Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, January 2009

By Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer

Bar Accepting Résumés for 2009 Elections
The D.C. Bar is accepting résumés from members wishing to be candidates in the 2009 Bar elections. The deadline for receipt of résumés is January 12.

The D.C. Bar Nominations Committee is charged with nominating individuals for the positions of D.C. Bar president-elect, secretary, and treasurer; five members of the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors; and three vacancies in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates, including a vacancy in the under-35 seat. All candidates must be active members of the D.C. Bar, and all candidates for ABA House positions must also be ABA members.

Nominations may be submitted online at www.dcbar.org/inside_the_bar/ structure/nominations, or mailed to the D.C. Bar Nominations Committee, 1250 H Street NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-5937.

For more information, contact D.C. Bar Executive Director Katherine A. Mazzaferri at 202-737-4700, ext. 220, or executive.office@dcbar.org.—K.A.

Bar Sections Announce Steering Committee Openings
The D.C. Bar Sections are seeking Bar members interested in Steering Committee positions for all 21 sections. 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 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, 2009.

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

From left, Brigida Benitez, Hector E. Morales Jr., Christina Guerola Sarchio, Beatriz Otero, Raul R. Tapia, and Marlon Quintanilla Paz. Courtesy of fotobriseno.Celebrating Equality
Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA-DC) board member and WilmerHale LLP partner Brigida Benitez (left) poses with Hector E. Morales Jr., U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States; Christina Guerola Sarchio, a partner at Howrey LLP; Beatriz Otero, founder, president, and chief executive officer of child and family services organization CentroNía; Raul R. Tapia, managing director of C2 Group, LLC; and HBA-DC President-Elect Marlon Quintanilla Paz at the Equal Justice Awards Gala on November 18 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Tapia was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, while Guerola Sarchio and CentroNía received the 2008 Hugh A. Johnson Jr. Memorial Award. Morales gave the keynote address at the gala, which is held annually to recognize the notable contributions of Hispanics in the Washington metropolitan area.—K.A.

NLCHP Honors Advocates for Homeless at McKinney–Vento Awards
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) honored Quiznos Founder Rick E. Schaden and other advocates for the homeless at its 10th Annual McKinney–Vento Awards on November 6.

Schaden, along with his wife and father, helped develop and provided the initial funding for America’s Road Home, a nonprofit that works toward ending family homelessness by creating a sustainable, consumer revenue stream for service providers.

America’s Road Home Executive Director Tom Ryan accepted the Stewart B. McKinney Award on behalf of Schaden, who was attending a meeting outside the country.

Ryan said the topmost goal of America’s Road Home is to put a face on the issue of family homelessness and provide a friendly, modern way for everyday consumers to donate money to service providers.

“A little bit of money from [consumers] every day of every week will provide the caregivers who are taking families off the street with a tremendous amount of sustainable funding,” he said.

Five-term Illinois Representative Judy Biggert, a strong advocate for homeless children and their families, received the Bruce F. Vento Award.

Biggert’s accomplishments include writing the McKinney–Vento homeless education provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act, securing the enactment of the FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act, and leading an effort in Congress to expand the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homelessness.

“The good news is that our work to date has prevented so many homeless Americans from living on the street, kept homeless children in school and helped them obtain financial support for college, and our latest victory, with the Senate’s blessing, will help more homeless children and their families find a place to call home. The unfortunate news is that there are millions more homeless out there, so our work is by no means finished,” Biggert said.

Hogan & Hartson LLP was honored with the Pro Bono Counsel Award for providing NLCHP with pro bono legal services for almost 20 years. Most recently the firm helped prepare NLCHP’s Voter Registration and Voting: Ensuring the Voting Rights of Homeless Persons report, released in July 2008.

The NLCHP serves as the legal arm of the nationwide movement to end homelessness. It utilizes impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education to address homelessness at the local, state, and national levels.

