Career prosecutor Dana Boente will retain a leadership position in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, The Washington Examiner reported.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride, who was confirmed Sept. 15, named Dana Boente as his top deputy. Boente served as the acting head of the office after Chuck Rosenberg resigned in October 2008. Boente was also Rosenberg’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney. The EDVA, in the suburbs of Washington, became one of the premier venues for national security cases after the 9/11 attacks.
Here are some highlights from the Examiner’s interview with Boente:
Examiner: What brought you to a career in prosecuting?
Boente: When I was first getting started in my legal career I came out to Washington to work in the Department of Justice. I thought I’d work there for three or four years and then move back to the Midwest and engage in corporate law. That was 26 years ago. It wasn’t the plan I started out with, but I enjoy it.
Examiner: How does newly appointed U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride compare with your old boss, Chuck Rosenberg?
Boente: They’re both low key guys, which is as helpful in that position as it is in mine. They have relaxed personalities.
Posted in News | Comments Off
The Senate confirmed six U.S. Attorneys this afternoon by unanimous consent.
-Steven Dettelbach (Northern District of Ohio): The partner at the Baker & Hostetler law firm was nominated July 14. Dettelbach will replace Gregory White, who resigned in 2008. Read more about Dettelbach here.
-Carter Stewart (Southern District of Ohio): The associate at the Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease law firm was nominated July 14. He will replace Gregory Lockhart, who resigned last month. Read more about the appointee here.
-Peter Neronha (Rhode Island): The Rhode Island Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated July 31. Neronha will replace Robert Clark Corrente, who resigned June 26. Read more about the appointee here.
-Daniel Bogden (Nevada): The former Nevada U.S. Attorney, who was fired during the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge, was re-nominated July 31. Bogden will replace Gregory Brower, whose resignation is effective Oct. 10. Read more about Bogden here.
-Dennis Burke (Arizona): Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s senior adviser on border security and law enforcement was nominated July 14. Burke will replace Diane Humetewa, who resigned Aug. 2. Read more about the appointee here.
-Neil MacBride (Eastern District of Virginia): The Justice Department Associate Deputy Attorney General was nominated Aug. 6. MacBride will replace Chuck Rosenberg, who resigned in October 2008. Read more about MacBride here.
The Senate has now confirmed all 11 U.S. Attorneys that have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On Thursday, the panel is slated to consider U.S. Attorney nominees Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington and Paul Fishman for New Jersey. After the committee votes on Durkan and Fishman, it will still have to consider five more U.S. Attorney nominees. The panel has not announced when it will vote on the five nominees.
Posted in News | Comments Off
The Senate Judiciary Committee reported four U.S. Attorney nominees out of committee today by voice vote.
-Daniel Bogden (Nevada): The former Nevada U.S. Attorney, who was fired during the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge, was re-nominated July 31. Bogden would replace Gregory Brower. Read more about Bogden here.
-Dennis Burke (Arizona): Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s senior adviser on border security and law enforcement was nominated July 14. Burke would replace Diane Humetewa, who resigned Aug. 2. Read more about the nominee here.
-Neil MacBride (Eastern District of Virginia): The Justice Department Associate Deputy Attorney General was nominated Aug. 6. MacBride would replace Chuck Rosenberg, who resigned in October 2008. Read more about MacBride here.
-Peter Neronha (Rhode Island): The Rhode Island Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated July 31. Neronha would replace Robert Clark Corrente, who resigned June 26. Read more about the nominee here.
“I think they are nominees worthy of confirmation,” Judiciary Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said at the meeting today.
The panel has now endorsed a total of 11 U.S. Attorney nominees, including five who were confirmed by the full Senate last month. Another seven U.S. Attorney nominees have yet to be considered by the committee.
Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) criticized Senate delays on DOJ nominees in prepared remarks for the confirmation hearing of Environment and Natural Resources Division nominee Ignacia Moreno and four federal judges.
