Foley Adds Former US Congressman Michael Capuano in Boston

Foley & Lardner LLP announced former U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano has joined the firm’s Government Solutions Practice as a public affairs director, splitting his time between the firm’s Boston and Washington D.C. offices.

He joins Foley’s team of former congressmen, which includes public affairs directors Dennis Cardoza and Scott Klug, both previously members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Capuano served as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District from 1999 to 2019. He was a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Financial Services Committee, and chair of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement.

Prior to his congressional career, Capuano was the mayor of Somerville, MA from 1990 to 1999.



Border Wall Needs Private Property. But Some Texans Won’t Give Up Their Land Without a Fight.

Government lawyers have taken the first step in trying to seize private property using the power of eminent domain to build a border wall — a contentious step that could put a lengthy legal wrinkle into President Trump’s plans to build hundreds of miles of wall, reports The Washington Post.

Previous eminent domain attempts along the Texas border have led to more than a decade of court battles, some of which date to George W. Bush’s administration and have yet to be resolved, according to the Post‘s Katie Zezima and Mark Berman. Many landowners are vowing to fight anew.

The reporters quoted Gerald S. Dickinson, an assistant professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, who said this newest fight will be different because the earlier effort mostly included federal government land.

“If it’s going to be a contiguous wall across the entire southwest border, you’re talking about a massive land seizure of private property,” he said.

Read the Post article.



In 8-Month Tenure, Non-Elected NY AG Was Leading Trump Antagonist

Barbara Underwood was an apolitical force in New York, quietly serving as solicitor general before getting an unexpected promotion to become the state’s first female attorney general, writes the Associated Press.

In her eight months in the AG’s role, she sued to put President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation out of business, accusing him of running it as a wing of his private businesses and political campaign. She also used the courts to challenge his administration on a multitude of policy fronts, including opposing its push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Underwood was appointed attorney general by the state legislature in May after the surprise resignation of Eric Schneiderman, explains AP’s Michael R. Sisak.

Now she’s going back to the solicitor general’s office, but Trump still faces challenges from New York, from the new AG, Letitia James.

Read the AP article.



Morrison & Foerster Will Eat $16M in Fees, Costs Pursuing Vets’ Claims

The law firm that spent nine years fighting and winning health care for veterans subjected to government-administered human testing of chemicals including sarin, mustard gas, and LSD was awarded $3.4 million in fees, a small fraction of the value of the hours the firm said it put into the case.

Bloomberg Law reports that Morrison & Foerster LLP accepted a fee award from the U.S. Army that’s $16 million less than the fee the firm could have sought.

“The fee award is the latest and nearly last chapter in the litigation by soldiers subjected to the government’s decades-long human testing program who were seeking recognition and health care above what they could get at the Veterans Administration for injuries they suffered,” writes Bloomberg’s Joyce Cutler.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.




Inside the Private Justice Department Meeting That Could Lead to New Investigations of Tech Giants

The Washington Post reports on a meeting of the country’s top federal and state law enforcement officials on Tuesday that could presage sweeping new investigations of Amazon, Facebook, Google and their tech industry peers.

Participants voiced lingering frustrations that these companies are too big, fail to safeguard users’ private data and don’t cooperate with legal demands.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened the meeting by raising questions of possible ideological bias among the tech companies and sought to bring the conversation back to that topic at least twice more, according to D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine,” according to reporters Brian Fung and Tony Romm.

But other participants steered the conversation toward the privacy practices of Silicon Valley.

Read the Washington Post article.



NDAs: Confidentiality and Context in the Workplace

The battle between the White House and Omarosa Manigault over the scope of her disclosures brings the issue of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), and their efficacy and enforceability to the forefront, points out a blog post for Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.

“Employers frequently seek to use NDAs as a sword once the employment relationship is broken or a termination takes place,” writes Dove A.E. Burns. “However, employers often require such agreements in order to broadly limit disclosure far beyond what is legally enforceable. Reaching in this manner can lead to legal liability, nullification and an ethical quagmire.”

