RUDMAN A KEY SUPPORTER OF JUSTICE SOUTER
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter said he was lucky to have had a friend like former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman, who died November 19 of complications from lymphoma.
Rudman, who was 82, was a Republican former attorney general for New Hampshire before being elected to represent the state in the Senate in 1980. He played a key role in Souter’s 1990 confirmation.
When scattered rumors appeared in print that the lifelong bachelor Souter was gay, Rudman had to physically restrain and settle Souter down with a scotch and speak with him for five hours before he agreed to continue with the nomination, according to a National Law Journal account.
In a statement, Souter said Rudman was like a brother to him and that he was “incomparably” lucky to have had him as a friend.
Rudman was of counsel to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in Washington, where he had been a partner from 1993 to 2002. A statement from the firm said he was “a joy to work with, always collegial, warm and supportive. We and the country will miss him.” — Todd Ruger
COVINGTON AIDS SOUTH KOREANS
After Covington & Burling helped more Australians enter the U.S. workforce in 2005, the firm has turned its attention to South Koreans. The South Korean embassy in Washington has hired Covington to develop a professional visa legislative proposal, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents the firm filed this month with the U.S. Justice Department. Covington also will create “corresponding justifications for the legislation based on the unique attributes of the U.S.-Korea economic partnership, as evidenced in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement,” the paperwork says. The embassy and Covington entered into the $90,000 contract on November 14, less than a year after the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement went into effect. Covington of counsel Brian Smith, who signed the contract, declined to comment. Smith is working with firm senior counsel Martin Gold, international policy adviser Alan Larson and associate Jonathan Wakely on the South Korea account. In May 2005, Covington helped Australia become the only country to have for its workers a separate U.S. visa that did not come as part of a free trade agreement. — Andrew Ramonas
BLACK FARMERS CASE SPURS $40M FEE FIGHT
The plaintiffs lawyers who represented a class of black farmers in a historic $1.25 billion settlement want more than $90 million in fees and costs for their work. The U.S. Justice Department calls the request excessive, saying the attorneys, including co-lead class counsel Andrew Marks of Crowell & Moring, should not get anything more than about $50.3 million — the bottom of the range set out in the settlement.
DOJ lawyers, including Tamra Moore of the Civil Division, said in court papers that every dollar in fees “is one less dollar that is available to pay successful class members.”
DOJ’s main argument: The plaintiffs lawyers relied in large part on an earlier case that involved black farmers in a dispute with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Moore said, “there is nothing particularly unique, novel, or complex about this case that merits a $90 million fee award.”
Marks, lead counsel with Gregorio Francis of Morgan & Morgan in Orlando, Fla., and Henry Sanders of Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders, Pettaway & Campbell in Selma, Ala., said the plaintiffs’ team was “very surprised and disappointed” with the DOJ response. The attorneys contend their request is fair for the “enormous amount of work” in the case — including litigation and the negotiation and implementation of the deal. — Mike Scarcella
It’s time again for D.C.-area lawyers and their families to clear out their clothes closets. Gifts for the Homeless, the lawyer-led nonprofit that uses all donated money to help the homeless, is holding its annual clothing drive November 30 through December 2. Last year, more than 4,000 bags of gently used clothing were collected and delivered to 63 area shelters with the help of 400 volunteers from law firms and related sponsoring organizations — including Legal Times. At Hogan Lovells, 11 floor captains and dozens more volunteers are gathering and sorting clothing and donations, said partner Stephen Propst. “It’s a real firmwide effort, involving everyone from partners to associates and staff.” Gifts for the Homeless president Bart Epstein, general counsel of tutor.com, said, “Local shelters tell us that their needs are greater than ever. We hope that the D.C. legal community will step up.” — Tony Mauro
ELIXIR OF LOVE
The U.S. Supreme Court’s twice-yearly, invitation-only musicales are usually fairly staid, with some of America’s best classical musical talent performing formally before the justices in the court’s east conference room. But on November 19, a pair of youthful opera stars broke that mold and got downright interactive with the justices. At one point, tenor Stephen Costello serenaded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on bended knee, to the justice’s delight. During a duet from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Costello and his wife, soprano Ailyn Perez, gestured toward Justice Antonin Scalia as if he were the “other man” luring her away from her husband. She blew kisses at Scalia, and he blew them back. Costello shook his finger at Scalia and later directed the two-finger “I’m watching you” gesture toward Scalia. Scalia responded with a gesture that was impossible to see from behind. As usual, Ginsburg was the master of ceremonies and impresaria of the event, with help from the Washington Performing Arts Society. — Tony Mauro
Think of them as the Starsky and Hutch of federal agencies, teaming up to track down bad guys peddling bogus mortgages. At least that was the impression given by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission last week, when they announced their first-ever joint enforcement effort. The agencies conducted a random review of 800 ads for mortgages looking for false or misleading claims, sent out a slew of warning letters and opened a handful of investigations. The two consumer protection agencies share significant overlapping jurisdiction — which means the potential for turf wars and rivalries. But officials took pains to sing each other’s praises. The CFPB’s Kent Markus said the FTC was “an invaluable partner,” while the FTC’s Thomas Pahl described the effort as “a great joint activity” that “avoided double-teaming businesses.” — Jenna Greene
When it comes to his recent strong language in critiquing lawyers for the District of Columbia, U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth isn’t backing down. After Lamberth chastised the D.C. attorney general’s office in an October 4 opinion for violating a discovery order, the city asked him to strike language from the opinion the city thought was too harsh. In the opinion, Lamberth called the city’s arguments “as untenable as they are ridiculous,” saying that the District was asking him to enter an “Orwellian world where all arguments are devoid of context.” The city called the language “vituperative rhetoric.” But in a November 19 opinion denying the motion, Lamberth said city lawyers failed to offer a reason rooted in law that he should strike the language. “The Federal Rules provide for no motions for reconsideration for hurt feelings, no motions to strike things that could make you look bad,” he wrote. — Zoe Tillman