Chickens come home to roost as employers shun toxic Bush lawyers

Noting that Alberto Gonzales hasn’t been able to find a job since his 2007 resignation, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane reported on March 8, 2009, that David Addington has joined the pool of unemployable Bush administration attorneys. From their article Terror-War Fallout Lingers Over Bush Lawyers:

For some of Mr. Bush’s lawyers, the most likely consequence may be wariness from potential employers. The former White House counsel and attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, for example, has not found a job since resigning in 2007 amid accusations that he misled Congress about surveillance without warrants and the firing of United States attorneys.

He recently told The Wall Street Journal that the controversy surrounding him had made law firms “skittish” about hiring him, calling himself “one of the many casualties of the war on terror.” Mr. Gonzales’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, said in a statement that “Judge Gonzales looks forward to the day when reason prevails over partisan politics and he can get on with his professional life.”

David S. Addington, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was a forceful voice in internal legal debates, is also said to still be looking for work. The former Pentagon general counsel William Haynes II had been nominated by Mr. Bush for an appeals court judgeship, but was blocked because of his role in detention policies.

He then searched for a job for about a year, according to Pentagon officials, before landing a position at Chevron in 2008. [Emphasis supplied.]

h/t Zachary Roth, Report: Addington, Like Gonzo, Said To Still Be Looking For Work, March 9, 2009

Back on December 3, 2008, Carrie Johnson provided this update on D. Kyle Sampson:

D. Kyle Sampson, [broken link] who served as the chief of staff to Gonzales until his March 2007 resignation, recently took a leave from his job as a partner at the law firm Hunton & Williams while the investigation [by prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy who is investigating the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys] proceeds. A spokeswoman for the law firm said he is on leave “pending admission to the D.C. bar.” [Ed. note – As of this date, Mr. Sampson has not been admitted to the D.C. bar. Updated March 17, 2009 to add the word ‘not’ to the previous sentence in this Ed. note]

The report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine singled out Sampson for offering testimony that was “not credible” and “unpersuasive.” The authorities also concluded that Sampson had committed “misconduct.”

An attorney for Sampson previously said that Sampson had gone out of his way to help investigators and that he had offered “his best, most honest and complete recollection of these events.”

It’s shameful that these men are still licensed to practice law but, for whatever the reason and however temporary, they’re not practicing law. This doesn’t take the place of proper investigation by their respective bar associations and imposition of appropriate sanctions, but Messrs. Gonzales, Addington and Sampson are being judged quite harshly by their peers. For now.

* * * * * * * * * *

I sent the following email to Hunton & Williams requesting a response to some questions I had regarding the firm’s employment of Mr. Sampson:

Eleanor Kerlow
Senior Public Relations Manager, Hunton & Williams
(202) 955-1883
ekerlow@hunton.com

Ms. Kerlow,

I write The Grievance Project at which I have been following the career of D. Kyle Sampson. I am writing requesting Hunton & Williams’ response to the following questions related to Mr. D. Kyle Sampson.

  • Was the leave taken at the firm’s request?
  • Has the firm been contacted by Nora R. Dannehy regarding Mr. Sampson?
  • Has any other attorney at Hunton & Williams taken a leave from the firm due to Ms. Dannehy’s investigation?
  • Was a press release issued relating to Mr. Sampson’s leave? If so, please forward a copy to my attention.
  • Is it typical or policy for partners in Hunton’s D.C. office to take a leave from the firm while applying for admission to the D.C. bar?
  • Is Mr. Sampson welcome back to Hunton upon his admission to the D.C. bar?

Thank you for your attention to these questions.

I will update this post with any reply I receive.

Updated on March 11, 2009: Emptywheel and Scott Horton provide much more analysis on this issue here and here, respectively.

