Employment of Kyle D. Sampson reflects poorly on Hunton & Williams, LLP, No. 2


Updated March 10, 2009 to reflect Mr. Sampson’s leave of absence from Hunton & Williams.

My second e-mail to Ms. Field:

Andrea Bear Field
DC Office Managing Partner

cc: Kyle D. Sampson, Partner

Dear Ms. Field,

It has now been several months since I e-mailed you about your colleague, Mr. Kyle D. Sampson about his partnership in Hunton & Williams. As I noted in my prior e-mail, Mr. Sampson has committed numerous violations of the Utah and Washington, D.C., Rules of Professional Conduct. Since then, the United States Department of Justice Offices of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector Generals, in their report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General,

concluded that Sampson violated Department policy and federal law, and committed misconduct, by considering political or ideological affiliations when hiring IJs. Sampson knew that, historically, most IJ hiring was handled by career employees at EOIR. However, he moved that authority from EOIR and placed it in the OAG. Sampson told us that he had understood it was appropriate to consider “political criteria” in selecting IJs. He stated that his understanding was based on a conversation he had with Ohlson in April 2004 about the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority for IJs, combined with advice he claimed to have received from OLC that IJ hiring was not subject to civil service requirements.

However, as detailed above, Ohlson said he did not tell Sampson that direct appointments were exempt from federal civil service laws. Ohlson said he merely noted to Sampson that direct appointments had been used occasionally in the past to appoint IJs. Nor does the evidence support Sampson’s claim that OLC advised him that civil service laws did not apply to the career IJ positions. Neither OLC nor we could find any record of OLC ever providing such advice to Sampson, and the two officials he identified as possible sources of the advice – AAGs Goldsmith and Levin – had no recollection of advising Sampson that civil service laws did not apply to IJ hiring. To the contrary, the evidence showed that neither would have offered legal guidance on this point informally. While it is possible that Sampson mistakenly inferred on his own that civil service laws did not apply to direct appointments by the Attorney General, there is no evidence that he was ever so advised by OLC.

Moreover, as described in the document attached to his October 8, 2003, e-mail, Sampson sought to use the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority to appoint candidates as IJs who had been recommended by the White House and screened using political criteria
well before those conversations with OLC and Ohlson supposedly occurred. It is clear from Sampson’s October 8 e-mail that he contemplated using political considerations in IJ hiring at least 6 months before his conversation with Ohlson; at least 9 months before Levin (one
of the OLC Assistant Attorney Generals he cited as a possible source of OLC’s legal advice) became the head of OLC in July 2004; and before any conversation he had with Goldsmith (the other OLC Assistant Attorney General cited by Sampson), who did not begin serving in OLC until October 3, 2003, just 5 days before Sampson’s e-mail.

In sum, we concluded that the evidence did not support Sampson’s claim that he was advised by OLC that IJ positions were exempt from federal law governing career civil service positions.

Because the Attorney General’s direct appointment authority to hire IJs is a departure from the usual Department career hiring practices, we considered the possibility that Sampson may have been confused or mistaken about whether civil service laws apply to such hires. Yet, even if Sampson was confused or mistaken in his interpretation of the rules that applied to IJ hiring, we do not believe that would excuse his actions. His actions, which were carried out over a lengthy period of time and were not based on formal advice from anyone, systematically violated federal law and Department policy and constituted misconduct.

Report, pp. 117-118.

In sum, the evidence showed that Sampson, Williams, and Goodling violated federal law and Department policy, and Sampson and Goodling committed misconduct, by considering political and ideological affiliations in soliciting and selecting IJs, which are career positions protected by the civil service laws.

Report, p. 137.

This report confirms my opinion that Mr. Sampson committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of both Utah and Washington D.C that raise a substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer. Now that you know of this report, you may want to check whether you are now ethically obligated to report your partner to the Washington, D.C. Bar.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please advise if you or your unethical partner wish to comment about these charges.

E.M.

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6 Responses

  1. Brilliant grievance. Please post the reply… if there is one. Any argument in Sampson’s defense promises to be entertaining.

  2. pastnprint,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply. She didn’t reply to my first first e-mail so I doubt she’ll reply to this one.

    Although Mr. Sampson and Ms. Field (likely) won’t reply, two of their colleagues have stopped by to read about one of their partners. They must be swelling with pride.

    First visit to this post:

    148.170.16.66 (Hunton & Williams)

    New York, Brooklyn, United States, 0 returning visit

    Date Time WebPage
    July 30th 2008 06:32:54 AM

    Second visit to this post:

    148.170.64.97 (Hunton & Williams)

    New York, Brooklyn, United States, 0 returning visit

    Date Time WebPage
    July 30th 2008 09:05:07 AM

  3. […] Employment of D. Kyle Sampson reflects poorly on Hunton & Williams, LLP, No.2 […]

  4. […] Employment of D. Kyle Sampson reflects poorly on Hunton & Williams, LLP, No.2 […]

  5. TGP welcomes all guests, including this repeat visitor from Hunton & Williams:

    148.170.254.117 (Hunton & Williams) Hunton & Williams [Edit Label]
    Virginia, Richmond, United States, 0 returning visit
    Date Time WebPage
    July 7th 2009 05:04:28 PM No referring link
    grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/employment-of-d-kyle-sampson-reflects-poorly-on-hunton-williams-llp-no2/
    July 7th 2009 05:04:39 PM No referring link
    grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/employment-of-d-kyle-sampson-reflects-poorly-on-hunton-williams-llp/
    July 16th 2009 12:30:43 PM No referring link
    grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/employment-of-d-kyle-sampson-reflects-poorly-on-hunton-williams-llp/

    Since Ms. Bear and Ms. Kerlow refuse to comment on Mr. Sampson’s tenure at H&W, I’d appreciate your thoughts on the firm’s decision to hire him in the first place, his time at H&W and the taint he left upon his departure. The questions Mr. Kerlow refused to answer are here.

  6. Welcome, DOJ:

    VISITOR ANALYSIS
    Referring Link No referring link
    Host Name
    IP Address 149.101.1.132 [Label IP Address]
    Country United States
    Region District Of Columbia
    City Washington
    ISP Us Dept Of Justice
    Returning Visits 0
    Visit Length 0 seconds
    VISITOR SYSTEM SPECS
    Browser MSIE 7.0
    Operating System Windows Vista
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    Date Time WebPage
    August 25th 2009 02:20:04 PM No referring link
    grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/employment-of-d-kyle-sampson-reflects-poorly-on-hunton-williams-llp-no2/

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