The Senate Judiciary Committee has added six nominations to the agenda for its Thursday business meeting — three U.S. Attorney nominees and three controversial figures nominated to be Assistant Attorneys General.
The three U.S. Attorney nominees are Andre Birotte Jr. (Central District of California), Richard Hartunian (Northern District of New York) and Ronald Machen (District of Columbia). All three were nominated Dec. 23. Read more about Birotte here. Read more about Hartunian here. Read more about Machen here.
The agenda also includes three high ranking Justice Department appointees whose nominations were not acted on by the Senate last year and whose nominations were returned to the White House at the end of last year’s session — Mary L. Smith to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Christopher Schroeder to head the Office of Legal Policy and Dawn Johnsen, to head the Office of Legal Counsel. President Obama re-nominated the three earlier this month.
Although the names of Smith, Schroeder and Johnsen were placed on this week’s agenda, committee Republicans have the right to delay action for a week.
The panel’s top Republican, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has formally asked committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to schedule another hearing on the Johnsen nomination. Leahy sent a letter to Sessions regarding the Republican’s request, a Senate aide told Main Justice. It is unclear what the letter said.
Sessions also said Republicans would likely support additional hearings on Smith and Schroeder as well, although he has not formally made such a request.
Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.
This post has been updated from an earlier version.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee has released questionnaires for an additional five U.S. Attorney nominees. Information from their Office of Government Ethics disclosures will be added as it becomes available.
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Andre Birotte, Jr. (Tufts University, Pepperdine University School of Law) has been nominated to replace Thomas P. O’Brien as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. O’Brien resigned Sept. 1, 2009, to join the white-collar criminal defense practice in the Los Angeles offices of the Paul Hastings law firm. The Los Angeles-based district’s acting U.S. Attorney is George S. Cardona.
- Born in Newark, N.J., in 1966.
- Has been the Los Angeles Police Commission’s inspector general since May 2003.
- Served as the the police commission’s acting inspector general from December 2002 to May 2003.
- Was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law from August 2003 to May 2004.
- Worked as the Los Angeles police commission’s assistant inspector general from April 2001 to November 2002.
- Was an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in Los Angeles from November 1999 to April 2001.
- Served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles from January 1995 to August 1999.
- Worked as a Los Angeles County deputy public defender from December 1991 to December 1994.
- Was a volunteer law clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles from January 1991 to April 1991.
- Worked as a legal intern in the San Diego County public defender’s office from May 1990 to August 1990.
- Was a law clerk at Kohrs & Fiske in Santa Monica, Calif., during the summer of 1989.
- Worked as a law clerk at Bross, Strickland, Cary & Grossman in Newark, N.J., from July 1987 to July 1988.
- Received the Wind Beneath My Wings Award from the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives in 2008.
- Has tried approximately 40 criminal jury trials. Of those, he was sole counsel in 35 and co-counsel in five. He also tried one civil jury trial as co-counsel.
Click here for his full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.
On his Office of Government Ethics disclosure, Birotte reports earning $330,000 from his inspector general job. Also noted is $2,200 he earned from Train West Hollywood for work as a personal fitness trainer. Check out his trainer profile page.
UPDATE: On his Senate Judiciary financial disclosure, Birotte reported assets valued at $1 million, mostly from $750,000 in real estate. He reported liabilities of $594,000. His net worth is $407,100.
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A misstep by a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Central District of California has cost the office the option of prosecuting a former business official allegedly involved with securities fraud, The American Lawyer reported.
The case involves the former CFO of Broadcom, William Ruehle. In June 2008, Ruehle and Henry T. Nicholas III, the co-founder and former president and CEO of Broadcom, were charged with improperly backdating stock options.
On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney granted a motion by Ruehle’s attorneys to grant immunity to ex-Broadcom general counsel David Dull and Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli, who had indicated they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to avoid testifying, The American Lawyer reported.
After the judge granted immunity, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Stolper phoned Dull’s attorneys. Stolper told Dull’s lawyers that their client could be charged with perjury if he provided prosecutors with the same answers he gave the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the case, according to an Orange County Register report cited by The American Lawyer.
Dull had not been criminally charged in the case but was named in an SEC complaint, according to The American Lawyer. Dull’s lawyers — James Asperger of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges and Seth Aronson of O’Melveny & Myers — reported the call to the judge. Cormac J. Carney called a hearing in response to the call.
During the hearing, Stolper indicated the purpose of the call was to clarify the law, The American Lawyer said. But Carney suggested the call was an attempt to influence testimony. “I do believe there was government misconduct, but cannot tell from testimony of witnesses if there was an actual threat to Mr. Dull,” the judge said.