Updated on March 17, 2009: I haven’t received a reply from Ms. Kerlow or other official response from Hunton & Williams, so I resent the above email to Ms. Kerlow again asking for a response to my questions.   I also asked Ms. Kerlow whether she or someone else from Hunton & Williams stopped by TGP the other day:

From Statcounter :

VISITOR ANALYSIS
Referring Link No referring link
Host Name
IP Address 148.170.16.134 Hunton & Williams [Edit Label]
Country United States
Region Virginia
City Richmond
ISP Hunton & Williams
Returning Visits 0
Visit Length 0 seconds
VISITOR SYSTEM SPECS
Browser MSIE 6.0
Operating System Windows XP
Resolution Unknown
Javascript Disabled
Navigation Path
Date Time WebPage
March 14th 2009 03:42:18 PM No referring link
grievanceproject.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/chickens-come-home-to-roost-as-employers-shun-toxic-bush-lawyers/

From Sitemeter:

Domain Name (Unknown)
IP Address 148.170.16.# (Hunton & Williams)
ISP Hunton & Williams
Location
Continent : North America
Country : United States (Facts)
State : New York
City : New York
Lat/Long : 40.7619, -73.9763 (Map)
Language unknown
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 6.0
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; InfoPath.1)
Javascript disabled
Time of Visit Mar 14 2009 3:42:26 pm
Last Page View Mar 14 2009 3:42:26 pm
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL unknown
Visit Entry Page http://grievanceproj…-toxic-bush-lawyers/
Visit Exit Page http://grievanceproj…-toxic-bush-lawyers/
Out Click
Time Zone unknown
Visitor’s Time Unknown
Visit Number 9,798

Cross-posted at the Oxdown Gazette, Firedoglake‘s diary blog.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

E-mail to Alabama State Bar Office of Legal Counsel regarding unethical conduct of US Attorney Leura Garrett Canary

Tony McLain, General Counsel, Alabama State Bar
tony.mclain@alabar.org

Copies to:

Mr. Alex Lafayette Holtsford, Jr., President, Montgomery Bar Association
aholtsford@nixholtsford.com

Sam Partridge, Assistant General Counsel, Alabama State Bar
sam.partridge@alabar.org

Robert E. Lusk, Jr., Assistant General Counsel, Alabama State Bar
robert.lusk@alabar.org

Jeremy W. McIntire, Assistant General Counsel, Alabama State Bar
jeremy.mcintire@alabar.org

John Mark White, President, Alabama State Bar
mwhite@whitearnolddowd.com

Thomas James Methvin, President-Elect, Alabama State Bar
tom.methvin@beasleyallen.com

Pamela Harnest Bucy, Vice President, Alabama State Bar
pbucy@law.ua.edu

Keith Byrne Norman, Secretary, Alabama State Bar
keith.norman@alabar.org

Samuel Neil Crosby, Past President, Alabama State Bar
snc@sgclaw.com

Walter Edgar McGowan, Executive Council, Alabama State Bar
wem@glsmgn.com

Maibeth Jernigan Porter, Executive Council, Alabama State Bar
mporter@maynardcooper.com

Richard J. R. Raleigh, Jr., Executive Council, Alabama State Bar
rraleigh@wilmerlee.com

Hon. Leura Garrett Canary, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama
leura.canary@usdoj.gov

Dear Mr. McLain,

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys in the service of the government of the United States, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of the conduct of these attorneys that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility, including Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, Harriet Miers, Lisa Murkowski, John Yoo, Mark Everett Fuller, Monica Marie Goodling, Thomas W. Hartmann, Michael J. Elston, Patrick J. Rogers and, now, United States Attorney Leura Garrett Canary. Her claimed recusal from the prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman was and remains a sham and violates several of the rules of professional conduct of Alabama. These actions raise a substantial question as to her honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.

Mrs. Canary’s unethical conduct tarnishes the reputation of each member of the Alabama State Bar, including – if not especially – your own. Only a good faith investigation of Mrs. Canary by the Alabama State Bar Office of General Counsel and referral, if and when appropriate, to the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Committee to answer for her violations of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct will undo the damage she has done to the legal profession in Alabama. If the reputations of the Department of Justice and the Alabama State Bar are ever to be salvaged, Mrs. Canary must be investigated by the Alabama State Bar Office of Legal Counsel and referred to the Alabama State Bar Disciplinary Committee to answer for her violations of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct.

Although not a formal complaint, the documentation of Ms. Canary’s conduct that I have prepared and included below* (and posted here at The Grievance Project and here at Firedoglake’s Oxdown Gazette) establish prima facie violations of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. Pursuant to Rule 3(c) of the Alabama Rules of Disciplinary Procedure which permits you, as General Counsel, to initiate a disciplinary investigation or proceeding upon your “own motion in light of information received or acquired from any source[,]” it is incumbent on you to exercise your authority.

E.M./The Grievance Project

*I did not include the documentation in this post that I sent in the e-mail. It is posted here .

