Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’
Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

U.S. Attorney Ron Machen of the District of Columbia formally swore in nearly three dozen of his Assistant U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday in the ceremonial courtroom of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse.

The 34 Assistant U.S. Attorneys sworn in during the ceremonial investiture took office between December 2009 and January 2011. Many of the lawyers are a few years out of law school and held judicial clerkships or jobs at law firms or state prosecutors’ offices before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Machen told the scores of Assistant U.S. Attorneys and their families and friends gathered that he was proud of the new Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr., Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney for External Affairs Wendy Pohlhaus and Matthew Jones, who is Machen’s Counsel. [Article continues below]

D.C. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen administers the oath of office to 33 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys. (photo by Andrew Ramonas / Main Justice)

Machen, who was a D.C. prosecutor from 1997 to 2001, said the Assistant U.S. Attorneys are set to make their own mark on an office with a storied past that includes Attorney General Eric Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney from 1993 to 1997.

But he said their jobs won’t be easy and will include many long nights. ”I will be clear: Many of these folks will work harder than they have ever worked before,” Machen said.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division, who was there to see family friend Philip Selden sworn in, told the new Assistant U.S. Attorneys that they have a great profession. He told them to “milk it for all you can.”

“You are all incredibly lucky,” Breuer said. “This is an extraordinary office.”

The new Assistant U.S. Attorneys, with biographical information provided by DOJ, are:

