LAWYERS FLOCK TO TAMPA FOR GOP GATHERING
There’s only one reception exclusively for lawyers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and some of the most politically connected D.C. attorneys are on the guest list for the August 27 event.
The Republican National Lawyers Association is honoring Mitt Romney‘s Justice Advisory Committee, which includes former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, former Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff, former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Phillips and some of the biggest names in D.C. legal circles.
Richard Wiley, founding partner of Wiley Rein and co-chair of the advisory committee, plans to be there; his firm is one of the main sponsors. Other big sponsors include Arent Fox; Cooper & Kirk; Foley & Lardner; and Maggs & McDermott’s Washington office.
Guests include Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas), former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). About half of the 63 members of Romney’s advisory committee work at Washington law offices. — Todd Ruger
JUDGE SCOLDS FEDS ON DISCLOSURE ISSUES
During the prosecution of long-time Washington criminal defense lawyer Charles Daum, the trial judge had stern words for government lawyers about their ethical obligations to turn over favorable information. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said “it is hard to fathom why the government would not be super, super attentive” to what information must be disclosed.
Daum and two private investigators were convicted at trial in June on charges of participating in a conspiracy to dupe jurors through the creation of fake evidence. Kessler on August 20 ruled against Daum, a solo, and the investigators, Daaiyah and Iman Pasha, on their motion to dismiss the indictment.
Daum’s lawyer, David Schertler of Washington’s Schertler & Onorato, and lawyers for the Pashas — Cozen O’Connor partner Bernard Grimm represented Daaiyah — argued that the government should be sanctioned for holding onto beneficial witness information that undercut the U.S. Justice Department’s theory of the case. Prosecutors disagreed that the government violated any ethical obligations. Kessler said last week that the witness information was not enough to overcome the strength of the government’s case against Daum, who is set to be sentenced January 10. — Mike Scarcella
D.C. TAXI FIGHT LANDS IN COURT
Taxis in Washington don’t have a sterling reputation. Passenger complaints are myriad about cabs that are past their prime and drivers who refuse to travel to some neighborhoods, to name a few. But the lack of technology to pay fares by credit card is usually near the top of the list. Debate over plans to modernize taxis landed in court last week, with a company that lost a bid to develop and install new “smart” meters suing to stop installation. Creative Mobile Technologies LLC (CMT) bid on the contract but learned in early July that it was out of the running. It appealed, but the District of Columbia’s chief procurement officer decided that installation plans could move ahead even with a challenge pending. CMT filed a protest to that decision. The Contract Appeals Board was expected to rule on that protest by August 31, but the city announced that installation was underway on August 22. CMT, represented by A. Scott Bolden, managing partner of Reed Smith‘s D.C. office, sued the city in District of Columbia Superior Court, seeking a restraining order later that day. The city is expecting 6,500 meters to be installed within 90 days, just in time for the January crush of inauguration attendees. — Zoe Tillman
FUN WITH WORDS
Back in law school, did you wonder how to pronounce McCulloch, as in McCulloch v. Maryland, the landmark 1819 U.S. Supreme Court ruling? And when you’re sparring with an adversary over expert witnesses, do you call it the “dau-BARE” standard, or “DAW-bert”? Students at Yale Law School and at the university’s linguistics department collaborated to answer these burning questions with a new online pronouncing dictionary of the Supreme Court. “The students and I have had a lot of fun” compiling it, said lecturer Eugene Fidell. They consulted lawyers and litigants themselves, among other sources. For post-9/11 landmarks like Boumediene v. Bush and Rumsfeld v. Padilla, they went with “boo-ME-dee-en” and “pa-DEE-ya,” respectively. In future editions, Fidell says, the dictionary may mediate more than case names, perhaps even tackling how to pronounce amicus, as in amicus curiae. Justice Stephen Breyer has waged a lonely campaign for pronouncing it “a-MY-cus.” (By the way, the dictionary says not to pronounce the second “c” in McCulloch, but do pronounce the “t” in Daubert.) — Tony Mauro
Stephen Braga, formerly a white-collar defense partner at Ropes & Gray, has left the firm’s D.C. office to open up his own legal shop. In an interview, Braga said he left Ropes to focus on representing individuals — and that he hopes to practice “on the side” while teaching law full-time. “Helping to free Damien Echols and the West Memphis Three reaffirmed for me that what really jazzes me about the practice of law is the individual representations,” Braga said, referring to the men convicted as teens in 1994 of murdering three boys, and released last year after DNA evidence emerged. Braga said he would also like to earn a full-time teaching position by next fall. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He said that many of his smaller clients followed him to his new practice. Braga’s wife, Kathleen Braga, will join him at the firm. “This will give me a year to see if I can build a sustainable practice on the side,” he said. — Matthew Huisman
On the heels of a survey of federal judges that called for early and regular warnings to jurors about improper use of social media, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts last week published new model jury instructions on the subject. Jurors have long been warned against doing their own research or talking about a case to someone besides a fellow juror. Still, a study completed by the federal judiciary’s education and research arm, the Federal Judicial Center, found that warnings specific to social media were needed. The model instructions cover all the major players, warning jurors against using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Myspace, or “any similar technology of social media” (looking at you, Instagram and Tumblr). Judges are encouraged to warn jurors about why social media sites in particular can be so dangerous to court proceedings, noting, “Information on the internet or available through social media might be wrong, incomplete, or inaccurate.” — Zoe Tillman
The Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia and chapter officials picked up three awards at the Hispanic National Bar Association’s 37th annual convention this month. The D.C. chapter, which is celebrating its 35th birthday this year, was named one of two affiliate organizations of the year. Chapter President Lyzka DeLaCruz, managing partner of Washington’s Bakker DeLaCruz, said in a press release that the group “has been at the forefront in our nation’s capital in providing networking, professional development and public service opportunities for Latino lawyers and in advocating for the rights of the Latino community.” — Zoe Tillman