DOJ nominees who are still awaiting Senate confirmation include Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel, Thomas Perez for the Civil Rights Division, Mary L. Smith for the Tax Division, and Christopher Schroeder for the Office of Legal Policy. In addition, two U.S. Attorney nominees — Steven M. Dettelbach for the Northern District of Ohio and Carter M. Stewart for the Southern District of Ohio – have already been reported out of committee and “deserve prompt consideration by the full Senate,” Leahy said.
Posted in News | Comments Off
Neil MacBride (Houghton College, University of Virginia School of Law) is nominated to replace Chuck Rosenberg, who resigned in October 2008 to become a partner at Hogan & Hartson in Washington.
- Born in Schenectady, N.Y., in 1965.
- Has been Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice since January.
- Served as general counsel and vice President of Anti-Piracy for Business Software Alliance from November 2005 until January.
- Was on the board of advisors at the Center on Law and Security from 2007 until 2009.
- Worked as the chief counsel and staff director to then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee from August 2001 until October 2005.
- Served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from April 1997 until August 2001.
- Was an associate at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, Chartered in Washington, D.C., from September 1993 until April 1997. Served as a summer associate at the firm in 1991.
- Also served as a summer associate at Green, Stewart & Farber in 1990.
- Clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Henry C. Morgan, Jr. in the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Was the editor of the Journal of Law & Politics from August 1990 until May 1992.
- Worked as a paralegal at Brown & Wood in New York, N.Y., from January 1989 until August 1989.
- Has worked on served political campaigns. Served as deputy press secretary on the Frank Lautenberg for U.S. Senate campaign from March 1988 until Nov. 1988. Worked as a regional field coordinator for Paul Simon for President from November 1987 until February 1988. Also was a field organizer for Biden for President from June 1987 until September 1988.
- Received the Department of Justice’s Special Achievement Award for outstanding performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1998 and 1999. Also earned the Bracewell & Patterson (now Bracewell & Giuliani) Moot Court Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy by a First Year at the University of Virginia School of Law. Graduated magna cum laude from Houghton College.
- Has tried approximately 45 cases, almost all of which he served as sole counsel, 45 percent of which went to a jury.
Click here for his full questionnaire.
UPDATE: On his disclosure, MacBride reported assets totalling $1.148 million and liabilities of $680,000, resulting in a net worth of $468,200.
On MacBride’s Office of Government Ethics Disclosure he reported a receiving a salary/bonus from Business Software Alliance of $412,000.
It would have been hard to add more drama to the April 7 hearing in the Ted Stevens case, which began with a humiliating admission from the government of prosecution errors and ended with dismissal of all charges against the former senator from Alaska.
But Judge Emmet Sullivan managed to pull one last rabbit out of the hat. As the hearing ended, he announced a criminal contempt investigation of the Stevens prosecutors. And a lawyer named Henry F. Schuelke III would lead it, Sullivan said.
Well-known and broadly admired among Washington’s fraternity of top-tier lawyers, “Hank,” as Schuelke prefers to be called, has cultivated a reputation for discretion. It’s a trait that has served the white collar criminal defense and investigations lawyer well over the years, in matters involving U.S. senators, judges, law firms, and lawyers.
In making the Schuelke appointment, Sullivan essentially signaled an end to the phase of public flagellation of the Stevens prosecutors. Schuelke would take on the delicate task of figuring out how the case went so wrong – and whether anyone had intentionally misled the defense.
Schuelke is the ultimate behind-the-scenes Washington counselor, and much of his work stops where the public record begins. In the course of a 41-year career, he has represented scores of high-profile clients, from President Jimmy Carter’s budget director, Bert Lance, to former Enron Corp. Treasurer Ben Glisan Jr.
After the April 7 hearing, Sullivan told me he received “countless calls, emails and comments” from D.C. judges and lawyers. They used words like “outstanding,” “perfect choice,” and “a home run,” to describe Schuelke’s appointment.