Her article discusses the law regarding NDAs for government employees and for non=government employees.

Read the article.



Democrats’ Long-Shot Plan to Stop Trump’s Supreme Court Pick

The Los Angeles Times reports that Democrats, though narrowly outnumbered in the Senate, are embarking on a Hail Mary campaign to block President Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reporter Sarah D. Wire explains: “Flipping a moderate Republican is probably their only hope. And that only works if they can keep Democrats who represent red states that Trump won from breaking ranks.”

Democrats are planning to stress Trump’s repeated promises to only appoint justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Wire quotes Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary, who now runs the liberal advocacy group Demand Justice: “While these litmus-test-style commitments may have been politically sensible for Donald Trump at the time when he was running in the campaign in 2016, we believe they will come back to haunt his nominee in this summer’s confirmation battle.”

Read the LA Times article.



Government Disclosures Shed Light on Big Law Salaries

Banking - investing - money - advisorsLaw firm partnerships fiercely guard against disclosing what they pay their principals, points out Bloomberg Law. But partners must disclose compensation when opting for a government appointment.

“Top partners at major law firms can earn between $3 million to $10 million, according to compensation experts, while even career government lawyers with long service records rarely make more than $250,000,” writes reporter Elizabeth Olson.

As an example, the article reports that Dan M. Berkovitz, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Door, listed $1.18 million in partnership income for 2017 and a few months of 2018. Berkovitz was recently appointed one of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s commissioners.

And Robert Khuzami created waves a few months ago when he disclosed $11.1 million in partnership income over about a year’s period as a partner in Kirkland & Ellis’s white-collar practice. He is a deputy attorney general in the Southern District of New York.

Read the Bloomberg article.




Could the Sports Gambling Ruling Pave the Way for Other Legal Battles?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court played the right card for sports gamblers as it ruled that a federal gambling statute known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act violated the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, also called the commandeering clause. As explained in a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing, the decision gives states the authority to pass their own laws with regard to sports betting.

So what does the ruling mean for the future? Constitutional law attorney David Coale places his bet.

“There will be a lot of issues about the intellectual property of sports leagues and teams,” said Coale of the Dallas law firm Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst. “For example, a gambling company will naturally want to put the Cowboys logo in its ads; the Cowboys will want to stop that without control over the conditions of use and payment of a proper fee.”



Giuliani’s Confusing Media Statements May Hurt His Business

The Associated Press is reporting that lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s decision to join President Donald Trump’s legal team could backfire on the former New York mayor if potential clients of his international consulting business view him as too erratic and go elsewhere for representation, according to legal experts.

Reporter Richard Lardner quotes Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis: “Giuliani’s television appearances do not inspire confidence in his ability as a lawyer or as a public relations professional.”  She said she could understand why the powerhouse law firm Greenberg Traurig, where Giuliani worked until last week, “would want to distance itself” from Giuliani’s on-air performance.

Norm Eisen, who chairs the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, commented: “It could be good for Giuliani’s consulting and legal work if he were doing a better job. But no clients are going to be won over by the fact that he’s implicated Trump.”

Read the AP article.



Judge to Trump Firms: Save Records for AGs’ Emoluments Lawsuit

Twenty-three Trump businesses including his Mar-a-Lago Club must retain records after they receive subpoenas from the attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia as part of a lawsuit accusing the president of profiting from his office, Bloomberg reports.

A U.S. district judge granted the Democratic officials’ request to serve so-called preservation subpoenas, which require the businesses to retain documents but not to immediately produce them, accordingn to reporter Andrew W. Harris.

The AGs claim that the president’s continued ownership of his business empire allows him to make money from foreign and domestic governments.

Read the Bloomberg article.



Trump’s Legal Team Isn’t Playing Well Together

Tensions have been building since lawyer Ty Cobb joined the White House legal team last summer to deal with the Russia investigation, reports Bloomberg Law.

