HOPING TO SETTLE, TRIBES TURN TO K ST.

Lawyers representing 16 Native American tribes in Indian trust litigation against the federal government have hired Quinn Gillespie & Associates to lobby for a settlement as the cases move slowly through the courts. Chairman Jack Quinn, a former counsel to President Bill Clinton, and lobbyist Manuel Ortiz are representing the law firms and the tribes involved in the suits, pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. In a statement, the lobbying firm said, “At this stage we are simply gathering intelligence.”

Gregory Yates, a solo practitioner in Los Angeles and co-lead counsel on the tribal cases, said the lawyers turned to Quinn Gillespie because, even if the tribes win in court, “whatever judgment we got would have to be ultimately legislatively endorsed and approved.” Tribes involved include South Dakota’s Chey­enne River Sioux and Oklahoma’s Eastern Shawnee. The tribes’ effort comes as a Feb. 28 deadline nears for Congress to approve a $1.4 billion class action settlement with more than 300,000 American Indians in the Cobell case, which raises similar issues. — Carrie Levine

AMERICA’S TRIAL

When Richard America applied for a promotion within the Small Business Administration in 1995, he was greeted with unexpected news: Instead of advancing at the Washington headquarters, he would be moved to Kansas City, Mo. He chose to retire — and sue. His discrimination lawsuit is heading for a Feb. 16 trial at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. America, who is black, is now a business professor at Georgetown University. He contends the move to Kansas City was an attempt to block him from career advancement because of his race. His lawyers at Washington’s Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman — including name partners Philip Simon and Richard Salzman — said the agency refused a request from then-Vice President Al Gore’s office to keep him at headquarters. — Jordan Weissmann

RECESS GAMES

Senate Democrats had the stage set for Craig Becker to be among President Barack Obama’s first recess appointments. Becker, a labor lawyer, has served as associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. Obama nominated him to the National Labor Relations Board 10 months ago, but business groups argued he would rewrite organizing rules. On Feb. 9, Democrats forced a procedural vote that revealed 52 supporters of Becker — not enough to break a filibuster, but a majority — and Obama said he would consider making recess appointments during this week’s congressional break. It was not meant to be. Two days later, Republicans yielded on 27 other stalled nominees, and Obama said he would reserve his recess authority for another day. — David Ingram

OLD FRIENDS

With longtime friend Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. in attendance, Georgetown University Law Center’s Richard Lazarus was installed Feb. 3 as the new Brennan Professor of Law. Georgetown colleague J. Peter Byrne recalled meeting Lazarus and then-roommate Roberts on election night 1980, adding drily that “the dismay I felt” about Ronald Reagan’s victory “was not shared by Richard’s roommate.” In his own remarks, Lazarus, a leading environmental advocate, said, “What a difference a justice makes.” Conservative William Rehnquist was more effective than environmental hero William O. Douglas, Lazarus said — perhaps why environmentalists have traditionally lost at the high court. — Tony Mauro

FORT HOOD INQUIRY

Army Col. James Pohl, no stranger to high-profile cases, is about to take on one of the most closely watched military hearings in years — the Article 32 pretrial investigation into charges against alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan. Pohl, a graduate of Pepperdine University School of Law, has been chief presiding officer for military commissions since December 2008. He also has served as judge in a number of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse trials and roiled some waters by ruling in 2004 that the prison could not be demolished because it was a crime scene. His colleagues call him independent-minded, tough, fair and thorough. His recommendations likely will determine how Hasan’s court-martial proceeds. The Article 32 hearing is set for March 1. — Marcia Coyle

RAPID RESPONSE

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is beefing up its lobbying and public ­relations team in the midst of the burgeoning recall crisis. The Japanese ­automaker has hired Quinn Gillespie & Associates, adding the public affairs firm to a coterie of outside lobbyists that already included Greenberg Traurig. Last year, the company spent $5.2 million on lobbying. Quinn Gillespie’s lobbying registration isn’t publicly available yet, although a firm spokeswoman said it has been filed. Toyota has also hired the Glover Park Group for public relations advice. — Carrie Levine