Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, February 2009

By Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer

Justice Department’s O’Sullivan Selected 2009 Rosenberg Honoree
The D.C. Bar has chosen Catherine G. O’Sullivan, chief of the Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division, as this year’s recipient of the Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service.

The award, which will be presented March 30 at the 2009 D.C. Bar Conference, recognizes a member of the Bar who personifies excellence in government service.

Catherine G. O'Sullivan. Courtesy of Department of Justice“Representing the United States is an honor and a privilege, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with so many outstanding government lawyers over the years. I am deeply honored to receive an award named for Beatrice Rosenberg, who exemplified the highest traditions of government legal service,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan began her career with DOJ in 1975 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program after graduating from Harvard Law School. She was promoted to assistant chief in the Evaluation (now Legal Policy) Section in 1979, and then chief of the appellate section in 1984.

O’Sullivan also is a senior staff member at the Office of the Assistant Attorney General and chair of the Antitrust Division’s Hiring Committee for the Attorney General’s Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program.

Outside of work, O’Sullivan has volunteered with D.C. Public Schools in various capacities, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, and the Emmaus Services for the Aging where she was a member of the board for 20 years.

In addition, O’Sullivan taught Sunday school and served on a variety of governing committees at the Foundry United Methodist Church. She continues to be active in the church as member of the Lay Visitation Committee and as resource manager for social concerns activities.

In keeping with the exceptional accomplishments of Ms. Rosenberg, nominees demonstrate outstanding professional judgment throughout long-term government careers, work intentionally to share their expertise as a mentor to younger government lawyers, and devote significant personal energies to public or community service.—K.A.

Bar Seeks Nominations for 2009 Awards Ceremony
The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations for outstanding projects and contributions by Bar members to be recognized June 25 at the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.

The Bar’s highest honor is the William J. Brennan Jr. Award presented to a member who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in the pursuit of equal justice and equal opportunity for all Americans. The Bar also will present the Frederick B. Abramson Award, which recognizes extraordinary service to the profession.

Other awards to be presented will be: Best Bar Project, Best Section Community Outreach Project, Best Section, Pro Bono Lawyer Award, and two Pro Bono Law Firm Awards—one for small firms (2-50 lawyers) and one for large firms (51 lawyers or more).

Award nominations must be submitted by April 2 to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Executive Director, District of Columbia Bar, 1250 H Street NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-5937, or online at www.dcbar.org/awards.

A Night With Honorees
Carolyn B. Lamm. Photo by Donald TanguilingCarolyn B. Lamm, a partner at White & Chase LLP, accepts the Lawyer of the Year Award from the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) during its 137th Annual Banquet on December 6 at the Italian Embassy. Lamm is a former D.C. Bar president and president-elect of the American Bar Association. The evening’s judicial honoree was Paul R. Michel, chief circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The BADC also honored Lawrence E. Carr Jr. of Carr Maloney P.C. with the President’s Special Recognition Award; Thomas R. Bundy III, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, Young Lawyer of the Year Award; John A. Payton Jr., director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Annice M. Wagner Pioneer Award; and the law department of Sodexo, Inc., Constance L. Belfiore Quality of Life Award.—K.A.

D.C. Superior Court Appoints 13 to Duty Attorney Panel
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia has appointed 13 lawyers to the Duty Attorney Panel, effective January 1, to assist unrepresented defendants in certain misdemeanor and traffic cases.

Based upon the recommendations of the Advisory Committee for the Selection of Duty Attorneys, the following will serve on the panel: Robert Athanas, Louis Barnett, Alicia Barsoumian, Bryan Bookhard, Anthony Cade, Robert Hollander, Stephen Jackson, Kay Ogilvie, Chidi A. Ogolo, Chiemeka C. Opaigbeogu, Sean Riley, Manuel Rivera, and Charles Wall.

The court created the panel in 2002 to be responsible for advising and representing all defendants who have not retained counsel at initial court hearings in District of Columbia, traffic, and community court cases.

Duty attorneys provide defendants with legal advice concerning acceptance or rejection of a diversion offer, a post and forfeit option, a plea offer, or whether the case should be scheduled for trial, among other things.

