White-collar criminal defense lawyer Amit Mehta helps high-profile clients with below-the-radar legal maneuvering. This summer, the Zuckerman Spaeder partner helped former International Monetary Fund President Dominique Strauss-Kahn defeat criminal assault charges in New York state court.
He was also the primary brief writer for former Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) in a case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2009. The appeals court ruled that Feeney’s statements to the House Ethics Committee about a privately funded 2003 Scotland trip were protected by the Constitution’s speech or debate clause. The clause gives members of Congress immunity and privilege for their communication in official congressional proceedings. The circuit “has ruled the speech and debate clause should be interpreted rather robustly,” Mehta said.
The University of Virginia School of Law graduate was also lead counsel for Yaming Nina Qi Hanson, who was arrested in February 2009 and faced up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine on charges of illegally exporting miniature unmanned aerial-vehicle autopilots, more commonly known as drones. About a year later, Mehta got the case reduced to a false-statements charge with a sentence of time served plus probation. Mehta hopes the case will prompt the government to “ensure the kind of products they claim require a license [to export] do require a license,” Mehta said.
Mehta, 39, maintains the skills he honed during his five-year stint as a staff attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia before rejoining Zuckerman in 2007. He’s a board member of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which seeks to reverse and prevent wrongful convictions in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. — Sheri Qualters