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Whether or not David Lat loses his job for dishing dirt about federal judges, the abrupt end to his Web log may pour cold water on other U.S. Justice Department lawyers eyeing online outlets for their creativity. The assistant U.S. attorney from New Jersey, who had been running his “Underneath Their Robes” blog for 18 months using a female pseudonym, outed himself in a story in The New Yorker that hit the newsstands last Monday. Lat, 30, told the magazine he was ending his anonymity because the blog’s success left him “frustrated that I was putting a lot of time into this and was unable to get any credit for it.” Now he’s gotten more “credit” than he could have imagined. Almost immediately after the article was out, Lat took down the site in accord with a “mutual decision” between him and his superior, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, according to a spokesman for Christie’s office. Worse, Lat’s blog violated an office policy requiring assistant U.S. attorneys to seek approval before speaking in the media, says the spokesman, Michael Drewniak. The policy doesn’t specifically address Web logs, but Drewniak says it is clear enough that Christie has not seen the need to spell out its applicability to online blogging. “It’s a novel situation [but] it doesn’t take great thought to see that our general policy on press contacts has a wider application,” Drewniak says. Drewniak declines to discuss whether Lat will face dismissal or discipline. Lat was still employed as of last Friday but did not respond to phone messages at his office and home or to e-mails. In The New Yorker article, Lat said his true identity as creator of the blog would have come out anyway, even if he had not disclosed it himself. But he also expressed concern about fallout from his revelation. “I only hope that the judges I appear in front of don’t read it,” he said. “Underneath Their Robes,” written in the voice of a female lawyer called Article III Groupie, had tone and content befitting a celebrity-sightings forum. It reported, for example, that a few days after the White House announced Harriet Miers’ nomination to the Supreme Court, U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito was seen walking on Broad Street in Newark, looking “absolutely inconsolable,” his face bearing “an expression of the most exquisite and profound sadness.” Regular features included “Superhotties of the Federal Judiciary,” touting the physical attractiveness of 12 men and 9 women on the bench. The top three women were Lourdes Baird (C.D. Cal.), “a lovely Latina [who] leads UTR readers to exclaim, ‘Que rica!’”; Irma Gonzalez (S.D.Cal.), “a judicial J. Lo who is muy caliente!”; and Frank Hull (11th Cir.), of whom Lat writes: “In case you’re wondering, Frank M. Hull “is a woman – and oh, what a woman!” The top three male superhotties were Harold Baer Jr. (S.D.N.Y.), “as handsome as the dickens”; Gary Feess (C.D.Cal.), ” “ quite cute, in an admittedly nerdy, dork chic sort of way” and Alfred Goodwin (9th Cir.). “Yee-haw!” Lat wrote. “Article III Groupie is ready to be lassoed, tied and dropped by this judicial hottie!” In “The Dancing Queen of the Ninth Circuit,” he excerpted a newspaper article about U.S. Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan, who “likes to surprise judicial and legal gatherings by starting discussions about serious topics and � then pulls off her black robe to reveal a sequined costume and tap shoes.” He posted both Article III Groupie’s e-mail asking the judge for her photo so attired and Callahan’s polite e-mail denying the request “without prejudice.” Lat also suggested Callahan as a good candidate for the high court. She’s a fairly conservative Republican, with prosecutorial experience suggesting she’d be solid on criminal issues: “She has oodles of judicial experience, in both trial and appellate courts, and in both the federal and (admittedly icky) state systems. Her confirmation hearings were a love-in. Y su mam� tambi�n es Latina. Could Judge Callahan hoof it all the way to One First Street?” In his final posting before the site was shut down, Lat wrote that he was no more Article III Groupie than J.K. Rowling is Harry Potter or Vladimir Nabokov was Humbert Humbert. “Thus, my persistent denials of being A3G have been, in a technical and perhaps Clintonian sense, quite correct,” he said. “My opinions and those of A3G are not exactly the same. In fact, some of the people that A3G has offered snarky commentary on are people from whom I harbor admiration, affection, or both. In short, A3G does as she pleases, and I cannot be blamed or held accountable for any of her misdeeds, indiscretions, or occasional vulgarity.” Described by a colleague as a brilliant attorney, Lat graduated from Harvard University and Yale University Law School. After a clerkship with Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, he worked at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Underneath Their Robes isn’t the first time Lat has garnered attention for his provocative writings. At Harvard, he drew angry letters to the editor of the school paper, the Crimson, for his columns lambasting liberals, gay pride day and college sexual harassment policies.

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