  • Damian Ahn — Demian graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 2003. During law school, Demian was an associate editor and a contributing editor for the Michigan Law Review and a quarterfinalist in the 2002 Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition. Following law school, Demian clerked for the Honorable Frederick J. Martone of the United States District Court for the District Court of Arizona. Thereafter, Demian joined Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering Hall & Dorr LLP in D.C. and was named Counsel at the firm in 2010. In September 2010, Demian started with our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, where he continues to practice.
  • Kendra Briggs Kendra graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002, where she sat on the Moot Court Board. After law school, Kendra served as Assistant General Counsel to the Florida Department of Transportation and then worked on product liability litigation at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP in D.C. In November, Kendra joined our Office. She has been assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section since her arrival.
  • Michelle Brown — Michelle graduated magna cum laude form Cornell Law School in 2004. There, Michelle was elected to the Order of the Coif and was the managing editor of the Cornell Law Review. Following graduation, Michelle clerked for the Honorable Julia Smith Gibbons of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. After a stint with Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, Michelle clerked for Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She then moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. In January 2011, Michelle relocated from New York and joined our Office. She currently serves in the Appellate Division.
  • Natalia Burnett — Natalia graduated cum laude from University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2006. While in law school, Natalia was awarded membership in the National Order of Barristers for Excellence in Moot Court and Appellate Advocacy. After law school, Natalia worked as an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP in Miami before joining our Office in November. Since then, Natalia has been assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section.
  • Nicholas Cannon — In 2006, Nick graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law, where he was a
    member of the Moot Court Board. During the summers of his law school years, Nick interned with our Office. He worked in the Homicide Section in 2005 and the Appellate Division in 2006. After law school, Nick spent two years working at law firms both in the Washington, D.C. area and in Falls Church, Virginia. In 2010, Nick began serving in our Office in the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section. Since that time, Nick has rotated to the Felony Unit of the General Crimes Section, where he prosecutes felony gun and drug cases.
  • Kevin Chambers — Kevin received his Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in 2004. While in law school,
    Kevin served as a class representative and as a board member for the Moot Court Competition among his many activities. Following law school, Kevin joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr as an associate. In 2006, Kevin began a one-year clerkship with Judge Harry Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Thereafter, Kevin returned to Wilmer Hale, where he remained until he joined our Office in August 2010. Since then, Kevin has practiced in our Appellate Division.
  • Vincent H. Cohen Jr. — Vincent H. Cohen Jr. returns to an office where he served with distinction from 1997 to 2003. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he conducted grand jury investigations and obtained indictments for cases involving bribery and gratuities, embezzlement, false claims, theft of government property and Worker’s Compensation fraud. He also prosecuted cases involving homicides, carjackings and other violent crimes. On the civil side, Cohen defended the United States against allegations of employment discrimination, suits under the Federal Torts Claims Act, and challenges to agency actions. He received numerous awards for his outstanding efforts, including honors from the Attorney General of the United States as well as from the Offices of Inspector General of the Department of State and the Smithsonian Institution. Cohen most recently was a partner at the law firm of Schertler & Onorato LLP, where his practice included representation of individuals and corporations in all aspects of criminal and civil litigation in state and federal courts. He handled cases involving public corruption, bank fraud, bribery, internal corporate investigations, government fraud, antitrust, health care fraud, securities fraud, congressional inquiries and homicide. His civil experience included representation of both plaintiffs and defendants in the areas of products liability, employment discrimination, premises liability and personal injury.
  • Laura Coates — Laura graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law school in 2005. In law school, Laura served as a team member and the student director for the National Appellate Advocacy Competition. Following law school, Laura practiced at law firms in Minnesota and New York before relocating to Washington, D.C. and joining the Voting Rights Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In January 2011, Laura started her tenure with our Office. She currently practices in our Appellate Division.
  • Jeffrey Cook — Jeff graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University of Law in 2006. While in law
    school, Jeff was a member of the law review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. After law school, Jeff joined the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP in D.C. and then clerked for Judge Ricardo Urbina of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. Thereafter, Jeff served as the legal program coordinator of the International Justice Mission for a year and was based in Cambodia. In August 2010, Jeff joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section. Currently, Jeff handles a specialized caseload of sexual abuse and child physical abuse matters in that Section.
  • Benjamin Eisman — In 2003, Ben graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. During law school, Ben worked as a summer intern in the Criminal Division of our Office. In the fall semester of his last year of law school, Ben was an extern at a criminal legal clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa. After law school, Ben worked for a couple of law firms, clerked for Judge William Q. Hayes of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and taught international human rights courses at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. In December 2009, Ben joined our Office. Since then, he has rotated through the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section and the Appellate Division. He now serves in the Felony Unit of the General Crimes Section.
