Blake Morant. (Photo: Ken Bennett/Wake Forest University.)
George Washington University has named Blake Morant as the next dean of its law school. Morant has served as dean of Wake Forest University School of Law for the past seven years, and will assume the top position at George Washington University Law School on Sept. 1. He is also the president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools. “Blake Morant is not only a seasoned dean but also a national leader in legal education,” university president Steven Knapp in the June 9 announcement. “He brings to this important position a proven record of accomplishments, and his extensive leadership experience will make him an extremely valuable addition to our law school and the entire university.”
George Washington Law has been without a permanent dean since early 2013, when former dean Paul Schiff Berman took on the newly created position of vice provost for online education at the university. With that move came rumors that some on the law school faculty had been unhappy with Berman’s leadership. He had only been at the helm of the law school for a year and a half. Law professor Gregory Maggs has been serving as interim dean since Berman’s departure.
“I have respected and admired the George Washington Law School throughout my career and consider serving as its next dean to be a distinct privilege,” Morant said. “I look forward to working with the constituency of this historic institution during this time of both challenge and extraordinary opportunity.” Before the Wake Forest deanship, Morant was the associate dean for academic affairs at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he was also director of the Francis Lewis Law Center, which supports faculty research and scholarship. — Karen Sloan
JUDGE KEEPS PROSECUTION INFO SEALED
A Washington federal judge has rejected a request to unseal a PowerPoint presentation that prosecutors prepared in the case against Kevin Ring, a former lobbyist convicted in the Jack Abramoff scandal. The presentation, Ring argued, would shed light on the “trial penalty” — the consequences defendants face when they choose to go to trial.
A jury convicted Ring in 2010 of trading things of value — including meals and trips — in exchange for favors from public officials. Ring is serving 20 months in prison.
Ring’s lawyers at Miller & Chevalier asked the court in December to unseal portions of a PowerPoint document the government used during a reverse proffer session — a meeting in which the government tells a defendant about its case to force a decision over whether to plea or go to trial. Ring’s lawyers argued there was a strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings and court records. The presentation, Miller & Chevalier partner Andrew Wise wrote, would educate public interest groups, academics and others “about how pleas and charging decisions can work and how prosecutors’ actions can affect the criminal justice process.” But U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle noted in her June 10 decision that the PowerPoint presentation was never filed with the court; it was provided to Ring and his lawyers before Ring was indicted in September 2008. The judge said the presumptive right of public access therefore didn’t apply. Wise declined to comment. — Zoe Tillman
‘FEDERAL CRIMINAL DISCOVERY’ MANUAL IS SECRET, DOJ SAYS
After the case against Ted Stevens fell apart amid allegations of government misconduct, top U.S. Department of Justice lawyers announced a series of measures to better train prosecutors about their ethical obligations. The department’s “Federal Criminal Discovery” manual was published — internally, at least — as part of that effort. The National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers last year sued under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the manual. The government isn’t willing to give it up.
Last week, Justice Department lawyers said the attorney work-product privilege protects the book from disclosure. The manual was created to “counsel and advise” prosecutors about discovery issues, Héctor Bladuell of the Civil Division wrote in court papers on June 11.
“The disclosure of this book would allow ­criminal defendants to benefit from the government’s legal analysis, reveal litigation strategies federal ­prosecutors may and do employ in criminal investigations and prosecutions, and discourage DOJ attorneys from ­creating written material to advise other DOJ ­attorneys,” Bladuell wrote.
The manual goes beyond a mere presentation of department policy, Bladuell wrote, countering one argument from the NACDL. “The [discovery manual] was triggered by litigation and was created for litigation,” the DOJ lawyer said in court papers.
DOJ lawyers said the discovery manual doesn’t “create a set of rigid rules for prosecutors to follow in every single case.” — Mike Scarcella
HOLDER CRITICIZES SCOUTS’ POLICY AGAINST GAY LEADERS
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. criticized the Boy Scouts of America ban on openly gay adult leaders, calling the policy “a relic of an age of prejudice and insufficient understanding.” During the 14th annual Lambda Legal Reception in Washington, Holder cited U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have made “tremendous strides” against similarly discriminatory policies.
“Throughout history, America’s highest ideals — realized in the expanding inclusiveness of our laws and a succession of historic Supreme Court rulings, from Brown to Zablocki, from Romer to Lawrence, from Loving to Windsor — have lit a clear path forward,” Holder said.
“Today, courageous lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line as members of America’s armed services. They inspire us, they protect us, and they defend us. And if these men and women are fit for military service, then surely they are fit to mentor, to teach and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations,” he said. — Todd Ruger
WINSTON’S FEE SUIT SURVIVES
Winston & Strawn defeated an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit against a former client over more than $200,000 in allegedly unpaid fees and expenses. Winston sued The Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves, based in Jackson, Miss., in December. Eaves, represented by partner John Eaves Jr., moved to dismiss the case, arguing in part that Winston named the wrong entity as a defendant. But U.S. District Judge John Bates said in a June 11 opinion that Eaves (the lawyer) was never clear on the right name. The contract with Winston referred to “The Law Firm of John Arthur Eaves.” The firm’s website used a version of that name and “Eaves Law Firm.” Bates said it wouldn’t be right to dismiss the case “when the party itself has not settled on its own name.” — Zoe Tillman
WELLS FARGO LOSES APPEAL
Wells Fargo Bank struck out in an attempt to avoid liability in a pending federal mortgage fraud suit.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on June 11 rebuffed the bank’s request to bar all claims against it in a suit brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in October 2012. The complaint is based on the bank’s origination and underwriting of thousands of federally insured mortgages.
That suit came just six months after Wells Fargo paid $5 billion to settle similar claims in a suit brought by the United States, 49 states and the District of Columbia for alleged misconduct in issuing home mortgages insured by the feds. — Jenna Greene
LOBBYING FOR THE REDSKINS
The Washington Redskins have recruited a former member of Congress and other lobbyists at McGuireWoods for a good-will campaign amid growing opposition on Capitol Hill to the name of the National Football League franchise.
Former Rep. L.F. Payne, D-Va., who leads McGuireWoods Consulting, and his colleagues will discuss “team origins, history and traditions, Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and youth sports, [and the] activities of Original Americans’ Foundation,” a Redskins charity for American Indians, according to lobbying registration papers.
The other lobbyists working with Payne are Frank Donatelli, McGuireWoods Consulting executive vice president and federal public affairs director, and senior advisers Ronald Platt and Russell Sullivan. The lobbying registration came as 50 senators called upon the NFL to rename the football team, saying the name is “a racial slur.” ­ — Andrew Ramonas