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

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

Cross-posted at the Oxdown Gazette, Firedoglake‘s new diary blog.

My third e-mail to Ms. Field:

Andrea Bear Field
DC Office Managing Partner
Hunton & Williams

cc: Kyle D. Sampson , Partner
Hunton & Williams

Dear Ms. Field,

On behalf of The Grievance Project, I would appreciate Hunton & Williams‘s response to the following items:

1. The most recent United States Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility and Office of the Inspector General report, An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006, which describes* additional allegations of unethical conduct by Hunton & Williams partner Kyle D. Sampson.

Professor Marty Lederman succinctly summarizes this matter at Balkinization:

The basic thrust of the Report, as I understand it, is that Kyle Sampson was acting in cahoots with the White House Counsel’s Office to fire disfavored U.S. Attorneys — at least some for possibly impermissible reasons — and that AG Gonzales and others at DOJ therefore left the entire project up to Sampson, stepping in merely to rubberstamp whatever decisions he reached in accord with the Counsel’s Office.

Is this type of conduct typical at Hunton & Williams? If not, why does Hunton & Williams continue to condone and encourage this type of conduct through its partnership with Mr. Sampson?

2. The appointment of Nora Dannehy as Special Prosecutor to review this matter, including your partner’s apparently central involvement in this scandal.

Update: The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Slater has published a profile of Ms. Dannehy. (h/t emptywheel)

3. Like the previous report, An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General, this most recent report again confirms my opinion that Mr. Sampson committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of both Utah and D.C that raise a substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness to practice law. Has Hunton & Williams reviewed whether Mr. Sampson’s conduct violated the Utah and D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct? If so, what was the conclusion of that review? If not, why not?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

E.M./The Grievance Project

*Section C of the DOJ OPR/OIG report:

As discussed above, Sampson was the person most responsible for creating the removal plan, selecting the U.S. Attorneys to be removed, and implementing the plan. Yet, after the controversy over the removals erupted, Sampson attempted to downplay his role, describing himself as the “aggregator” and denying responsibility for placing several of the U.S. Attorneys on the list.

We concluded that from start to finish Sampson mishandled the removal process. And, as discussed above, he inappropriately advocated bypassing the Senate confirmation process for replacing U.S. Attorneys through a strategy of “gum[ming] this to death” and “run[ning] out the clock” while appearing to act in good faith.

We were also troubled by Sampson’s claims that he did not recall the reasons for many of the removals or who had recommended that certain U.S. Attorneys be removed. For example, while Sampson said he did not place Iglesias on the list at the request of the White House, his recollection on this issue was varying and vague. We question why Sampson could not recall the precise reason why he placed Iglesias on the removal list, given the relatively short passage of time since the incident, and the fact that Iglesias’s name alone was added, for the first time, to the November 2006 list. Moreover, other misleading after-the-fact explanations for why Iglesias was placed on the list caused us to further doubt the candor of Sampson’s explanations. In the end, we question whether Sampson provided us the full story about Iglesias’s placement on the list, as well as the reasons for other U.S. Attorney removals.

As discussed in the sections that follow, we also concluded that Sampson made various misleading statements about the U.S. Attorney removals to the White House, Congress, and other Department officials.

1. Misleading Statements to the White House

Sampson’s misleading statements about the U.S. Attorney removals began as the selection process was unfolding. He misrepresented to the White House how the selections occurred. In an e-mail to Harriet Miers in January 2006 forwarding a list of names to the White House, Sampson wrote, “I list
these folks based on my review” of the EARS evaluations, and “my interviews with officials in the Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and the Criminal Division.” Sampson thus created the general impression that the EARS evaluations and his “interviews” of senior Department officials, including officials in the Criminal Division, formed the basis of his identification of specific U.S. Attorneys for removal.

However, Sampson admitted to us that he did not remember speaking to anyone in the Criminal Division about the performance of U.S. Attorneys, except “only in the most general terms.” He also acknowledged that he never reviewed any EARS evaluations. He told us that it would have been better if he had stated in the e-mail to Miers that it was based on his understanding of somebody else’s understanding of the reviews of the offices. [Footnote] 202[.] We believe that Sampson’s misleading statements to Miers gave the impression that the Department had engaged in a far more systematic and structured evaluation process to determine which U.S. Attorneys should be removed.

