Friday, June 26, 2009
So have you heard the one about John Ashcroft getting $52 million to serve as "monitor" to a medical equipment company that received a deferred prosecution agreement (read: "get out of jail free card") from Ashcroft's buddy Christopher Christie, former United States Attorney for New Jersey? Oh, sure. The contract included a flat fee of $750,000 a month for 18 months, plus hourly billing and expenses. Better still, it was a no-bid contract, meaning when the company "accepted" the right to not be prosecuted, it pretty much had to settle on Christie's virtual appointment of Ashcroft as monitor, as part of the deal.
Still able to hold down your lunch, are you? Get this: when the company learned only after accepting the deal, the price of admission Ashcroft was charging to play ball, it protested through its counsel, Fulbright & Jaworski. At which point the US Attorney himself interceded and wrote to the company's counsel in a most paternalistic way " "I am very disappointed that this matter has not been resolved by your client. I am not convinced that this dispute is at the point where it cannot be resolved between your client and the Monitor."
Sunshine has now illuminated this little deal.
Currently, a House subcommittee hearing over the propriety of the no-bid contract is ongoing. The issue is such a black-eye for the justice department , that the Christie/Ashcroft deal caused it to change the process for how monitor contracts are awarded.
But, in the meantime, Ashcroft and his Boys remain pious and have refused to accept responsibility for what appears to many to be a shake-down and does not pass the smell test.
Ashcroft denied that his connection with Christie constituted a conflict of interest or even the appearance of impropriety. "No law that I know of has been violated," Ashcroft said.
You have to admit, this guy gives good depo.
Say what you want about John, but he is a true friend, always rising to defend his buddies, when some latina democrat gal has the audacity to question his authority to make unfettered decisions. At one point during the hearings, Ashcroft told Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif that "this hearing costs more money than any corporate monitorship.""Not a single cent of tax dollars is spent on deferred prosecution agreements," Ashcroft said. He later criticized her for "attacking" Christie, whom he called an accomplished prosecutor, and suggested that Sanchez's concerns about impropriety were so misplaced as to be discriminatory against former public officials.
Ah, the best defense is a good offense.
For his part, Christie apparently learned well at the feet of the Master, and is not going to take any lip from a bunch of politicos.
Christie said during the subcommittee hearing that controversy over the no-bid contract has been exaggerated by Democrats looking to derail his bid as a Republican running for New Jersey governor.
It's a conspiracy!
He's a victim!
And Christie apparently has had enough, taking his marbles and going home. Literally. The National Law Journal reports that Christie, telling lawmakers he had a train to catch, finally walked out of the hearing in frustration after two and a half hours. Democrats tried to get him to stay as television cameras followed him out.
Who the hell does that and gets away with it? Isn't he under subpoena?
"This is not a conflict of interest," Ashcroft said. "There is not an appearance of conflict."
Sympathy, my ass.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Sorry. That's no way to address a Senator.
But in reading that Yale Law Dean Harold Koh was confirmed to be legal advisor to the State Department, I noted that "Koh overcame procedural roadblocks thrown up by Republicans who questioned his commitment to U.S. sovereignty."
I'm not even sure what that means. Like, what: he wanted to cede to Belgium? Or he advocates that we break into groups of "biguns" and "littluns", fighting to establish superiority? Or somehow he has managed to achieve his stature in life, and he's really a double secret agent for Russia? I'm convinced that when Republicans return to their wives and children after hanging for a long weekend in the DR with a pocket full of Viagra, hallucinations eventuate. How else can you justify being an elected official who doesn't wear a white sheet on his head, and claim that Koh "is not committed to US sovereignty?"
You want to know why republicans solidified their continued marginalization by challenging Koh in this despicable manner? Because he opposed going to war in Iraq. Because he opposed US sanctioned torture. Because he wants the US to be the leader on how to conduct international trials for violations of human rights.
Sicko. Commie. Che!
You know, a few of my partners graduated from Yale Law, and on occasion when they have not agreed with my legal analysis, I've wondered if they were not trying to overthrow the United States Government. Heck, maybe the republicans are on to something with this Koh guy.
NB: That flag annoys me.
Big Law continues to scramble to find ways to stay afloat, once again turning to the incoming associate class as a source of cost cutting. As the National Law Journal reports today DLA Piper, the largest Firm in the free world, has reduced the size of its first-year associate class entering the firm in January to 85, down from 100 last year. And only half of the 85 will actually work at the firm, while the other half go into public interest jobs and join the firm in the fall of 2010, said Frank Burch, the firm's global chairman. But it doesn't end there. Forget the old Big Law predictable lock-step associate compensation formula. And apparently, Big Law is going to place more emphasis on the dreaded contract/staff attorney, thereby divesting associates further of their worth to The Firm. (Look, I can't stand the annual locust-like influx of gunner associates either, but you have to admit there is something weird about contract attorneys.)