Robb Adkins, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the office, told The Orange County Register that Stolper’s phone call was “a bad idea.” He added, “That, in my view, is extremely regrettable.” Adkins told The Register that as result of the phone call the U.S. Attorney’s office will be unable to prosecute Dull.
According to The National Law Journal, Dull was expected to sign a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office, headed by acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona, by the end of this week.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the sequence of events. The motion to grant immunity was not filed in response to AUSA Stolper’s call to Dull’s attorneys. The motion to grant immunity to Dull in exchange for his testimony was granted before Stolper’s call. The story also incorrectly stated that the prosecutor, Stolper, was granted immunity. Main Justice regrets the errors.
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There is “growing consensus” that the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general, Andre Birotte Jr., will be nominated as U.S. Attorney for California’s Central District, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Neither the White House nor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who’s in charge of recommending Los Angeles’s next top federal prosecutor, would comment, the newspaper said. However, colleagues of Birotte have been interviewed by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, the LAT said. Such background checks are a sign that a candidate is well along the way toward nomination.
LAPD Chief William J. Bratton told The LAT he met with an FBI agent on numerous occasions regarding Birotte. An unidentified person interviewed by the FBI told the LAT, “The inference I drew is that they’re doing the final vetting for him.”
Birotte, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, would be the first black man to serve as U.S. Attorney in the Central District, the LAT said.
Feinstein interviewed three candidates in August, including Birotte, the newspaper said. The two other candidates were Brian J. Hennigan, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Irell and Manella; and Michael Raphael, chief of the criminal appeals section in the U.S. Attorney’s office in LA.
Hennigan and Raphael have been notified that Feinstein won’t be recommending them to the White House for the job, the paper said.
The last Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney in the district was Thomas P. O’Brien, who resigned last month to join the white-collar criminal defense practice at the Paul Hastings law firm in LA.
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The Justice Department will meet next week with gay rights groups who are angry about the DOJ’s decision to uphold the federal Defense of Marriage Act which leaves the decision to recognize gay marriage up to the states, The Plum Line reported this afternoon.
We previously reported that the DOJ invoked DOMA in a motion filed last week in California to dismiss the first gay marriage case filed in federal court. The DOJ said the case should be handled by a state court because it involves a gay couple married in California.
The Plume Line’s Greg Sargent said the meeting to discuss DOMA concerns will likely include major gay rights organizations GLAD and Lambda Legal. But the meeting might not do too much for the groups, he said.
“It remains to be seen, however, whether the meeting will achieve in a long term sense what gay rights lawyers told me they were and are looking for — an ongoing, less-confrontational interaction with the administration in the context of specific cases,” Sargent wrote. “It’s also an open question whether the meeting will resolve broader tensions in what has been an unexpectedly rocky relationship.”
The meeting is the latest effort by the Obama administration to mend bridges after infuriating the gay community last week. Earlier this week, the Justice Department told GLAD that gay couples could now use their married names in their passports, The Associated Press reported today.
The Justice Department filed a motion Thursday night in California to dismiss the first gay marriage case filed in federal court, but the move wasn’t a rallying cry for gay rights, the Associated Press reported today. To the contrary, gay rights activists are livid.
Although President Obama campaigned for gay rights while running for president, the Obama DOJ isn’t using the case of a gay couple who married in California during a five-month window when same-sex marriage was legal as a vehicle to argue for the right to marry. Instead, the DOJ wants the case dismissed because federal court is not the correct venue for a case involving a gay couple married in California, according to The AP. Prosecutors said the case isn’t about allowing gay couples to marry. Rather, the DOJ said it is about whether individual states should give equal rights to gay couples as they do same-sex couples, the AP reported.
“This case does not call upon the Court to pass judgment … on the legal or moral right of same-sex couples, such as plaintiffs here, to be married,” the motion states. “Plaintiffs are married, and their challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act poses a different set of questions.”
The federal 1996 Defense of Marriage Act leaves the decision of recognizing gay marriage up to the states.
Former Solicitor General Ted Olson did an about-face from his fellow conservatives yesterday, and has come out fighting California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage after it was upheld this week by the California Supreme Court, The Recorder reported today.
Although unexpected, what is even more surprising is that Olson — who represented President Bush in Bush v. Gore — is joining forces with liberal attorney David Boies, who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. The unlikely pair filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in a San Francisco federal court on behalf of a gay couple and a lesbian couple, according to The Recorder.
“We may vote differently from time to time,” Olson said at a press conference. “But we felt it was very important to present a united front and tell the courts this is not about right or left, conservative or liberal.”