2. Misleading Statements to Congress

Sampson similarly misled congressional staff in his January 12, 2007, briefing that the removals were based on EARS evaluations. At this meeting, Sampson and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Richard Hertling briefed staff for Senators Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein about the removals. Sampson told the Senators’ staffs that the Department had been engaged in a process to identify underperforming U.S. Attorneys and that the process included a review of the EARS evaluations. The two staff members for the Senators told us that Sampson initially explained that the terminations were based on the EARS evaluations, but backtracked when Feinstein’s counsel pressed him for copies. According to both staff members, Sampson then explained that some of the removals were based on EARS evaluations, and some on other factors such as caseloads and responsiveness to Department policy initiatives.

According to Hertling, who said he knew little about the controversy at the time, Sampson attempted to impress upon the congressional staff that the removals were the result of a process the Department undertook to identify U.S. Attorneys who were the “weakest performers,” and that the process included a review of EARS evaluations. Hertling told us that one of the things that stuck in his mind was Sampson’s “specific reference” to EARS evaluations as a basis for identifying these particular U.S. Attorneys for termination.

However, Sampson claimed to us that he mentioned the EARS evaluations only in connection with Ryan’s removal. He said that he doubted he would have suggested that the other removals were based on the EARS evaluations because “that wouldn’t have been accurate.” Yet, based upon the recollection of the other witnesses at the briefing, including Hertling, we believe that Sampson misled the congressional staff that EARS evaluations played a more significant role in the Department’s decision-making process than they actually did.

Second, Sampson included misleading statements in the Department’s response to a February 8, 2007, letter from several Senators asking for information about the circumstances of Cummins’s resignation and Griffin’s appointment. Sampson, who drafted the response and circulated it in the Department and the White House for comment, had the final sign-off on the language in the response.

The response, which was sent on February 23, 2007, contained three misleading statements. The first was the statement that “it was well-known, as early as December 2004, that Mr. Cummins intended to leave . . . .” As we noted in Chapter Five, we found evidence that in drafting the response Sampson discovered a small news item in a free weekly Arkansas tabloid reporting that Cummins might begin exploring career options before the expiration of President Bush’s second term. However, Cummins told us he did not intend to resign at that time and was not looking for other employment. We also found no evidence that anyone at the Department was aware of the article until February 2007.

The second misleading statement in the Department’s response was that “the decision to have Mr. Griffin replace Mr. Cummins was first contemplated in spring or summer of 2006 [and] the final decision to appoint Mr. Griffin . . . was made on or about December 15 . . .” This statement is directly contradicted by the January 9, 2006, e-mail Sampson sent to Miers in which Griffin is listed as a replacement for Cummins. The second part of the statement, that the final decision to appoint Griffin was made around December 15, is also misleading. As noted in Chapter Five, Sampson informed Goodling on August 18, 2006, that the Attorney General would appoint Griffin Interim U.S. Attorney following Griffin’s return to the Department.

The third misleading statement in the Department’s response was that “The Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin.” This statement is contradicted by Sampson’s e-mail on December 19, 2006, to Associate White House Counsel Christopher Oprison in which Sampson wrote, “I’m not 100 percent sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority, but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” While Sampson later explained this e-mail by stating that he “assumed” but did not know that Rove was involved in the decision to appoint Griffin, we found this explanation unpersuasive and belied by the evidence.

3. Misleading Department Officials

Sampson also misled Department officials and allowed them to mislead others about several aspects of the U.S. Attorney removals.

First, in mid-December 2006 after media reports began questioning the circumstances of Griffin’s appointment, Sampson drafted talking points for the Department’s Office of Public Affairs to use to respond to media inquiries. In these talking points, Sampson wrote that “Griffin was appointed Interim U.S. Attorney because of the timing of Cummins’s resignation.”

In fact, as Sampson knew, Cummins had been removed so that Griffin could take his place. The Department’s talking points left the misleading impression that Griffin was appointed as Interim U.S. Attorney because of the unexpected timing of Cummins’s resignation, when in fact Cummins was told to resign to create a position for Griffin.

Second and more important, Sampson’s failure to disclose what he knew about the White House’s involvement in the removals caused McNulty and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella to provide inaccurate testimony to Congress. Both McNulty and Moschella testified that based on what they knew at the time, the White House was not involved in the removals until October 2006 and at that point became involved only to sign off on the process.

