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Taking a Stance First there was the wide stance. Then the phone call. Now comes the lawyering up. Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) is apparently having second thoughts about his decision to resign at the end of the month after pleading guilty to “disorderly conduct” in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Part of his decision will no doubt hinge on the advice he gets from his new high-priced legal team: Billy Martin, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, and Stanley Brand, of Brand Law Group. Martin has been all over the news as of late, helping Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick strike a plea agreement with Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill. Martin will be handling Craig’s criminal case, which may entail an attempt to withdraw Craig’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge stemming from his arrest for allegedly soliciting sex from an undercover cop. Brand, a prominent ethics lawyer, will focus on an announced investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. Brand is a veteran of many Washington investigations. He served as counsel to the House during a fight over executive privilege in the Reagan administration and was general counsel to the late Democratic House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.
A Long Slick It’s been almost 20 years since the Exxon Valdez tanker, captained by Joseph Hazelwood, ran aground on the Alaskan coast, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil that spread across roughly 1,300 miles. The accident heavily damaged commercial fisheries in Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska and killed thousands of marine mammals and hundreds of thousands of seabirds. And it’s still being litigated. While action on the case has slowed some in recent years, on Aug. 28, Exxon Mobil Corp. asked the Supreme Court to overturn the $2.5 billion punitive fine levied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Washington partner Walter Dellinger, chairman of the appellate practice at O’Melveny & Myers, and E. Edward Bruce of Covington & Burling are representing Exxon. Meanwhile, the approximately 40,000 plaintiffs have asked the Court to restore a $5 billion punitive fine against Exxon. David Tarshes, a complex�-�litigation partner in the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine, has taken the lead on the appellate work for the plaintiffs. Locally, Dickstein Shapiro is one of five firms that serve as court-appointed lead counsel. “We agree with what the Court of Appeals said in its December 2006 opinion: It is time for this protracted litigation to end,” says Kenneth Adams, a partner at Dickstein and a lead attorney on the case. “Just as the Court of Appeals recently denied Exxon’s petition for rehearing, we hope the Supreme Court will deny Exxon’s petition for certiorari and put an end to Exxon’s 18-year effort to avoid taking full responsibility for what the jury found was its reckless conduct.” In the petition to the high court to restore the $5 billion award against Exxon, the plaintiffs claim that during the appeals process, a fifth of the original class members have died.
Taxing Textron Last month, the Internal Revenue Service was rebuffed when a federal appeals court in Rhode Island ruled that the government didn’t have a right to internal tax documents belonging to Textron Inc., an aerospace and defense contractor. High-profile tax partners Arthur Bailey and J. Walker Johnson from Steptoe & Johnson represented Textron. In 2001, Textron bought several telephone networks and a railroad system overseas and then leased them back to their owners. As part of an audit of the transactions, the IRS requested all of the company’s tax work, going back several years. Textron said no. The company offered to provide the work papers around the specific transactions, but declined to provide other documents, specifically tax accrual work papers, arguing that they were covered by privilege. Tax-accrual papers often include legal analyses of transactions that could be challenged by either the Justice Department or the IRS. Judge Ernest Torres of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island agreed with Textron, holding that “forced disclosure of those opinions would put Textron at an unfair disadvantage in any dispute that might arise with the IRS.” The IRS has not indicated whether it will appeal.
Mayer Hit Again Mayer Brown may have shortened its name starting this month, but it still can’t outrun a seemingly endless flow of malpractice suits. The latest is (again) from the Refco Litigation Trusts, a group seeking to recover funds during the bankruptcy of Refco Inc. The trust announced last month that it is suing various third parties for more than $500 million, claiming they aided in the defrauding of customers. The litigation trusts filed suit against Mayer, Grant Thornton, Ernst & Young, and various Refco insiders, who were not named individually in the pleadings. The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court by New York partners Michael Carlinsky and Rick Werder of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges. This complaint came a week after the Refco trust sued Mayer Brown and a number of accounting firms for $2 billion in a state court in Chicago.
Roster Moves It’s the time of year when NFL teams are rounding out their squads, and a few area law firms have made some key signings as well. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton made three additions last week. Jonathan Rose and Sheldon Kline joined Sheppard as partners in the firm’s labor and employment practice. Rose moved over from Katten Muchin Rosenman’s Washington office, and Kline comes across town from Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner. Also joining the practice last week was Thomas Wotring, who joined as special counsel from Thelen Reid, where he was of counsel. The trio was last together at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where Wotring chaired the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice.
Keeping Score is Legal Times’ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip? Contact Senior Editor Douglas McCollam at [email protected].

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