  • James Ewing — James is a 2002 graduate of the College of William and Mary School of Law, where he worked as the Articles Editor for the William and Mary Law Review. In September of 2002, James joined the U.S. Army Juge Advocate General’s Corps. He spent time serving as chief Army prosecutor for all U.S. Army personnel in Europe stationed South of the Alps. He represented individual military members in military courts in Italy, Germany and the United States. He also served as lead liaison between U.S. forces and the South Korean justice system. In July 2010, James joined our Office and began the rotation in the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section. He now serves in the Felony Unit of the General Crimes Section.
  • Michael Friedman — Michael is a 2004 graduate of Yale Law School. During law school, he was a finalist in the
    Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals. Following law school, he joined the Department of Justice’s Civil Division as a trial attorney in the honors program. After fours year, Michael moved to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland where he worked on civil matters. In March 2010, Michael started in our Office and was assigned to the Appellate Division. He has since rotated to the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section, where he handles a specialized caseload of sexual abuse and child physical abuse matters.
  • John Fucetola — John graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School in 2006. While in law school, he served as a student attorney in our Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section. After law school, John clerked for Judge Craig Iscoe of D.C. Superior Court. For the three years thereafter, he served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County. In December, John joined the Office and was assigned to the Appellate Division, where he is currently serving.
  • Javier Guzman — Javier graduated cum laude from Tulane Law School in 1991. He was elected to the Order of the Coif and was a member of the Moot Court Board among his many law school activities. Upon graduating, he joined Crowell & Moring LLP in D.C. From there, he moved to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In 2006, Javier relocated to Florida and began his tenure with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, Civil Division. Last year, Javier returned to the D.C. area and started with our Office in the Civil Division.
  • Andrea Hertzfeld — Andrea graduated from Harvard Law School in 2004. While in law school, she served as a law clerk for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Since law school, Andrea has worked in several law firms prosecuting complex class actions on behalf of plaintiffs. Most recently, she worked an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP in Los Angeles. In December, Andrea relocated to D.C. and joined the Office. She was assigned to the Appellate Division, where she continues to practice.
  • Travis Hill — Travis is a 2005 graduate of the Washington University School of Law. While in law school, Travis spent a semester at the St. Louis County Public Defender’s Office in Clayton, Missouri. He also worked at the City of St. Louis Law Department. In 2006, Travis joined the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in Queens, New York where he remained until he started with our Office in January 2011. Travis is currently serving in our Appellate Division.
  • Matthew Jones — Matt graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2005. There, he was the notes editor for the Harvard Law Review and a teaching assistant for contracts among his many school activities. Following law school, Matt clerked for the Honorable W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr in D.C. In May 2010, Matt began his tenure in our Office. He currently serves as Special Counsel to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
  • Anton Jongeneel — Anton is a 2007 graduate of Columbia University Law School. In law school, he was a Harlan Fisk Stone Scholar and a member of the executive board of the Columbia Law School Student Senate. Following law school, Anton spent the summer serving as a consultant with the United States Marine Corps, Foreign Training Unit at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He then joined the Los Angeles Office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In January 2010, Anton relocated to Washington D.C. and began his tenure with our Office. Initially, he was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section and spent time there
    handling a specialized caseload of sexual abuse and child physical abuse matters. Currently, Anton serves in the Felony Unit of the General Crimes Section.
  • Jonathan Kravis — Jonathan is a 2004 graduate of Yale Law School. In law school, he served as the articles editor for the Yale Law Journal in his third year (2003-04) and the editor of the Yale Law Journal in his second year (2002-03) among his many activities. Subsequently, Jonathan clerked for Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then went on to a clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, Jonathan joined Williams & Connolly LLP, where he remained until he joined our Office in November 2008 and began working in the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section. In 2009, Jonathan left to work in the White House. He returned to our Office in August, 2010 and resumed his work in the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section. He is currently serving in the Felony Unit of the General Crimes Section.
  • Peter Lallas — Peter graduated from New York University School of Law in 2004. There, he was a finalist in
    the Marden Moot Court Competition and participated in the federal defender clinic. After law school, Peter joined Hogan & Hartson in D.C. While at Hogan, Peter also taught as an adjunct professor of law at American University, Washington College of Law in the fall 2007. In July 2010, Peter joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section. Peter has since moved to the Felony Unit of General Crimes Section, where he is currently serving.
  • Brandon Long — Brandon graduated cum laude from Duke University School of Law in 2005. After law school,
    he worked as an associate at King & Spalding here in Washington, where he specialized in corporate investigations and white-collar criminal litigation and represented indigent defendants in pro bono matters. In December, Brandon joined the Office and was assigned to the Appellate Division, where he is currently practicing.
  • Adrienne Moran — Adrienne graduated in the top 15% of her class from Howard University School of Law in 2008. Before law school, Adrienne attended the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she received a master’s degree. After law school, Adrienne worked as an associate at Alston & Bird, LLP in New York City. In December 2010, Adrienne joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section, where she is currently practicing.