Sampson was present at staff preparation sessions before both McNulty’s and Moschella’s congressional testimony where the group discussed what they should say in their testimony. Several other participants told us that the question about the White House’s involvement was raised during at least one of McNulty’s preparation sessions, and McNulty indicated that he would tell Congress that the White House was involved to sign off on the process because U.S. Attorneys are Presidential appointments. This was a misleading statement about the extent and timing of the White House’s role, which Sampson knew. However, Sampson did not correct McNulty’s mistaken belief or inform him of the full extent of the White House’s involvement.

Consequently, in a closed briefing session on February 14, 2007, McNulty told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that the U.S. Attorney removal process began within the Department in September or October of 2006, and that the Department sent a list to the White House Counsel’s office in October and asked if they objected to the names. Similarly, Moschella testified incorrectly before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on March 6, 2007, based on what he had learned during the preparation sessions and from McNulty’s testimony, that the process to remove the U.S. Attorneys began in early October 2006 and that the White House eventually became involved in the removals, but only to sign off on the proposal because the U.S. Attorneys were Presidential appointees.

When we interviewed Sampson, he rationalized his not correcting the misimpression left at the preparation sessions by arguing that there were two separate phases of the process – the earlier “thinking” phase and the later “action” phase, and he said he was focused on the later action phase during the preparation sessions. We found Sampson’s testimony on this point not credible. Sampson sent three separate lists of U.S. Attorneys for removal to the White House for consideration before the fall of 2006. We believe that Sampson should have been more forthcoming at the preparation sessions about the White House’s involvement to ensure that McNulty and Moschella were aware of the facts and did not mislead Congress. Sampson’s failure to do so resulted in inaccurate and misleading testimony about a critical aspect of the controversy.

We concluded that Sampson engaged in misconduct by making misleading statements and failing to disclose important information to the White House, members of Congress, congressional staff, and Department officials concerning the reasons for the removals of the U.S. Attorneys and the extent of White House involvement in the removal process.

[Footnote] 202[:] However, even that would have been inaccurate because, as we noted in each of the U.S. Attorney chapters, with the exception of Ryan’s March 2006 EARS evaluation (which had not yet taken place), each of the EARS evaluations of the removed U.S. Attorneys was largely positive.

Report, pp. 346-351.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

E-mail to Michael J. Elston

Michael J. Elston
McGuire Woods, LLP
Washington Square, 1050 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 1200
Washington, District of Columbia 20036-5317
Telephone: 202-857-1700
Fax: 202-857-1737
melston@mcguirewoods.com

Dear Mr. Elston,

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys in the service of the government of the United States, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of conduct that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility, including Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, Harriet Miers, Lisa Murkowski, John Yoo, Mark Everett Fuller, Monica Marie Goodling, Thomas W. Hartmann and, now, yourself. In addition to the allegations in the complaint recently filed against you in Virginia by CREW, your conduct in the firing of the United States Attorneys also violated several of the rules of professional conduct of the Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia Bars. These actions also raise a substantial question as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.

I’m interested in your response to the criticisms that your conduct in your handling of both the firing of the United States Attorneys and hiring practices at DoJ violated your ethical obligations as a member of the Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia Bars.

E.M./The Grievance Project

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Some good news?

In his 1,000th column at White House Watch, Dan Froomkin quotes from Washington Post Staff Writer Carrie Johnson’s article that the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility notified unspecified bar associations of the findings of wrongdoing in An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General:

Separately, an official in the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility said the unit has notified bar associations of its findings against five lawyers singled out in reports thus far.

The elation I initially felt reading the portion of Ms. Johnson’s article that Mr. Froomkin excerpted was tempered when I read the complete paragraph:

Separately, an official in the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility said the unit has notified bar associations of its findings against five lawyers singled out in reports thus far. The bar groups could initiate their own disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers, who include former Justice Department White House liaison Monica M. Goodling; former attorney general chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson; and former deputy attorney general chief of staff Michael D. Elston. Two lower-ranking officials, Esther Slater McDonald and John Nowacki, also were cited in the previous reports and their bar associations were notified, the official said. (Emphasis supplied.)

First, either Ms. Johnson did not report or her source did not specify which bar associations that OPR notified of the various allegations. She also didn’t specify whether each bar association in which these attorneys are admitted was notified of the findings. For example, Michael J. Elston , a partner at McGuireWoods LLP , is a member of the Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia Bar Associations. Were each of these bar associations ‘notified’ of Mr. Elston’s conduct?

