SRINIVASAN ACES HILL HEARING, SANS NOTES
In a battle over who asks tougher questions of Sri Srinivasan, the Senate was no match for the U.S. Supreme Court. Srinivasan, principal deputy solicitor general and nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, got an easy reception during his April 10 confirmation hearing.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said, "I have no questions for the wonderful candidate." Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Srinivasan, "We have been friends a long time. I will hope our friendship will not be seen as a strike against you." Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) remarked, "I’m really impressed by you. I think you’re terrific."
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) wanted to know how Srinivasan argues in the Supreme Court without notes. "You don’t have much of an opportunity to look at anything," Srinivasan said. "So if there’s no occasion to look down, it doesn’t really matter what you have down there."
Near the hearing’s end, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked: "What possible reason could someone have for objecting to your nomination?" — Todd Ruger
TESTIFY? OK. BUT HERE ARE MY TERMS
D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan doesn’t take the witness stand often — if ever. He’s willing to testify in a dispute over allegedly mishandled evidence. But only with conditions.
Nathan wants his testimony limited to one hour. Only U.S. District Magistrate Judge John Facciola would be allowed to ask the questions. And his testimony would be restricted to "specific topics," he proposed in a court document.
Facciola hasn’t said whether he’ll agree to Nathan’s terms. Last week, he ordered that Nathan present himself in court on May 8 to testify.
Nathan’s forthcoming testimony is the latest development in a legal drama spanning more than a decade over mass arrests in 2002 during demonstrations in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The fight over the legality of those arrests was put on a back burner in recent years as lawyers tussled over the handling of evidence. Most recently, the plaintiffs’ lawyers accused city attorneys of giving misinformation about the status of a controversial evidence issue. The city has denied wrongdoing. Responding to Facciola’s inquiry into whether Nathan would want to testify, the city said Nathan didn’t handle the discovery responses at issue, but would appear if it would be "helpful" to the court. — Zoe Tillman
In a Freedom of Information Act spat in Washington, the U.S. Justice Department says it has a big concern: protecting the criminal investigation into the potential disclosure of the classified information posted on WikiLeaks. Trial attorney Scott Risner of DOJ’s Civil Division said in court papers on April 10 that the government intends to keep secret the information the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center requested. EPIC’s lawyers, including Marc Rotenberg and Ginger McCall, have demanded records of people the government targeted for surveillance for their support for or interest in WikiLeaks, which published hundreds of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010. EPIC’s "requests are a quintessential example of an improper attempt to use FOIA to force the government to open its investigative files to public inspection," Risner said. The challengers contend DOJ hasn’t adequately explained how disclosure of information will interfere with the probe. EPIC also argues DOJ shouldn’t be allowed to "undercut the adversarial process" by submitting secret declarations that only the presiding trial judge, Richard Roberts, can see. — Mike Scarcella
HELP WANTED AT DOJ
The U.S. Department of Justice intends to add dozens of attorneys to key positions — if, of course, Congress gives the money. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. ‘ s $27.6 billion budget request for 2014, released on April 10, proposes new slots for attorneys to boost efforts to combat cybersecurity, prosecute financial and mortgage fraud and fight international piracy of intellectual property. Holder wants to restore the $1.6 billion trimmed from this year’s budget as part of government-wide cuts called sequestration, and receive another 3 percent increase on top of that. The Criminal Division would add 25 attorneys to increase cybercrime investigations and prosecute significant financial crimes. The Civil Division would gain 32 attorneys to combat the financial and mortgage fraud that "goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis." And the Civil Rights Division would get 43 attorneys to strengthen enforcement efforts on human trafficking, hate crimes, predatory home mortgage lending and the most egregious incidents of police misconduct. DOJ wants to remove 10 attorney positions from the Antitrust Division that have become vacant because of budget constraints. — Todd Ruger
EYEING THE POLICE
And then there were two. That’s the number of firms vying to serve as the independent monitor for the New Orleans Police Department. Chicago security consultancy Hillard Heintze and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton submitted bids to the U.S. Department of Justice and the police department for $7.2 million and $7.9 million, respectively. The Sheppard Mullin team is led by D.C. co-managing partner Jonathan Aronie, the former deputy independent monitor of the Metropolitan Police Department. The Hillard Heintze team includes name partner Terry Hillard, former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. As an independent monitor, the attorneys would ensure the New Orleans police department is working to eradicate misconduct. The contract would last for four years. The police department and the DOJ have until April 30 to select a monitor. — Matthew Huisman
STILL JAILED, FOR NOW
Federal prosecutors haven’t had much luck convincing juries that Washington nightclub owner Antoine Jones played a lead role in a large-scale cocaine trafficking ring. But the government has succeeded in keeping Jones behind bars all the while. Jones has been jailed since his arrest in 2005. Three trials later — and a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor last year — Jones is seeking his freedom. Prosecutors on April 8 urged U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle not to let Jones out pending his fourth trial. Jones faces a possible mandatory life term if he’s convicted. Darlene Soltys, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in court papers that "the incentive to flee to avoid such a sentence cannot be understated." Jones represented himself during his third trial, which ended in March in a hung jury. The high court in 2012 upheld the reversal of Jones’ earlier conviction based on Fourth Amendment violations rooted in the police use of a GPS tracking device to monitor a vehicle’s movement. — Mike Scarcella
Hoping to explore "complex infrastructure and policy matters," Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has set up a Washington practice focused on legal, lobbying and strategy services for energy and natural resources clients. Brownstein shareholder David Bernhardt, a former U.S. Interior Department solicitor, will lead the group. Bernhardt will receive assistance in D.C. from Brownstein shareholder Lawrence Jensen and of counsel Ryan Smith, as well as policy directors Luke Johnson, Elizabeth Gore and Jon Hrobsky. — Andrew Ramonas