  • Clayton H. O’Connor — Clayton graduated cum laude from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in 2005. He clerked for Judge H.F. Gierke on the Court of Appeals for the Armed
    Forces while in law school. After graduation, Clayton joined the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He served as a trial counsel and defense counsel and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. His last military assignment was as Senior Trial Counsel at Langley Air Force Base. In January 2011, Clayton joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section, where he continues to practice.
  • Kenechukwu Okocha — Kene graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2007. While in law school, he served as Executive Director of the Black Law Students Association and interned for a summer with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2008, Kene joined the Dane County District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney, where he worked for the last two years prior to joining our Office in January 2011. Kene is currently practicing in our Appellate Division.
  • Allen O’Rourke — Allen graduated from Harvard Law School in 2008. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Anita Brody in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and then for Judge Allyson Duncan on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Raleigh, North Carolina. In January 2011, Allen joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, where he is currently practicing.
  • James Petkun — James graduated magna cum laude from Villanova University School of Law in 2007. In law
    school, James was managing editor of Villanova Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Thereafter, James joined the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Philadelphia. In 2009, he served as a clerk for Judge Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In September 2010, James joined our Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, where he currently practices.
  • Wendy Pohlhaus — Wendy was awarded her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law in 1990. Following law school, Wendy worked in the Dade County Public Defender’s Office for a few years before joining the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Miami, Florida. In 1998, Wendy joined the Department of Justice as a trial attorney with the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and did a detail with our Office. In 2003, Wendy began her appointment as an Assistant United States Attorney in our Office and served with distinction in various sections in the Office, including the Felony Trial Section, the Felony Major Crimes Section, the Community Prosecution/Grand Jury Section and the Federal Major Crimes Section. In 2009, Wendy left the
    Office for another stint at the Department of Justice’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section. But fortunately for us, Wendy returned to the Office in March 2010. She is currently serving as the Executive Assistant United States Attorney for External Affairs.
  • Clare Pozos — Clare graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2007. While in law school, she interned with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Following law school, Clare clerked for Judge Michael Baylson in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. For the last three years prior to joining our Office, Clare worked as an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP here in Washington, where her practice focused on lobbying, ethics, and campaign finance laws. In November, 2010, Clare joined the Office and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, where she continues to practice.
  • Addy Schmidt — Addy graduated summa cum laude from American University Washington College of Law in
    2003. After law school, Addy joined the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where she worked until she began a clerkship with Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Thereafter, she returned to Dickstein Shapiro. In 2007, Addy became Judge Sullivan’s career law clerk and counsel, a position she held until joining our Office in January 2010. Addy is assigned to our Civil Division.
  • John Benjamin Schrader — Ben earned his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2009. Among his many law school activities, Ben was the Notes Development Editor for the Vanderbilt Law
    Review in his third year. While in law school, Ben was a summer intern in the Grand Jury Section of our Office. Following law school, Ben clerked for Judge Thomas A. Varlan of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Ben joined our Office in October 2010 and has been assigned to our Appellate Division since his start date.
  • Philip Selden — Phil received his Juris Doctor degree from the Columbia University School of Law in 2007.
    Among his many accomplishments in law school, he was named a Harlan Fisk Stone Scholar. He also worked a semester at the New York County District Attorney’s Office. After law school, Phil joined the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP. While there, Phil served as a volunteer firefighter. In March 2010, Phil joined our Office and was assigned to the Appellate Division. Since then, he has rotated into the Misdemeanor Unit of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section.
  • Jennifer Short — Jennifer graduated from University of Virginia School of Law in 1995. She was editor in chief
    of the Journal of Law & Politics in her third year. Following graduation, Jennifer clerked for United States District Court Judge James C. Turke in the Western District of Virginia. After her clerkship, Jennifer worked at Wiley, Rein & Felding in Washington, D.C. She then joined Holland & Knight, LLP as an associate and became a partner at the firm in 2003. In October 2010, Jennifer joined our Office and began working in our Civil Division.
  • Michael Spence — Michael graduated from New York University School of Law in 2003. While in law school, he worked in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. After graduation, Michael clerked for Judge Kessler on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He then worked as an associate at Arnold & Porter LLP and as a Counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, LLP, both here in Washington. Michael joined our Office in December 2010. He has served in the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section since his arrival.
  • Eric Zwicker — Eric graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2006. After law school, Eric served as
    Assistant Attorney General in Connecticut and founded an organization dedicated to bringing investment services to low-income Americans. Most recently, Eric worked as an associate at Wiggin & Dana LLP in New Haven, Connecticut, where his practice focused on government investigations and white-collar criminal litigation. Eric joined the Office in November 2010 and was assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit of the General Crimes Section, where he continues to serve.