Second, and more importantly, OPR did not file grievance complaints against any of these five (5) attorneys. As reported by Ms. Johnson, OPR only “notified bar associations of its findings.” This is a distinction with a difference: mere ‘notification’ does not initiate a grievance review process. The effect of OPR’s notification, as Ms. Johnson notes, is that the bar associations “could initiate their own disciplinary proceedings.” This is no different than if a bar association employee had simply learned about An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General online or in a newspaper because, just as with the OPR notification, that bar association also “could initiate their own disciplinary proceedings.” So, unless and until one of these bar associations actually initiates a grievance review, OPR’s ‘notification’ has done nothing more than provide some positive press.

Second, either Ms. Johnson did not report or her source did not specify which bar associations OPR notified of the various allegations and whether each bar association in which one of these attorneys is admitted was notified of the findings. For example, Michael J. Elston , a partner at McGuireWoods LLP , is a member of the Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia Bar Associations. Were each of these bar associations ‘notified’ of Mr. Elston’s conduct?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Had enough yet?

The Legal Schnauzer shares a letter he recently received. In his post, Message From a Political Prisoner, he describes the receipt of the letter as “a profound experience recently, something I never dreamed would happen to me as a U.S. citizen.” He explains:

My letter was from Wes Teel, a former state judge in Mississippi who is in federal prison in Atlanta after being convicted in the Paul Minor case. Wes and I have never met; we’ve never even talked on the phone. But we got acquainted via e-mail when I began to write about the Minor case last September.

Wes and his codefendants, fellow state judge John Whitfield and well-know plaintiff’s attorney Paul Minor, had been convicted, and Wes was looking at reporting to federal prison in December 2007.

In our e-mail exchanges, I found Wes to be a man of keen intellect, common sense, and good humor–even in the face of going to prison for a crime he did not commit. I came to consider Wes a friend, and I shared his pain when he had a heart attack not long after reporting to federal prison. I shared his concerns about his wife, Myrna, who has multiple sclerosis and needed care while her husband was eight hours away in federal prison. I know he worried about his grandchildren and what they would grow up to think of a country that could imprison their grandfather simply for doing his job as a state judge.

On the surface, Wes and I might seem like unlikely friends. My blog started only because of the wrongdoing I had witnessed from lawyers and judges in Alabama state courts. Corrupt lawyers and judges have brought my wife and me to the edge of ruin–and here was Wes, a lawyer and former judge who was charged with being corrupt himself.

But here is one of many lessons I’ve learned from my Legal Schnauzer journey: Just because you’ve had a bad experience with someone in a certain profession, don’t assume that everyone in that profession is a bad actor.

After studying the Minor case at length, I realized that Wes Teel and John Whitfield were honest judges. They ruled for Paul Minor’s clients because that’s what the facts and the law required them to do. And I realized that, based on the evidence I had seen, Paul Minor was an honest lawyer. Certainly in the cases the government had used to build its prosecution, Minor acted properly, and his client prevailed because they should have prevailed.

The Minor case taught me that not even all Republican judges are corrupt. Another codefendant was Oliver Diaz, a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court who was tried and acquitted twice. And Diaz is a Republican.

I realized that the bad guys in the Minor case were not lawyers, judges, or even Republicans. No, it is that certain breed of Republican that has been infected by a virus that seems to have started with George W. Bush and Karl Rove and wound up sickening our entire justice system.

Wes Teel is a victim of that justice system. His letter made me sad, angry, and ultimately, determined:

Please go to the full post to read more excerpts of Mr. Teel’s letter, but contemplate this excerpt which, as noted by the Legal Schnauzer, answers the question:

What does it mean to be a political prisoner in the United States?

Due to the conviction, unless it is overturned, I am essentially no longer a citizen. I can’t vote, possess a firearm, hold a bond, run for public office, or ever practice law again. Despite all of this, I have a vested stake in the success of our Republic. I want my grandchildren to grow up and be proud of our constitution and our government. I pray that change will one day come, and my precious grandchildren can come to enjoy the freedoms instituted by our Founding Fathers and paid for by the blood and sacrifice of many patriots.

Had enough yet to file a grievance?

