In the hallway outside the courtroom of Washington, D.C., federal district court judge Royce Lamberth on the morning of August 6, everyone was debating the question: Would Lewis Rivlin show up for the 9:30 hearing? Rivlin, a man with a glittering past and a very uncertain future, had lately been comparing himself to Job, complaining bitterly in court filings about the demands placed upon him by the covey of lawyers chasing after him for one thing or another. Now some of those very lawyers, including a pair from the Securities and Exchange Commission, were in Judge Lamberth’s hallway, trading stories of Rivlin’s apparent indifference to deposition schedules and court-imposed deadlines. Even in the enormous trouble that swamped him — sued by the SEC for fraud, under investigation by the Washington, D.C., bar association, on the hook for almost $20 million in judgments — Rivlin was continuing to operate as if the rules that everyone else lives by simply didn’t apply to him.

The courtroom doors opened at 9:15, and the small crowd moved inside. No Rivlin yet. Christian Mixter and Deborah Field of the enforcement division of the SEC — which sued Rivlin in June — carried their files to the table in the front; Lamberth would first hear their motion to bar Rivlin from offering or selling securities. Other lawyers connected to various branches of the Rivlin litigation took seats in the first few rows.

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