The federal judiciary is paying Schuelke $200 an hour to investigate the Stevens prosecutors, a fraction of the rate he would charge a private client. (His friends put him in the $750 to $1,000 range.) The lawyers representing the six prosecutors under investigation are also receiving $200 an hour. The Justice Department is footing their fees as well.
So for the lawyers involved, the case obviously isn’t about money. But it gives them something more valuable: the ability to tell clients they were in the thick of a sensitive investigation that could have consequences far beyond the Stevens case.
Broader Review Possible
A criminal prosecution would likely gut the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section of its top officials and add fuel to a broader review of PIN’s recent work.
William Welch II, the section’s chief, and his deputy, Brenda Morris, are both subjects of Sullivan’s criminal contempt investigation. They remain in supervisory roles, according to the Justice Department.
But two other prosecutors on the Stevens team, Nicholas Marsh and Edward Sullivan, were recently transferred out of the section to the Office of International Affairs, a department redoubt that offers scant opportunity for court appearances. Alaska-based Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Bottini and James Goeke, who are also under investigation, have continued in their current positions.
The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsiblity is conducting a parallel investigation, and the Criminal Divison is reviewing other Alaska-related corruption prosecutions, after Justice lawyers exhumed additional documents that were withheld from two convicted Alaska state representatives.
People familiar with the criminal contempt investigation say Schuelke is moving at a steady pace, culling thousands of documents from the Justice Department, though he’s had little contact with the prosecutors’ lawyers — an enviable clutch that includes Hogan & Hartson’s Chuck Rosenberg, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; O’Melveny & Myers partner Ken Wainstein, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia; and Patton Boggs partner Robert Luskin, former special counsel to DOJ’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.
Schuelke’s progress is difficult to track. His friends and colleagues told me he never discusses cases with them, unless they’re involved, and he rarely talks to reporters on the record. (He declined to be interviewed for this story.) His law partner of 30 years, N. Richard Janis, recalled his time working with Schuelke as counsel to the Senate ethics committee. Beginning in the late 1980s, the two lawyers spent 20 months investigating influence-peddling accusations against then-New York Sen. Alfonso D’Amato (R).
“There was never a leak of anything we did. We handled it in a very quiet and discreet manner,” Janis said. “If I were to draw a parallel, Hank’s view of his current assignment is very much the same.”
Throughout his career, Schuelke has seasoned his private practice with work for various bodies that police professional standards and ethics: the Senate ethics committee, the Judicial Tenure and Disabilities Commission, the Committee on Grievances for U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius partner Biz Van Gelder, who has known Schuelke for 20 years, called his ethics work “the functional equivalent of his pro bono.” She said, “He’s very well-versed in matters of professional responsibility and very well-versed in Brady and Giglio. He’s been doing this stuff for years” — all of it behind closed doors.
Van Gelder went on, “There are trial attorneys and there are counselors, and I think he’s always had more of an interest in being a counselor.”
His discretion in his professional life contrasts starkly with the flamboyant playthings of his personal life. He owns five motorcycles (two Harley-Davidsons, one of which his wife rides; a 1970 Norton Commando; a 1977 BMW R100s; and a Ducati Sport 1000). He drives a 1998 Porche 911 to his Dupont Circle office. And he keeps a 40-foot Bertram Sportfisherman and a Boston-Whaler Runabout at his home on the Chesapeake Bay.
The collection is at least a partial measure of his success, and the success of his seven-lawyer firm, Janis, Schuelke & Wechsler. The firm’s Web site is proudly unglamorous, a relic of 1990s-era design. There are no numbers for any media-relations specialists, no interactive graphics, no photos of the lawyers. The offices are located in an historic, brownstone row house on a leafy stretch of Massachusetts Avenue. The quaintness belies a steady flow of high-profile clients and ironclad relationships with larger firms around the city.