To be considered for the panel, an attorney must be a member of the District of Columbia and Traffic D.C. Panel, a member of the D.C. Bar in good standing, and have an office within the Washington metropolitan area. Duty attorneys also must commit to eight hours of mandatory continuing legal education each year and comply with Superior Court Administrative Order 02-33 pertaining to continuing legal education requirements, as well as commit to complying with Administrative Order 4-29, which sets an annual cap for attorney compensation for appointed representation.—K.A.

BPR Requests Volunteers for Hearing Committees
The Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) is seeking volunteers for its Hearing Committees. The committees hear lawyer discipline cases and draft reports with findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended sanctions.

Hearing Committee members, composed of D.C. Bar members and members of the public, are appointed periodically by the BPR and are eligible to serve two consecutive three-year terms.

Interested parties should submit a cover letter and résumé to Elizabeth J. Branda, Executive Attorney, Board on Professional Responsibility, 515 5th Street NW, Room 102, Washington, DC 20001. For more information, call 202-638-4290.

UDC Law School Dean Broderick Receives Rhode Award
Katherine “Shelley” Broderick, dean of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL), received the 2009 Deborah L. Rhode Award from the Association of American Law Schools’ (AALS) Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities Section in January.

The award, presented during the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, recognized Broderick’s leadership abilities as law school dean and as an initiator and catalyst for public interest law in the greater community.

Under Broderick’s leadership, UDC-DCSL has become one of the most diverse law schools in the nation. In the past two years its faculty and students provided 85,000 hours of legal services to District residents through clinical programs and community service. The school received full accreditation from the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in 2005.

The AALS is an association of 170 law schools that serves to improve the legal profession through legal education. It is legal education’s principal representative to the federal government and to other national higher education organizations and learned societies.—K.A.

National Journal Group Forum Previews Obama’s First 100 Days
The National Journal Group hosted a breakfast program on December 9, featuring representatives from various sectors of the Democratic Party who offered their forecast on President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office.

Robert Borosage. Courtesy of The Campaign for America's futureThe panel of speakers included Matt Bennett, vice president for public affairs at Third Way, a group that works with centrist Democratic senators; Robert L. Borosage, codirector of Campaign for America’s Future; Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill; and Debbie Sease, national campaign director for the Sierra Club.

“This election went on for so long and was so compelling and gripping that it’s hard to believe it’s over,” began moderator Ronald Brownstein, a former political reporter for the Los Angeles Times and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who is now political director for the Atlantic Media Company. He jokingly asked for a show of hands to see “how many people are still going online every morning to check the tracking polls.”

Brownstein first introduced McCaskill, whom he described as being right at the “nexus of congressional Democrats and the Obama campaign.”

Brownstein and McCaskill said recent Cabinet appointments seem to indicate that Obama is comfortable working with people who were not part of his campaign and that he may not know personally.

“Résumés matter in this administration,” McCaskill said. “The heft of your résumé is incredibly important … not just who you know.” Obama has made very few purely “political appointments,” which “bodes well for the really complicated challenges that we need to get to go on,” she added.

While there have been some concerns about the appointments, the panelists agreed that Obama’s actions in the period between his election and inauguration have been consistent with statements made during the campaign.

“There isn’t a progressive among the leading appointments,” Borosage said. “If you look at the foreign policy team of Hillary [Clinton], [Robert] Gates, and [James] Jones, it’s not clear where …any progressive perspective comes from in that team.”

Obama picked Jones, a retired Marine general, as National Security Adviser, and appointed Clinton and Gates as Secretary of State and Defense Secretary, respectively.

However, Borosage said Obama’s statements of intent—policy-wise—have been “music to our words.” He characterized the upcoming stimulus package with its infrastructure improvement component as “everything a progressive could want.”

On the other hand, Sease said Obama made it very clear that he has a strong energy policy and that he understands the need to deal with climate change. Sease said her organization is heartened by Obama’s statement that there are areas of convergence between the need for economic policy and energy policy.

