A Kinder, Gentler Fee Denial — Brick solo Donald Burke was disappointed when denied an extra $5,400 in fees on top of $12,000 he had been awarded in an Open Public Records Act case.
What really bugged him, though, was Bergen County Assignment Judge Peter Doyne accusing him of "lying in the weeds" by not mentioning at oral argument that he would ask for supplemental fees.
Burke moved for reconsideration, saying there had been a "miscommunication," denying any intention to be less than candid and expressing concern that the opinion, posted on the court website, would mar his reputation in the legal community.
Doyne did not budge from the denial of extra fees, but on Wednesday he issued a new opinion that "accepts Burke's eloquently expressed concerns that there was never an intention to be less than forthright with the court."
Burke did not return a call and the city's lawyer, Robert Hitscherich of Zisa & Hitscherich in Hackensack, was out of the office and could not be reached.
Burke represents Steven Gelber of Hackensack, a blogging critic of the city government, who went to court to obtain copies of its collective bargaining agreements.
Anger Management — Paul Beatty, a Long Branch solo suspended from practice over a stalking conviction, may be upset about being required to undergo a mental test before his license is restored, but suing disciplinary officials is not the way to express it, a state appeals court ruled on Friday.
In a Superior Court suit, Beatty named as defendants the state's ethics elite — Disciplinary Review Board chairman Louis Pashman, DRB chief counsel Julianne DeCore, Office of Attorney Ethics first assistant counsel Michael Sweeney and former OAE counsel Richard Engelhardt — alleging they improperly tacked on a condition that he "submit, without a Court Order, to a mental examination, prior to being reinstated to practice." He even named Gail Haney, the deputy clerk of the Supreme Court, whose only involvement was entering the order.
Atlantic County Judge Nelson Johnson dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim for damages. Appellate Division Judges Victor Ashrafi and Jerome St. John affirmed, finding Beatty's only recourse is to submit his grievance to the clerk of the Supreme Court that the officials exceeded their authority.
Beatty, admitted in Maryland in 1967 and in New Jersey in 1990, was suspended for three months in 2008 after pleading guilty to stalking a woman he'd met while working as a security guard at the Monmouth Park Racetrack.
A telephone number listed as belonging to Beatty was not in service Friday.
Well-Connected — Westfield lawyer Robert Stahl is mainly a white-collar defense lawyer, but the contacts he developed working on commercial matters in the former Soviet Union helped him land a role in the Boston Marathon bombing case.
A former assistant U.S. attorney under Samuel Alito and Michael Chertoff, Stahl represents Dias Kadyrbayev, a 19-year-old student from Kazakhstan indicted Thursday on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede the investigation.
He got the case on the recommendation of a business client who is also a family friend of Kadyrbayev, charged with removing a computer and a backpack containing fireworks from bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dormitory room in the aftermath of the bombings.
Stahl says Kadyrbayev did not knowingly remove evidence from Tsarnaev's room. He cooperated with the FBI during its investigation, even showing them the trash bin where he discarded the fireworks, Stahl adds.
"I think that my client and his family are sympathetic to all the victims and the victims' families, and we hope and trust there can be a fair trial," he says.
Leak Expert — One of President Barack Obama's latest judicial nominees will, if confirmed, bring with him more than a passing knowledge of clerking for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices.
John Owens of Munger, Tolles & Olson, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Aug. 1, once clerked for Ninth Circuit Judge Clifford Wallace and then Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Owens' father Jack clerked for the late Justice Lewis Powell.
But Owens' deepest dive into clerkship history came in a 2000 law review article that detailed the largely forgotten tale of Ashton Embry, a law clerk to Justice Joseph McKenna who resigned in 1919 and was indicted in 1920 for using inside knowledge of a pending decision to profit on Wall Street.
While working at the U.S. Justice Department, Owens had stumbled across a reference to the case and dug into it using documents from the Supreme Court, the National Archives and the Justice Department — including a memorandum by a young J. Edgar Hoover.
"I was consumed by it," Owens told a reporter in 2001. "I couldn't believe no one had written about it."
To fight the indictment, lawyers for Embry and other co-conspirators asserted that it was based on tradition and custom, not any law that could be interpreted to prohibit leaks. The case never went to trial and the charges were eventually dismissed.
In 2012, in the aftermath of apparent leaks from within the court about the internal discussions about the Affordable Care Act cases, Owens said that even today, it might be difficult to prosecute a law clerk for leaking internal court information.
— By Mary Pat Gallagher, Michael Booth, Charles Toutant and Tony Mauro (The National Law Journal)