This story has been corrected to reflect that 34 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, not 33, were sworn in and not all Assistant U.S. Attorneys are prosecutors.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., is reviewing 100 cases for potentially false and inaccurate tests by FBI analysts, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The cases date back to the mid-1970s, and the office has conducted a “preliminary review” of 78 of them, according to a report filed late Friday in D.C. Superior Court. The report stems from an internal investigation after the exoneration of Donald Gates, who was falsely imprisoned for the 1981 rape and slaying of a Georgetown University student. He was freed last December.

The review originally focused on 20 cases involving six FBI forensic analysts whose statements were called into question in a 1997 report by the department’s Office of Inspector General. In the course of the review, officials discovered an additional 100 cases on which the analysts worked.

Patricia Riley, a Special Counsel to Ronald Machen, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote that prosecutors had found no evidence of wrongful convictions, except in Gates’ case. Prosecutors have not submitted their findings in the remaining 22 cases.

“We intend to fully research the remainder of the cases to determine whether additional disclosures are required or appropriate,” Riley wrote in the report.

Sandra Levick, chief of the special litigation division for the Public Defenders Service, called the new report “troubling.”

“The government still does not know the number of people hurt by testimony from discredited FBI analysts, although it was given names beginning in 1997,” she said.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Lanny Breuer (doj)

A mistrial has been declared in the fraud and bribery trial of two American Samoa officials, according to The Blog of Legal Times.

Lt. Gov. Aitofele Sunia and American Samoa lawmaker Tini Lam Yuen, a senator in the territorial legislature, were charged with fraud and bribery.

The trial, before Judge Reggie Walton in federal court in the District of Columbia, began Jan. 12 and the jury had been deliberating for more than two weeks when it announced on Tuesday that it was deadlocked. Eleven of the jurors said they favored acquittal.

Federal prosecutors in the 2007 indictment of Sunia and Yuen allege that they used their political positions and relationships to secure contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars  for companies under their control, BLT reported. Under the contracts, the companies supplied classroom and library furniture to the American Samoa Department of Education.

Stephen Anthony (Covington & Burling LLP)

Stephen Anthony, a partner at Covington & Burling and a lead attorney for Sunia, told BLT the jury deliberated “carefully and thoroughly” in the case. He added, “It was clear the jury paid close attention to the evidence.” Sunia also was represented by Covington & Burling partner Emily Henn. Yuen was represented by Michele Peterson, an assistant federal public defender in Washington, D.C.

Emily Henn (Covington & Burling LLP)

When the indictment was issued, Lanny Breuer, then a partner at Covington & Burling,  was lead counsel for Sunia and appeared in court several times. He withdrew from the case in February 2009, a month after being nominated to head the criminal division at the Justice Department. He recused himself from participating in the prosecution of the case.

The case was prosecuted by DOJ trial attorneys Matthew Stennes and Kathryn Albrecht of the Public Integrity Section. They did not comment on whether DOJ plans to prosecute Sunia and Yuen again, BLT reports.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Ron Machen (DOJ)

Ronald Machen, the newly confirmed U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, took his oath of office Thursday evening in a private ceremony, a spokesman said.

Machen, a former partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, replaced Channing Phillips, now the office’s Principal Deputy, who had served as acting U.S. Attorney since May.

The Senate confirmed Machen by unanimous consent on Feb. 11. A former federal prosecutor in D.C., Machen returned to the nation’s largest U.S. Attorney’s office on Thursday, completed his paperwork, and later headed a few blocks south to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to take the oath.

Chief Judge Royce Lamberth, also a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C., administered the oath in his courtroom. A group of judges, supervisors in the U.S. Attorney’s office and Machen’s friends and family were on hand.

A second, larger swearing-in ceremony is in the works, though a date has not been announced. One likely guest of honor: Attorney General Eric Holder. The commute is a breeze, and Holder is a former U.S. Attorney in the District.

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Blackwater prosecutors Kenneth Kohl (left) and Jonathan Malis met in Baghdad in December 2008 with families of victims of the shooting. (Getty Images)

The Washington Post’s Del Quentin Wilber has a nice take-out on the saga of the government’s case against five former Blackwater guards, with an emphasis on the lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Kohl.

The case stems from a shooting in a crowded Baghdad traffic circle in 2007 that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. The incident inflamed anti-U.S sentiment in Iraq and fueled a debate here over the oversight of the private security firms in war zones. The former guards, who were escorting a convoy of U.S. diplomats, say they took fire and responded with appropriate force. Prosecutors say the guards fired without provocation.

Wilber pieces together the scene in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, as others have, and presents a fine summary of a federal judge’s ruling dismissing the indictment on the grounds that prosecutors used tainted evidence to build the case. (We’ve written about the opinion and the government’s subsequent appeal here and here.)

But much of the new material focuses on Kohl, a prosecutor in the National Security Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. The judge, Ricardo Urbina, scolded Kohl for disregarding the advice of a “taint” attorney, who was tapped to determine whether certain statements the guards gave to State Department investigators after the shootings could be used against them.

Kohl declined comment for Wilber’s story but wrote in an e-mailed statement, ”All of us who were involved in this case felt an obligation to the 34 victims who were killed or wounded at Nisour Square to do everything we could, within the bounds of the law, to bring this case to trial in an American courtroom.