In terms of potential conflicts between the left and center in the Democratic coalition, Bennett said there are fewer than in the past. “I think, as Bob points out, we’re all nationalists now. I mean when you have the Bush administration nationalizing the financial services industry, things have changed dramatically in the last three months and everyone agrees… that huge public investment is absolutely vital or else the economy is going to collapse. So the distinctions substantively between left and center in the progressive movement have blurred to a great extent on the economy for now.”

While the speakers agreed that Obama’s first two years in office will be judged primarily on how he would have improved the economy, they did not believe the president would abandon his other priorities, but will look for places to advance multiple agendas simultaneously. McCaskill said some of the larger policy moves may have to wait until the economy is on stronger footing, but stressed that she was speaking for herself and not the Obama administration.

“It would be foolish to think that as this administration moves forward on any policy, whether it’s health care, energy, or climate, that they are not looking at it through the lens of the economy,” Sease said. “Now I actually believe that that presents a huge opportunity for an environmental agenda. We have struggled for decades with the notion that you have to choose between a strong economy and a strong environment. And right now the things that we could do to stimulate the economy and address climate change are in fact some of the same things that address each of them.”

The forum, which ran from 8 to 9:30 a.m., was held at the Columbus Club at Union Station.—S.S.

Sections Office Courts Volunteers for Science and Youth Law Fairs
The D.C. Bar Sections Office is seeking volunteers for the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School Science Fair in February and the 2009 Youth Law Fair in March.

Volunteer judges are needed for the science fair, an annual event which the D.C. Bar Intellectual Property Section has been sponsoring since 1996. The fair will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on February 26 at Banneker High School, 800 Euclid Street NW. Banneker is a magnet school for students with a particular interest in math, science, and technology.

Despite the subject matter, volunteers do not need a science degree or background to serve as judges. Volunteers will attend a pre-fair briefing before judging the students’ science projects, divided into 12 categories. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Meanwhile, the Youth Law Fair returns from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on March 7 at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue NW. Now in its 10th year, the event is sponsored by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Bar Litigation Section, and cosponsored by various other D.C. Bar sections.

This year’s fair will focus on how teens communicate through music, the Internet, and text messaging. With the theme “OMG!! Can U Say That? IDK,” the fair will look at the challenges posed by teens going online or using text messaging to spread rumors, incite violent acts, engage in cyberbullying, and solicit gang affiliation, and how the First Amendment factors into the use of this media.

To volunteer for either of these events or for more information, contact Twanda Washington at 202-626-3463 or outreach@dcbar.org.

U.S. District Court Seeks Nominees for Gribbon Pro Bono Award
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia is seeking nominations for the fourth annual Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award. The nominations process opened on January 12.

Nominees may either be individuals or firms that have demonstrated distinguished advocacy before the district court in a pro bono matter concluded between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008. Interested parties may nominate themselves, and non–winning nominees from previous years can resubmit their applications if they meet the criteria.

Nominations should be in writing—up to six pages long—consisting of a maximum two-page description of the pro bono matter as well as letters of support. Nominees should not attach pleadings or court filings. Descriptions will be accepted through noon on March 16, while supporting letters must be received by noon on March 30.

Nomination materials may be e-mailed to Scott A. Memmott, member of the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, at smemmott@sonnenschein.com. Nominees also may submit the original plus 10 copies of their documents to: Scott A. Memmott, Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal LLP, 1301 K Street NW, Suite 600, East Tower, Washington, DC 20005.

For additional inquiries, contact Memmott at 202-408-9169 or at the e-mail address listed above.—K.A and S.S.

Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.

D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.

New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60-day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar administratively suspends individuals who have not attended and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.

Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated, one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.

The preregistration fee $219; on-site fee is $279. The next course dates are February 10, March 7, April 7, May 2, June 9, July 11, August 11, September 12, October 6, November 7, and December 8. Advanced registration is encouraged.

For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/membership/mandatory-course.