When I asked Janis to talk about some of the Schuelke’s triumphs, he paused. “One of the problems is that some of our best achievements nobody knows about.”
We All Respect Mr. Schuelke
Boards of directors, law firms and lawyers have relied on Schuelke and his colleagues. When the Jack Abramoff scandal exploded in 2004, Greenberg Traurig, the disgraced lobbyist’s firm, hired Schuelke to conduct the internal investigation. The work was highlighted recently in the case of one of Abramoff’s former associates, Kevin Ring, who is accused of lavishing lawmakers with free gifts, trips and meals, in return for helping his clients. The Public Integrity Section is handling the case, and Schuelke is a government witness. Welch, who has supervised the section since 2006, partially recused himself from the case after Ring’s defense lawyers raised questions about a potential conflict.
The incident underscored the close-knit nature of Washington’s legal community. Ring’s lawyer, Miller & Chevalier partner Richard Hibey, is one of Schuelke’s close friends.
“We’re proceeding on good faith on this, I hope you understand, especially given the relationships outside the courtroom you and I both enjoy,” Hibey told U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle, at an April 20 hearing in Washington.
“Right,” Huvelle said. “We all respect Mr. Schuelke.”
Grand Christmas Parties
Schuelke’s firm is known for its grand Christmas parties. For a few hours each year, the row house is thronged with the District’s top lawyers, judges and prosecutors. (“Everybody goes. It’s like peace on earth and goodwill to all men,” Van Gelder said.) This is not an idle fact, but a reflection of the firm’s business model: Schuelke and his partners are fed much of their work from other lawyers.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Robert Bennett said he regularly refers clients to Schuelke. The two have known each other for more than 20 years, and it was Bennett who recommended Schuelke for the special counsel position on the Commission for Judicial Disabilities and Tenure. (Bennett held the job before Shuelke.)
“When I have a need, I certainly recommend him,” Bennett said.
Crowell & Moring partner Rick Beizer, who has known Schuelke for nearly 40 years, said he often looked to Schuelke when he was representing a corporate client and needed counsel for a high-level executive.
“My first choice was always Hank. Sooner or later, he demonstrated his talents to my partners who work on these types of cases, and he became their go-to guy,” Beizer said.
Sparring with Edward Bennett Williams
Schuelke grew up in Maplewood, N.J., the second-oldest among three sisters. His father, Henry Schuelke Jr., was an underwriter for Metropolitan Life Insurance in New York. His mother, Eleanor Carton Schuelke, was a dietician, and later taught home economics and family living at a high school in West Orange, N.J. Shuelke’s older sister, Margie Schuelke, who still lives in Maplewood, said her brother was an easy-going kid — the kind who made friends easily, brought home stray dogs and generally stayed out of trouble.
His sister described Schuelke as a devoted husband and father of two who dotes on his four grandchildren, one of whom was born earlier this month. He’s a hard worker, Margie Schuelke said, “but he knows how to enjoy himself, and he enjoys nothing more than his family.”
Schuelke attended St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, where he majored in English and was editor of the yearbook. He was a strong student, and the family was proud, but not surprised, when he was accepted into Villanova University School of Law.
After he graduated in 1967, Schuelke joined the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He spent nearly four years as a JAG officer, including three as a military judge, before joining the U.S. attorney’s office in 1972. Beizer, who is also a former assistant U.S. attorney, said Schuelke established himself early on as one of the office’s top prosecutors.
“He got it right away. He has an uncanny sense for getting to the heart of any matter,” Beizer said. “I’m one of those guys who has to read every document and mull it around six ways to Sunday. I’m not sure how the hell he does it, but if he could patent it, I’d buy it.”
Schuelke was eventually elevated to executive assistant U.S. attorney, the third-in-command, in the late 1970s. From that perch, he was involved in every major case the office handled.