If not, there’s more. Juxtapose the politicized prosecutions of Wes Teel, John Whitfeld, Paul Minor, Oscar Diaz, Don Siegelman, Georgia Thompson and Dr. Cyril Wecht with the politicized refusal by Michael Mukasey to prosecute Michael Elston, Kyle D. Sampson and Monica Marie Goodling. Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine has named this selective failure to prosecute The Mukasey Doctrine and describes it like this:

Today [Attorney General Michael Mukasey] addressed the annual convention of the American Bar Association, and expanded upon what may be known to future generations as the “Mukasey Doctrine.” This doctrine holds that political appointees in the Justice Department who breach the public trust by using their positions for partisan political purposes face no punishment for their crimes. In the Mukasey view, this is all simple political gamesmanship—“boys will be boys”—and sufficient accountability is provided by exposing their games to the public limelight.

After reviewing in the briefest terms the recent internal Justice Department probe into the politicization of the hiring process in the honors program, with respect to immigration judges and in other areas, here’s what Mukasey has to say:

The conduct described in those reports is disturbing. The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it. That mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own Department. Some people at the Department deviated from that strict standard, and the institution failed to stop them.

I want to stress that last point because there is no denying it: the system failed. The active wrong-doing detailed in the two joint reports was not systemic in that only a few people were directly implicated in it. But the failure was systemic in that the system–the institution–failed to check the behavior of those who did wrong. There was a failure of supervision by senior officials in the Department. And there was a failure on the part of some employees to cry foul when they were aware, or should have been aware, of problems.

Note how Mukasey plays the entire affair down and uses the traditional language of the criminal defendant–for him it was a “system failure.” His language is passive: things evidently just happened. But in fact a closer read of the Inspector General’s report shows that the figures involved and the schemes adopted had a clear provenance in the White House, and specifically in the warren of Karl Rove. The actors under investigation, Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, had come with Alberto Gonzales from the White House. They benefited from an extraordinary delegation of authority from Gonzales that allowed them, two thirty-somethings with little experience, to exercise the authority of the attorney general in the hiring and firing process. This didn’t “just happen.” It was the result of a careful plan for partisan entrenchment at Justice—consciously pursued in defiance of the law. A serious investigation would have focused on the senior figures responsible for this program. So what is the penalty for such a systematic violation of the law? Well, according to Mukasey, there isn’t one. Those involved have already suffered enough. Yes, they suffer because their misdeeds are now known.

Their misconduct has now been laid bare by the Justice Department for all to see.

* * *

Mukasey insists that the process of partisan entrenchment has been checked following his arrival.

* * *

The message that Mukasey is sending seems to be this: he will refuse to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter, whatever the inspector general suggests. In the Mukasey view, it will be enough punishment for the truth to come out.

Had enough yet? Ready to file a grievance?

From Dana Jill Simpson by Glynn Wilson of The Locust Fork Journal spoke to Dana Jill Simpson, who explains why we need to continue this fight:

After hearing about the speech and reading the stories about it, North Alabama attorney Jill Simpson said in a statement that Mukasey is a “disgrace to our country” and those who really pursue justice.

She called on President George W. Bush to restore the rule of law and fire Mukasey.

“He is showing a complete lack of respect for the rule of law by not charging individuals who were part of the United States Justice Department that broke the law,” she said. “He is creating a class of individuals that are above the law in this country and that is wrong. They should be tried for the crimes they committed, but Mr. Mukasey told the ABA they are going to get off Scott free.”

“These Doj employees broke the law it doesn’t matter where they work, ignorance to the law is no excuse, plus the evidence suggests these folks knew what they were doing and broke the law anyway. They should be tried and, if convicted, punished for their crimes,” she said.

Or at least disbarred. It’s time to file grievances against these attorneys.

Updated August 13, 2008 to fix title.

Updated August 15, 2008: More on Wes Teel here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Update: E-mail to Professor John Yoo

Professor John C. Yoo
U.S. District Court Judge
jyoo@law.berkeley.edu

Dear Professor Yoo:

I previously sent this e-mail back in April of this year, but, unfortunately, left out the ‘j’ so I sent it to y-o-o @ law.berkeley.edu. I noticed this error today after reading your op-ed, Supreme Court grabbed more power in recent term, in The Philadelphia Enquirer, which included your correct e-mail address and am, therefore, resending this previous e-mail:

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys in the service of the government of the United States, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of conduct that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility, including Alberto Gonzales, Kyle D. Sampson, Harriet E. Miers and yourself. In my opinion, you have committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., that raise a substantial question as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.

I’m interested in your response to the criticisms that your conduct in your handling of the Torture Memos violated the Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct.

E.M.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,