“We don’t want federal prosecutors to flinch at taking on tough cases involving complex legal issues, and I worry that some of the reaction to the court’s ruling will have that effect.”

Kohl, 50, joined the department in 1985, after graduating from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. (He grew up in the Chicago area.) According to Wilber, the prosecutor was a fast riser who earned a reputation as an “aggressive and zealous advocate for victims.”

When Kohl was working homicides, he never lost a case, several of his colleagues told Wilber. His colleagues appeared equally impressed with his more recent work. Wilber reports:

In more recent years, he was assigned national security cases, including the years-long investigation into the anthrax attacks. In 2007, Kohl won a conviction against a Colombian rebel leader who took three Americans hostage. The man was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Alex Barbeito, an FBI agent who worked on that case, said Kohl was meticulous and brave. “He came down to Bogota several times, despite death threats to U.S. prosecutors,” Barbeito said. “To me, he’s exactly the type of prosecutor an agent wants to handle complex international criminal cases.”

Kohl visited Baghdad three times during his investigation of the Blackwater guards. On one trip, Wilber reports, he had to dive under the bunk of his trailer, located in the Green Zone, when the compound was hit by rockets and mortar shells.

“And yet he still went back,” a fellow prosecutor wrote in an e-mail. “It would take a lot for me to go back there” after that.

It’s also worth noting that while Urbina used strong language to criticize the prosecutors, in a separate ruling the judge said their conduct did not warrant cutting off the government’s ability to bring new charges.

“The court is not persuaded that the additional, extreme sanction of dismissal with prejudice is justified under these circumstances,” Urbina wrote.

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The White House and the Justice Department are vetting the head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Mary Patrice Brown, for a federal judgeship, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Brown, a well-regarded career prosecutor, is expected to secure a nomination to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, assuming she clears her FBI background check and American Bar Association review, the people said.

Brown was tapped to lead the Justice Department’s ethics unit in April, amid a high-profile probe of former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers whose legal opinions paved the way for waterboarding of terrorism detainees. Her office reportedly determined that the lawyers — John Yoo, now a law professor, and Jay Bybee, now a federal judge — violated professional standards in blessing some of the Bush administration’s most controversial national security policies.

The Justice Department official who oversees OPR in the Deputy Attorney General’s office, David Margolis, softened the report to say the lawyers were guilty of “poor judgment” but not of professional misconduct — a finding that would have warranted referrals to state bar associations, Newsweek reported.

The issue would almost certainly be raised in Brown’s Senate confirmation hearings. Many Republicans strongly oppose disciplining Yoo or Bybee for their work during the Bush administration in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, while many Democrats have called for them to account for approving an interrogation method that Attorney General Eric Holder and others have equated with torture.

Brown, just the third OPR counsel since the office was created in 1975, came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she was chief of the Criminal Division. The Justice Department announced the move the day after a federal judge criticized OPR for dragging its feet in an investigation of possible misconduct in the botched prosecution of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. The events were unrelated.

The judge, Emmet Sullivan, took the extraordinary step of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate government lawyers for possible criminal contempt. Sullivan’s actions also set in motion a series of reforms designed to ensure that prosecutors meet their obligations to turn over evidence to defendants. (Brown would be Sullivan’s colleague on D.C.’s federal trial court, among the most prestigious in the country.)

The OPR investigations of the Stevens prosecutors and of the former OLC lawyers elevated the profile of Brown’s office. Rarely do OPR findings see the light of day, much less become the subject of congressional inquiries, as the OLC probe has. As a result, the office has received more complaints, Brown has said.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sent Brown’s name to the White House, along with eight others, for three vacancies on the court. (The names were generated by Norton’s nominating commission, the same group that interviewed candidates for U.S. Attorney in the District.) The White House appears to have pared the list down to three names, and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy has been assisting with the vetting since December, the people said.

The lawyers being considered for the other two vacancies are Venable LLP partner Robert Wilkins, former special litigation chief for the D.C. Public Defender Service, and D.C. Superior Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in District before his confirmation in 2002, the people said.

Brown could not be reached for comment. Wilkins and Boasberg declined to comment.

The court has a fourth vacancy as of late December, when U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman took senior status. It’s unclear whether the White House will select a nominee from Norton’s list, ask for more names or conduct its own search.