In 1978, Schuelke and Beizer famously squared off against Edward Bennett Williams, the founder of Williams & Connolly, and two of his proteges, Gregory Craig (now President Obama’s White House Counsel) and David Kendall (President Bill Clinton’s personal lawyer during impeachment). Williams and his colleagues were defending developer Dominic Antonelli Jr., the chairman of Parking Management Inc. (PMI), against charges that he bribed a D.C. public official in exchange for building leases.
The young prosecutors won at trial in Washington, but the verdict was ultimately thrown out on the grounds of juror bias. The case was re-tried in Philadelphia, and Williams won. Schuelke’s family drove down from North Jersey to watch the show. They were impressed with Schuelke’s pluck, as was Williams, an icon then as now.
The scene after the verdict is recounted in Evan Thomas‘ biography of Williams, The Man to See. When congratulated after the trial, Williams gave a desultory answer. “Victory?” he said. “All we did was split a double-header.”
That was the last case Schuelke tried as a federal prosecutor before founding his firm, in 1979, with Janis and Lawrence Wechsler, another veteran of the District’s U.S. attorney’s office. Schuelke’s first client as a private lawyer was Carter’s budget director, Lance, who was accused of misusing bank funds. Lance was acquitted of most of the counts and the jury deadlocked on the balance. The Justice Department elected to drop the case.
He has since represented several other high-profile clients, including White House Secretary Carolyn Huber, who found Hillary Clinton’s Rose Law firm billing records during the Whitewater investigation; Tyson Foods lobbyist Jack Williams; and former Time reporter Viveca Novak, in connection with the CIA leak case.
And then there are the ones we’ll never know about.
Now, Schuelke is again at the invisible center of another high-profile probe.
During the six-day gap between the Justice Department’s April 1 motion to dismiss the Stevens case and the April 7 hearing at which Sullivan granted it, the judge made two decisions. The first was hard. The second was easy.
Sullivan, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, pored over the record, and after “much consideration,” resolved to appoint an outside counsel to investigate the six prosecutors for criminal contempt, according to an e-mail from his chambers in response to a list of questions. The government’s numerous failures to turn over potentially exculpatory documents to Stevens’ lawyers had driven the case off a cliff. But the wreckage deserved further inspection, the judge determined.
After the hard decision was made, Sullivan moved on to the easy choice: Hiring Schuelke to lead the probe.
Sullivan knew Schuelke from their days serving together on the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure. The judge was a member of the commission from 1996 to 2001. Since 1982, Schuelke has been the commission’s special counsel, a low-profile but powerful position, the duties of which include investigating hundreds of allegations of judicial misconduct each year and gauging judges’ fitness to serve on the local bench. (Attorney General Eric Holder was also a member of the commission while a partner at Covington & Burling.)
Sullivan said he was swayed by Schuelke’s ability to handle sensitive matters with “great skill, intelligence, discretion, honesty, and fairness.” The judge also sought someone with prosecutorial experience — Schuelke’s seven years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District fit the bill. Sullivan also cited Schuelke’s service as a military judge and as special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.
Sullivan told me in an interview in his courtroom last month that he has received calls from judges around the country, bemoaning the government’s discovery practices and supporting his efforts to reform them. Some, such as Chief Judge Mark Wolf of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, have joined Sullivan in publicly scolding the department for violating discovery obligations.
Sullivan has petitioned the federal judiciary’s policy-making body to stiffen rules governing discovery practices. Failing that, he said he would push his court to adopt local rules, and as a last resort, he said he is considering issuing standing orders in each of his cases to ensure timely production.
Holder, Sullivan added, deserves much praise for dropping the Stevens case and requiring additional evidence training for Justice Department lawyers.
No doubt Hank Schuelke will have some advice to offer at some point – but he’ll do it with total discretion, of course.