At first, the cracks in the team showed up when Cobb tried to use some lawyers from the staff of White House counsel Donald McGahn. McGahn didn’t cooperate with that plan, so Cobb had to build a team from scratch, report Tom Schoenbert and Shannon Pettypiece.

“While Cobb seeks to have the probe resolved as quickly as possible, McGahn wants to cooperate with Mueller while ensuring that decisions made now don’t box in Trump down the road or bind future presidents, says a person familiar with the investigation. McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, says his client hasn’t tried in any way to block Cobb’s efforts,” the reporters write.

Read the Bloomberg article.


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What Every In-House Attorney Needs to Know About Federal Contracting

Centre Law & Consulting will present a one-day instruction that combines the basics of federal government contracting with the nuts and bolts of compliance issues, subcontractor issues, and hot topics in the industry.

The event will be Oct. 17, 2017, in Tysons, Va.

Topics will include:

  • Basic Principles in Federal Contracting
  • How the Government Buys
  • Types of Contracts
  • Labor and Employment Law Issues
  • Anti-Kick Back and Gifts
  • Organizational Conflict of Interest & Personal Conflict of Interest
  • Mandatory Disclosure and Ethics Issues
  • Changes, Inspection & Acceptance
  • Delays & Payment
  • Termination of Convenience / Termination of Default
  • Claims, Disputes, and Appeals
  • Prime/Subcontractor Disputes
  • Bid Protests
  • Privilege Issues and Attorney Work Product
  • Ethic Issues in Internal Investigators and Managing Relator Lawsuits

Register for the event.



Big New York Law Firm Faces Questions on Work With Manafort

The Justice Department recently asked law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for information and documents related to its work on behalf of a client of Paul Manafort, reports The New York Times.

That client, Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, needed some cover to justify the jailing of a political rival, according to reporters Kenneth P. Vogel and Andrew E. Kramer.

They explain:

The request comes at a time when Mr. Manafort, his work for Mr. Yanukovych’s party and for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs as well as the handling of payments for that work have become focal points in the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and connections between Russia, Mr. Trump and his associates.

Read the NYT article.


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‘No One’s Minion’ – Colleague Says Steady Hand, Moral Compass Mark FBI Nominee’s Career

President Trump’s pick to replace fired FBI Director James Comey goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. While committee members are preparing a full day of tough questioning to reveal Christopher Wray’s character and positions on law enforcement, former high level Justice Department lawyer Bill Mateja says his former colleague is ideally suited to weather the turbulent and politically charged approval process, according to a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.

“Chris Wray’s appointment should sail through with flying colors,” said Mateja, now a shareholder in Dallas-based Polsinelli P.C. and former Senior Counsel to U.S. Deputy Attorneys General Larry Thompson and James Comey in Washington, D.C., where he also served as point person for the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force. “He’s a superb and qualified candidate to run the FBI. He has a great moral compass and he’s no one’s minion. He has the experience, the smarts and the gravitas.

“He’s an odd choice in a way for President Trump because he has worked with and is cut from the same cloth as Jim Comey, who Trump fired as FBI director, and special counsel Robert Mueller, who Trump has attacked. All three strive to do the right thing. The public can rest easy that Chris will not be a lackey for Trump.

“Chris is a Republican but he doesn’t wear his politics on his sleeve. He keeps things close to his vest. He isn’t as colorful as Jim Comey. He takes a conservative approach. It’s not his nature to comment publicly if it can be avoided.”


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House Reaches Accord on Spending and Tax Cuts

U.S. House of Representatives Republican and Democratic negotiators reached a deal late Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill and a huge package of tax breaks, reports The New York Times.

“Legislative drafters, racing a midnight deadline, met the time limit for issuing the tax package but apparently missed it for the spending bill. That could push back a vote on the House floor by one day, until Friday,” according to the report.

“Since the Republicans took back control of the House in 2011, a majority in the party has routinely opposed compromise budget and spending measures, forcing party leaders to rely on Democrats for votes to clear the bills. All signs indicate that the same dynamic is playing out now.”

Read the report.