Star-Studded Honors
Danny Glover, Rep. John Conyers Jr., Jack Olender. Photo by Marshall CohenActor Danny Glover (left) presents the Advocate for Justice Award to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D–Mi.) at the 23rd Annual Olender Foundation Awards on December 9 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Conyers (middle), who chairs the House Committee on the Judiciary, was honored for his efforts in championing civil rights and universal health care. Joining them is foundation president Jack Olender. Other honorees included neurosurgeon Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, America’s Role Model Award; Iraqi war veteran Corporal Wesley Leon-Barrientos, Unsung Hero Award; and Edward and Patricia Leahy, whose endowment in honor of their late son promotes research and care for people with disabilities, Generous Heart Award.—K.A.

Bar Publishes 17th Edition of D.C. Practice Manual
The 17th edition of The District of Columbia Practice Manual is available for purchase for $240.

This two-volume manual is an important resource that, in an easy-to-use format, provides information on the basics of practicing law in the District of Columbia and includes citations to key statutes, regulations, court rules, and cases, as well as relevant forms.

The 17th edition includes 21 revised chapters covering a range of topics: alternative dispute resolution, antitrust, appellate practice in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, art, child abuse and neglect, consumer protection, corporate practice, domestic relations, environment, finding the law in the District of Columbia, Health Maintenance Organization Act, human rights, juvenile, landlord and tenant, legal ethics and attorney discipline, mental health proceedings, partnerships, real property, Superior Court civil practice, U.S. District Court practice, and zoning and historic preservation.

To purchase the 17th edition of The District of Columbia Practice Manual, call 202-737-4700, ext. 268, or visit www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/publications.

Bar Sections Announce Steering Committee Openings The D.C. Bar Sections are seeking nominations to Steering Committee positions for all 21 sections. Section members wishing to be considered should submit a Candidate Interest Form and résumé to the Sections Office by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on February 6. Interest forms were mailed and also are available online.

Steering Committee vacancies are for three-year terms. Each section has two or three available positions. The complete list of vacancies can be found at www.dcbar.org/sections.

The Sections’ Nominating Committees will review all Candidate Interest Forms to find the best qualified, diverse candidates. Two to three candidates will be nominated for each position. Previous leadership experience with voluntary bar associations or with the Bar’s sections is highly desirable.

The elections will take place in the spring of 2009, and the results will be announced in June. The winning candidates will assume their new Steering Committee roles on July 1.

For more information about the elections, visit www.dcbar.org/sections/elections/index.cfm

House Global Warming Committee Holds Hearing on Auto Bailout Plan
With the $14 billion bailout package for automakers awaiting its fate in the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing on December 9 to help determine the impact of the proposed emergency aid on efforts to end America’s reliance on fuel imports.

Joan Claybrook. Courtesy of Public CitizenThe hearing, which took place at 10 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, called as witnesses Joan Claybrook, former president of consumer advocacy group Public Citizen; Richard Curless, chief technical officer of Michigan-based MAG Industrial Automation Systems; Peter Morici, professor at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business; Reuben Munger, chair and cofounder of Bright Automotive; and Geoff Wardle, Advanced Mobility Research director at the Art Center College of Design.

Committee chair Rep. Edward Markey (D–Ma.) recalled how, few weeks earlier, the country’s Big Three—Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation—came before Congress for help and left empty-handed, dogged by stories about the skimpiness of their business plans and the inappropriateness of their mode of travel.

“The same companies that fought seat belt requirements in the 1960s, air bags in the ’80s, and fuel economy for more than three decades have returned, hat in hand, unable to survive the month without a taxpayer intervention,” Markey said. “Once untouchable symbols of American industrial might and ingenuity, it has become clear the Detroit Three have ceded leadership to the innovators and are now running in fear.”

Claybrook, who has worked on auto safety and fuel economy issues for more than 40 years, challenged the auto industry to seize the opportunity to “make philosophical changes in how it approaches the business of building cars.”

“The industry has tried to make the case that the problems it faces today are a result only of the credit crisis,” she said. However, Claybrook said domestic automakers have been in trouble for several years, starting with the oil price spikes in 2005 and followed by unprecedented increases in the summer of 2008.

