, Hagen & Africa, an attorney recruiter. “They’ll bump their salaries if they think it’s the competitive thing to do,” she says. And as to whether other firms will follow the lead of Sullivan? “Most law firms are just like lemmings,” Africa says. � Leigh Jones, The National Law Journal HAWKE’S FLIGHT Longtime Arnold & Porter leader John Hawke returned to the firm last week after retiring as comptroller of the currency in the Treasury Department, a position responsible for oversight of the nation’s banks. Hawke, who also served as undersecretary of the treasury for domestic finance, says he leaves a robust national banking system and a regulatory agency in “extremely good health.” One matter that raised the agency’s profile was the scandal surrounding D.C.-based Riggs Bank. In congressional testimony last year, Hawke said that his agency’s supervision of Riggs hadn’t been rigorous enough, after it was discovered that the bank failed to comply with federal anti-money-laundering regulations. He calls Riggs a “very unhappy situation,” but adds that the agency he headed eventually took tough action against the bank by leveling a record fine of $25 million. The chairman of Arnold & Porter between 1987 and 1995, Hawke first joined the firm in 1962 when it had 25 lawyers. “It’s the firm I grew up with,” Hawke says. “It’s like coming home.” Julie Williams, formerly Hawke’s deputy, took over as acting comptroller Oct. 14. � Lily Henning GONE GREEN Civil lawsuits filed by the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency under anti-pollution laws dropped more than 75 percent during the first three years of the Bush administration, according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project, an advocacy group. “The full weight of the law has gotten a lot lighter over the past three years,” says Eric Schaeffer, who penned the report and headed the EPA’s Office of Regulatory Enforcement under former President Bill Clinton. (In a written statement, an EPA spokeswoman termed the report “an inaccurate characterization of our enforcement efforts.”) Several members of D.C.’s environmental bar contacted by Legal Times acknowledged a drop in EPA enforcement suits, but say their workloads are still weighty enough. Tami Azorsky, who practices environmental law at McKenna, Long & Aldridge, says the drop has shifted the field’s focus. “The nature of the work has changed,” she says. “There’s still a lot of counseling and defense of private litigation.” Baker BottsDan Steinway says that though the volume of EPA litigation may have decreased, the size and scope of the cases the agency does litigate has grown. And Theodore Garrett of Covington & Burling says the drop in work from federal litigation has been made up for in part by “more emphasis on state enforcement,” particularly in New York and New England. � Jason McLure CABIN PRESSURE The nation’s leading gay Republican group went to federal court last week, seeking to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on the ground that it violates constitutional rights. “Public opinion, the experience of our allies and the national security interests of our nation all lead to the inescapable conclusion that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly and honestly in our military,” Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the D.C.-based Log Cabin Republicans, said in a prepared statement. Lawyers with the Los Angeles office of White & Case filed the suit in the L.A.-based U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit, which asks that the government be permanently enjoined from enforcing the policy, contends that recent case law including the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas � which struck down anti-sodomy laws � requires the courts to reconsider the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” � Mike McKee, The Recorder BOOSTING BINGHAM Bingham McCutchen, hoping to benefit from the hot intellectual property litigation sector on the East Coast, has added two partners in its Washington office. Gary Hnath and Fei-Fei Chao joined the firm last month from the D.C. office of Venable. This follows five additions to the IP group in the firm’s New York office, making it 75 lawyers in the in the IP group. “Our department is running very hot right now,” says Christopher Hockett, IP litigation and patent prosecution practice co-chair. “Revenues are up [and] people are very busy.” Hnath primarily litigates IP cases at the International Trade Commission, and Chao focuses on biotechnology and pharmaceutical patent prosecution and some litigation. The two also have a strong client base in China and Taiwan, Hnath says. “Our clients are looking increasingly for a firm with a strong national presence and a firm that has an international outlook as well,” Hnath says. Despite the departures, William Coston, Venable’s D.C. managing partner, says his firm’s IP practice has never been stronger. � Christine Hines TAKING OVER Jay Yurow, a partner in Venable‘s real estate practice has taken the helm of the firm’s Northern Virginia office as partner in charge, replacing John Milliken, who held the post for five years. Under Milliken’s leadership, the outpost almost doubled in size to 46 attorneys. “We have done really well over the past two decades, and we have watched as some other firms have come and gone,” Yurow says. The job, he says, “is to continue to help grow the office . . . and learn how to stay out of the way of my very capable partners.” � Bethany Broida

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