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Roscoe Howard Jr., the District’s U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2004, has joined Andrews Kurth’s Washington office, as a partner in the the corporate compliance, investigations and defense practice group, the firm announced.

Howard (Brown, UVa) was most recently a partner in Troutman Sanders’ Washington office, where he specialized in white-collar criminal defense. He was a federal prosecutor in Washington and Virginia before taking the top job in the country’s largest U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to his work at the Justice Department, Howard was an associate independent counsel in the investigations of former Secretary of Agriculture, A. Michael Espy, and former Secretary of H.U.D., Samuel Pierce.

Howard was rated by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s “Top Lawyers” in 2009.

The firm also added Daniel Seikaly, former criminal chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  Seikaly, who also came over from Troutman, joined the firm’s corporate compliance, investigations and defense practice group as counsel. Earlier in his career, he was an Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the CIA and an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department.

Seikaly and Howard will be the firm’s D.C. presence in white-collar criminal matters, corporate compliance, ethics issues, internal investigations and complex civil litigation.

“Few attorneys in the country can match the white-collar and complex civil litigation experience and expertise possessed by Roscoe and Dan,” said Dallas-based partner Spencer Barasch, head of the firm’s CCID practice, in statement.

The firm also announced that Meena Sinfelt joined the D.C. office as an associate.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

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.

Andre Birotte Jr. (gov)

Ron Machen (Wilmer Hale)

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.

Dawn Johnsen (Indiana University)

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.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Joshua Berman, a former federal prosecutor and candidate for U.S. Attorney in Detroit, has joined the Washington office of Katten Muchin Rosenman as a partner in the litigation and dispute practice, the firm announced.

Berman, who spent seven years as a prosecutor based in New York and Washington, was most recently head of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal’s Washington-based litigation practice and co-chairman of its white-collar and government investigations practice.

Since leaving the Justice Department  in 2004, Berman has represented several clients in high-profile corruption matters, including two figures in the sweeping influence-peddling investigation centered on Jack Abramoff and his associates.

One of his clients, Robert Coughlin, a former deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison, was sentenced in November to 30 days in a halfway house for accepting about $5,000 in meals, drinks and tickets from an Abramoff lobbyist.

Another client, Kevin Koonce, a former aide to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), was cleared of wrongdoing and recently filed a complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, alleging prosecutorial abuse.

Berman (Cornell, Michigan Law) was a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section from 2002 to 2004. Before moving to Washington, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York’s Southern District.

Last fall, a Justice Department official told Main Justice that Berman was among the finalists for the nomination to be U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan, but President Barack Obama ultimately nominated then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade for the position. She was confirmed last month.

Katten Muchin Rosenman also welcomed Glen Donath, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. office’s Fraud and Public Corruption Section. Donath, who also came from Sonnenschein, represented Koonce along with Berman.

Donath (Yale, University of Chicago Law) also has represented health care providers, financial institutions, investment funds, insurance companies and other corporations in complex civil and criminal proceedings.

Also joining Berman and Donath at Katten is Howard Rubin, a health care and appellate specialist. He was previously national chairman of Sonnenschein’s appellate practice.

“We are thrilled to be joining Katten’s vibrant national litigation, health care and white collar and government investigations practices,” Berman said.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Ron Machen (Wilmer Hale)

President Barack Obama has nominated criminal defense attorney Ron Machen to be U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, according to a Justice Department official.

The nomination was sent to the Senate late Wednesday and will be announced on Thursday, an administration official said.

Machen, 40, is a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where he specializes in complex civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense and internal corporate investigations. He was among three candidates Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton submitted to the White House for the post in August.

Machen’s nomination had been expected for some time. He was interviewed at the Justice Department in late October. The other finalists were Anjali Chaturvedi, a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP; and Michael Bromwich, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

An Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1997 to 2001, Machen (Stanford, Harvard Law) worked in the office’s Fraud and Public Corruption and Homicide sections. At Wilmer, he has represented Boeing Co., CitiGroup Inc., and Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.).

The District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, the largest in the nation with about 340 prosecutors, handles local and federal criminal cases. The office is currently overseen by acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips. Phillips, a career prosecutor, had been the office’s Principal Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney since 2004.