Rising oil costs led Americans to demand for more fuel efficient vehicles instead of sport utility vehicles and light trucks around which U.S. auto manufacturers built their companies for more than a decade. “The domestic industry has fought against increased fuel economy for three decades,” added Claybrook, who submitted to the committee a list of Detroit Three’s “broken promises.”

“The financial problems facing domestic manufacturers are largely a result of their failure to adapt to a changing market, their risky reliance on gas guzzling vehicles, and failure to invest in innovative safety, fuel economy, and emissions technologies until literally forced to do so by regulation or lack of sales,” she said.

Reuben Munger. Courtesy Bright AutomotiveMunger’s testimony, on the other hand, began with a discussion of his Indiana-based company, which he said is led by “executives and technologists from the automotive industry” and is developing a 100 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for mass production. Bright Automotive is aiming to roll off 50,000 units of this light truck vehicle by 2012, if funding is forthcoming.

His company’s efforts, Munger said, indicates that the 35 miles per gallon standard mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is not only reasonable to achieve but quite modest.

Other witnesses suggested attaching conditions to the federal bailout plan such as preventing automakers from using government funds or guarantees for lobbying and campaign contributions; prohibiting the use of borrowed taxpayers’ money to invest in foreign firms, domestic mergers, and acquisitions; requiring that bailout funds be granted senior debt status to ensure taxpayers are paid back first; requiring automakers to suspend litigation blocking states from setting greenhouse gas emissions standards; compelling the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to adopt a more realistic calculation for fuel economy as promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006; increasing safety requirements, including stronger rollover roof crush, ejection, and new child protection standards; and creating a think tank charged with conceptualizing an overarching transportation policy for the country.—S.S.

LAP Offers Hope in Dealing With Addiction, Mental Health Issues
Those in the legal profession are accustomed to everyday work-related stress, but combining that pressure with the recent holiday season and bleak economic forecasts can cause some people to experience problems that interfere with their professional or personal lives. That’s where the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) can help.

LAP is a free, voluntary, and confidential program for lawyers, judges, and law students who are struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, or stress.

“Dealing with stress and pressure in a healthy manner is something we all need to learn to do in today’s world. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and other addictive behaviors that give the illusion of stress relief and well-being typically come with a hefty price tag; unrelenting stress can also trigger clinical depression,” LAP Director Denise Perme says.

Perme says people should not wait until an addiction or mental health problem starts to affect their work or home life to seek help. She also stresses the importance of taking early action and calling LAP.

The program offers access to a licensed counselor, provides referrals, and even matches callers with a volunteer mentor who has gone through a similar struggle and has been successful in treating it and sustaining recovery.

For more information, call 202-347-3131, e-mail lap@dcbar.org, or visit www.dcbar.org/lap.

After all, the only thing one has to lose is the problem.—K.A.

Abramson Foundation Honors Fellowship Recipients
Frederick B. Abramson Memorial Foundation, supporters and the 2008 recipients. Photo by Rebecca Roth Photography D.C. Bar President Robert J. Spagnoletti, former attorney general for the District of Columbia, was the keynote speaker on November 5 at the Frederick B. Abramson Memorial Foundation’s 2008 Public Service Fellowship Reception.

Every year the Abramson Foundation awards up to $10,000 to one or more graduating law students, judicial law clerks, or practicing attorneys who want to work in public interest law.

In 2008 the foundation awarded $26,000 to fellows Marc Borbely of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Kaitlin Dunne of the American Civil Liberties Union–National Capital Area, Yaida Ford of Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Nassim Moshiree of The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Gabrielle Mulnick and Alyssa Patzoldt of the Children’s Law Center, and Wayne Turner of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice.

The Abramson Foundation is named after the late Frederick B. Abramson, a distinguished member of the D.C. legal community who served as Bar president from 1985 to 1986 and as bar counsel to the Board on Professional Responsibility of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The 2008 reception was held at Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th Street NW.

D.C. Bar staff writers Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer can be reached at kalfisi@dcbar.org and sstauffer@dcbar.org, respectively.