Posted in News | Comments Off
The New York Times has a terrific story today about the battles between the Justice Department and the White House in 2005 over legal authorization of torture. Reporters Scott Shane and David Johnston give a contrarian take on the roles of two of the “heroes” of that bitter internal debate – then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey and Acting Office of Legal Counsel head Dan Levin, who protested the methods — and puts one of the “villains, “Office of Legal Counsel head Steven Bradbury, in a more sympathetic light. The Times says Comey and Levin agreed the techniques were legal even though they strongly protested their use. Read the story here
What we found the most interesting, though, were the internal emails the Times obtained from Comey to his then-chief of staff, Chuck Rosenberg. (It’s our guess the leak has something to do with the long-delayed release of the Office of Professional Responsibility inquiry into the DOJ lawyers who authorized torture). The emails showed Comey warning repeatedly that while certain interrogation methods might be technically legal, they were wrong and disastrous as policy. Comey fretted about the terrible hit the DOJ as an institution could take as well.
In an April 27, 2005 email to Rosenberg, Comey referred to a favorite tactic of the Bush DOJ — keeping top officials in an “acting” capacity so they’d feel more vulnerable and thus be more pliable. At the time, there was immense pressure on Bradbury from then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top lawyer, for the OLC to approve a reauthorization of certain torture techniques in 2005. Comey wrote:
“I have previously expressed my worry that having Steve as “Acting”– and wanting the job — would make him susceptible to just this kind of pressure.”
In an April 28 email to Rosenberg, Comey said he strongly warned Ted Ullyot, a former White House lawyer then serving as Gonzales’s chief of staff, about the political dangers the AG faced if he succumbed to the pressure from the Vice President and White House.
“I told him the people who were applying pressure now would not be there when the [expletive] hit the fan. It would be Alberto Gonzales in the bull’s-eye. I told him it was my job to protect the department and the A.G. and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong. I told him it could be made right in a week, which was a blink of an eye, and that nobody would understand at a hearing three years from now why we didn’t take that week.”
Comey also relayed a conversation he’d had with Patrick Philbin, an OLC lawyer who was part of the “principled conservative” group that tried to block the flawed legal analysis. Comey said he’d lamented to Philbin that it was fruitless to try speaking directly again to Gonzales, and expressed dismay that Ullyot had no interest in protecting Gonzales the way former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s long-time loyal chief of staff, David Ayers, would have protected Ashcroft.
“I told him I didn’t see a need, given that I had just said things to his chief of staff [Ullyot] that would have lit the prior AG’s COS’s hair on fire. He pointed out that [David] Ayers would never allow this and never allow the AG to be in such jeopardy.” Comey added that the whole mess ”leaves me feeling sad for the Department and the AG.”
“Once again, Patrick Philbin has been the voice of intellectual honesty, and rigor and principle. The world will never know what a hero that young man is. ….. People may think it strange to hear me say I miss John Ashcroft, but as intimidated as he could be by the WH, when it came to crunch time, he stood up, even from an intensive care hospital bed. That backbone is gone.” …
“Please stay in touch with Pat on this. He has been very strong and principled, as usual, but they will put a lot of pressure on him in my absence.”
Posted in News | 3 Comments »
Participating in a panel discussion at O’Melveny & Myers, former Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Alice Fisher and other former Bush DOJ officials expressed concern about the new enforcement environment, reports the BLT.
Fisher, now a partner at Latham & Watkins, likened the Obama administration’s stepped up enforcement to Dr. Octopus, a villian from the Spiderman movies, “His arms just keep going and going and going,” she said.
The rhetoric sounded like talk you hear during campaign season.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Chuck Rosenberg said that businesses feel like they are taking “a walk in the woods with a very hungry grizzly bear. …The bear’s going to get you if you’re a lagger.”
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff simply stated, “It’s going to be rough, is the bottom line.” Chertoff is now senior of counsel at Covington & Burling.
The panel was moderated by former Bush Homeland Security adviser to Ken Wainstein, who is a partner at O’Melveny.