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EX-PRESIDENTS BAND TOGETHER TO BASH BAR The D.C. Bar is under fire from the courts and the bar’s former presidents for its handling of a dispute with a Justice Department official. Michael Sitcov, whose law license was suspended in 2002 for nonpayment of bar dues, is suing the D.C. Bar, claiming that his reputation has been damaged because the bar refused to reinstate his license retroactively. Sitcov, an assistant director in the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, says he is under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility for practicing law for two years without a license. Sitcov claims he never received notification about either the dues or the suspension. He paid back the bar last fall and asked to have his license reinstated retroactively, arguing that this would satisfy OPR investigators. On March 14, the bar’s Board of Governors voted 10-7 against retroactive reinstatement. Last week, eight former presidents of the D.C. Bar filed an amicus brief supporting Sitcov and calling the bar’s action”unduly harsh.” “This is not a case where misconduct or the professional competence of the attorney or his ability to serve his client are at issue,” says the brief, which was signed by Sara-Ann Determan, E. Barrett Prettyman Jr., former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, Robert Jordan III, Daniel Rezneck, Jacob Stein, Robert Weinberg, and Charles Work. On April 12, bar officials defended their decision before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals. “It is a mandatory bar, not a club,” said Timothy Webster, general counsel to the bar. Webster explained that bar rules limit retroactive reinstatement only to cases where the bar made an error. The e-mail address for Sitcov on file with the bar was misspelled. Still, Webster argued, there is no evidence the bar failed to notify Sitcov by mail. Judge Frank Schwelb said that the policy appeared to be too rigid. “This seems grossly disproportionate to me,” Schwelb said at the oral argument. Work, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, says the bar should reinstate someone retroactively once their dues are paid. “I’m astonished the bar has stuck to this high-handed rule,” he says. � Tom Schoenberg CHAMBER MUSIC The battle over the Securities and Exchange Commission’s attempt to reconfigure the boards of mutual funds went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on April 15. At stake: requirements adopted by the SEC in August mandating that the chairman of a mutual fund’s board and 75 percent of its directors be independent from the fund’s management company. The changes drew protests from mutual fund companies, a hostile editorial from The Wall Street Journal, and the lawsuit at issue, brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Arguing for the Chamber, Eugene Scalia of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said that the three commissioners who voted for the rule had acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner by dismissing a study sponsored by Fidelity Investments that concluded funds overseen by independent chairmen performed worse than their counterparts. SEC General Counsel Giovanni Prezioso contended that the change was a dose of preventive medicine for an industry reeling from the late-trading and market-timing scandals uncovered by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. � Jason McLure HOT PROSPECT At the end of last week, the name Stephen Cutler was on the lips of securities lawyers, recruiters, even secretaries, after the 43-year-old chief enforcer for the Securities and Exchange Commission announced he was leaving his post next month for the private sector. Few had any idea where Cutler would eventually land, and even fewer wanted to comment publicly, for fear of harming their chances to land him. After three and a half years leading the SEC’s ramped-up campaign against corporate wrongdoing � which included the $750 million WorldCom Inc. settlement, among others � the former partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr isn’t talking about his next move. If Cutler’s recent predecessors are any guide, he may stay close to Wall Street. Two former SEC enforcement chiefs � Gary Lynch and Richard Walker � are general counsel at top investment banks. � Emma Schwartz CONGRESS CALL Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking before a House of Representatives subcommittee last week, defended the independence of the federal judiciary even as he also said that criticism of the courts was “very healthy.” Kennedy’s comments marked the first time a justice has addressed Congress since the spate of criticism of the federal courts generated by the death of Terri Schiavo. Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas appeared for an otherwise routine hearing on the Court’s $66 million budget request for the next fiscal year. The anger toward federal courts brewing among mainly conservative members of Congress surfaced when subcommittee member Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) expressed his concern about Roper v. Simmons. That March 1 ruling, written by Kennedy, struck down the death penalty for juveniles and cited, among other things, international consensus on the issue. Invoking international law went “beyond the rule of law,” Tiahrt said. Kennedy did not respond directly on the issue, but he did say that debate about the role of the courts was “tremendously energizing.” � Tony Mauro DENYING CHRIST John Denver may have considered West Virginia “almost heaven,” but Jesus Christ actually owns land there. D.C. resident Peter Robert Phillips claims he has gone by the name Jesus Christ for 15 years. It’s the name that appears on his D.C. driver’s license, his Social Security card, and his passport. But now Christ’s continued use of the name rests with a higher power � the D.C. courts. According to Christ’s attorney, A.P. Pishevar, his client’s use of the name is an expression of his personal religious beliefs similar to the use of Jesus in Hispanic cultures or Muhammad in Muslim cultures. But in court, Christ’s reasons for seeking an official name change were a bit more secular. Christ, who currently resides in Northeast, told the judge he needed court documentation to obtain a driver’s license in West Virginia, where he owns property. D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Tim Murphy denied Christ’s request on the grounds that “taking the name Jesus Christ may provoke a violent reaction or may significantly offend people.” Now, the D.C. Court of Appeals has given Christ a chance at redemption. The court vacated Murphy’s order and remanded it back to the lower court, finding that Christ was entitled to a hearing on the matter. In an usual twist, John Brennan III, an attorney at Jackson & Campbell, filed a brief with the appeals court in support of Murphy’s decision, arguing that Murphy was within his judicial discretion to deny Christ’s name change. � Bethany Broida GRIFFITH CLOSER As the fight over judicial nominations heats up with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) apparently pushing forward on his campaign to end the judicial filibuster, a lone circuit court nominee managed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Former Senate Legal Counsel Thomas Griffith, whose nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has been marred by controversy over his failure to join the Utah Bar, was voted out of the committee by a vote of 14-4, effectively ensuring his nomination by the full Senate. The panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who voted against Griffith, told the committee that the nomination would not be filibustered on the Senate floor. All 10 Republicans voted for Griffith, now the general counsel of Brigham Young University, as did four of the panel’s eight Democrats: Richard Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, and Charles Schumer of New York. Griffith failed to maintain his D.C. law license while he was Senate legal counsel and when he joined Wiley Rein & Fielding as a partner. He has said that the lapse was an oversight. But it was his decision not to take the Utah bar exam when he became Brigham Young’s GC that caused the most outcry from Senate Democrats. � T.R. Goldman BLUFFING RUMMY In the 1990s, Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit cut ties with the American Bar Association, believing that the organization had grown too political for a federal judge to affiliate with. But last week, now-Senior Judge Silberman, who served as co-chairman of the presidential commission on U.S. intelligence capabilities, broke his decade-long boycott. On April 14, Silberman addressed an ABA committee on the commission’s work and recommendations. According to the judge, panel members initially squabbled over whether to seek subpoena power, similar to that of the 9/11 commission. While the group proceeded without such authority, Silberman said, that did not stop them from threatening to subpoena a reluctant Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The ruse worked, and Rumsfeld showed up to testify. “I knew he had only finished one year of law school,” Silberman joked. � Vanessa Blum MASS APPEAL The D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission has submitted three names to President George W. Bush to fill the vacancy on the D.C. Court of Appeals created when Chief Judge Annice Wagner steps down in May. The candidates include two current Superior Court judges, Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and Neal Kravitz, and Phyllis Thompson, a partner at Covington & Burling. Bush has 60 days to select a nominee, who then must be confirmed by the Senate. Last November, Superior Court Judge Noel Kramer was nominated to fill another vacancy on the Court of Appeals. She is still awaiting confirmation. Nominations for the open chief judge position will be accepted by the commission until April 20. � Bethany Broida

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