Anyhoo, the resultant uncertainty can't make for a happy summer for these newly minted law grads all bloated with their sense of entitlement and promise of filthy lucre. Rather than sit around fretting, I'd get a job waiting tables some where around here and blow it out, maybe for the last time before reality sets in. After all, the best revenge is living well.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
We've all been dumped. Some of us by clients. But few of us have had our fragile egos dinged when clients publicly kicked us to the curb. Hot shot Randall Kessler feels that humiliation. Randall, who we understand from his website is a huge deal in Georgia, which I think is like being a huge deal in Broward, is "often asked to handle cases involving celebrities and athletes." He's got the noggin to prove it.
Anyhoo, Randy - can we call you Randy? - was dumped on Twitter in front of his client's 19,305 followers. Of course, tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have had a client with 19,305 Twitter followers. Unless she owes you $4 for every one of her Twitter followers. And you were banking on Usher picking up the tab.
Randall formerly represented Tameka Foster-Raymond in a divorce proceeding initiated by her soon-to-be ex, R&B singer Usher. Days after Kessler publicly praised his client as a faithful wife and loving mother, Raymond, who goes by @TamekaRaymond on Twitter, was tweeting her buddy, celebrity lawyer @StarJonesEsq in search of a new lawyer. Foster-Raymond's tweet, which was posted publicly, read: "My lawyer = horrible. Need the name/number of a good one in Atlanta."
I love Atlanta. Next time you are in Atlanta, check out Sylvia's. It's incredible.
While other leading Republicans fall from grace, our Man Charlie remains a devoted family man protecting his constituents.
Its hard to slam Charlie, who today vetoed a bill that would have deregulated rates for some residential property insurance policies. Crist wrote that the so-called ''Consumer Choice'' bill ''actually gives the choice to a select group of property insurance companies.'' It would have let them choose to sell unregulated policies only to customers who pose the lowest risk, Crist advised.
For a guy with his sights clearly set on a presidential run down the road, you'd think he would not want to poke his finger in the eye of Big Insurance. But he did. That gives Charlie some street cred, in my book.
He refers to it as "North of the Border," but many who venture there claim it is the deep, deep south. An old boys network where judges and politicians enforce unspoken codes regarding how justice is dispensed and politics and business run. I don't know about all that, and will leave it to his blog to document the public scandals that plague Broward.
But the latest from over yonder suggests Broward may have a long way to go in cleaning up its act. Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti is facing a state elections inquiry involving a campaign advertisement in what at the moment is a civil probe.
The Herald reports that a roofer in Broward ran an add by hoisting a sign on a car, with a 65-ton crane, near I-95. Apparently, the roofer, who admitted to not filing an in-kind contribution form as required by the Elections Commission, moonlights as a lawyer: "...I don't know of any case when people put signs on their property that they call it an in-kind rent." Alrighty then, Counselor.
And oh yeah: Crane boy, according to the Herald, earns about 60 percent of his business from government contracts.
When contacted today for a comment, Lamberti had his mouth full at a breakfast "event" and could not comment. Presumably, he paid for his own doughnuts.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
This pretty much sums it up for me.
No blog to call my own. No readership. No Sexy Lexus.
And speaking of low hanging fruit, yesterday the court-appointed trustee in charge of liquidating the investment firm of Bernie Madoff filed suit against broker dealer, Cohmad Securities Corp., to recover what he alleged were decades worth of "ill gotten gains" received as a result of the firm's "symbiotic relationship" with Bernie's posse. The trustee asserted that "Cohmad, formed by Madoff's friend and former neighbor, Maurice "Sonny" Cohn, had "little other business or purpose," than to steer customers to Madoff's investment firm." Begging the question, why the hell would you NEED any other business or purpose when you're stealing money with Bernie and living high on the hog?
By the way, were you aware that the Titan of Enforcement, the Protector of the People, the S.E.C. has reached a partial settlement with Madoff? No? Have not seen it posted on the S.E.C.'s website? Hmm. That's surprising.
Anyhoo, details of the settlement released last week reveal that Madoff did not have to admit wrongdoing under the agreement, but he is barred from ever again working in the securities industry. That's just disgusting.
NB - is that SFL holding the lighter over his head , in the front row?