The awards ceremony, held at Jones Day at 51 Louisiana Avenue NW, was attended by approximately 120 people. —K.A.

Superior Court Finalizes 16 Adoptions at National Event
Visiting dignitaries and numerous families filled the atrium of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse on November 15 to witness the adoption of 16 children during the 22nd Annual Adoption Day, a joint program of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).

Similar events were held throughout the country to celebrate National Adoption Day, which aims to bring more attention to the plight of children in foster care.

During the past year, 195 children—excluding those whose adoptions were finalized during the program—were formally adopted through the Superior Court, according to Presiding Family Court Judge Anita Josey-Herring. However, an estimated 200 children are awaiting adoption.

“It’s our job to raise public awareness about adoption and the need for children who are in foster care to get permanent homes,” she said.

Among those who spoke at the event were CFSA Interim Director Roque R. Gerald; motivational speaker LeCount R. Holmes Jr.; D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.); Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield; and D.C. Councilmember and Human Services Committee chair Tommy Wells.

Speakers such as Holmes and Landrieu had a personal experience with adoption and both are passionate about their desire to see more children placed in permanent, loving homes.

As she has since the first Adoption Day in Court program, Barbara Harrison, anchor for WRC-TV 4 news and host of “Wednesday’s Child,” acted as mistress of ceremonies and introduced every child and adoptive parent before they signed their adoption decrees.

“It’s one thing I truly look forward to each year, and I wouldn’t miss it,” Harrison said.—K.A.

Town Hall Meeting Reveals Safety Concerns for Residents in Southeast
An estimated 100 people, the majority of them Ward 7 and 8 residents in the District of Columbia, participated in a Town Hall Meeting on November 13 that sought to take the public’s pulse on crime and criminal justice issues.

The meeting, hosted by the D.C. Superior Court, D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (Ward 8), and the Metropolitan Police Department, Seventh District, featured an on-the-spot survey where participants were asked whether the police or the courts have been responsive to their needs. Attendees responded to a series of questions using a handheld clicker, similar to that being used in the television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, to provide quick and anonymous answers.

Cathy Lanier. Photo by Steven J. Stauffer.Among the officials in attendance were Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield, Superior Court Associate Judges Zoe Bush and Craig S. Iscoe, Magistrate Judge Michael J. McCarthy, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, and representatives from the mayor’s office and the District police department. The meeting was held at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, 2616 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

“This is my first town meeting as the chief judge of the Superior Court, but I’ve been on the bench for over 16 years,” Satterfield said. “And what I’ve learned since I’ve been a judge…is that we always have to look at one question [with regard to the community]: ‘How can we serve the community better?’

“I think that is important during times like this when we know that there are financial pressures with the city and, quite frankly, all over the country, that we work better as a team, as a community, to solve our problems…. So I want you to know that the court is here for that,” Satterfield added.

The survey, conducted by Dan Cipullo, director of the Superior Court Criminal Division, revealed high levels of safety and security concerns among respondents.

While about three-quarters of Ward 7 and 8 residents who participated in the survey felt safe in their homes, 71 percent said they did not feel safe walking the streets at night. Nearly half of those surveyed felt unsafe around their workplace and its environs at night, while 74 percent viewed retail areas and parks in those parts of the city unsafe during nighttime.

The respondents said street crimes, including drug dealing, shootings, loitering, and theft and vandalism of vehicles, are major problems where they live.

In a finding which ran counter to the court’s statistics, 80 percent of the respondents rated juvenile crime as a much bigger problem than adult crime.

“Interesting,” Cipullo said. “Because when we look at the numbers, adult crimes are…4, 5, 10 times higher than juvenile crimes.”

The D.C. court system’s public relations program could use some work, Cipullo conceded, when the survey revealed that 72 percent of the respondents were unaware of the existence of the East of the River Community Court.

Additionally, the majority of those present disagreed that the courts treated everyone with dignity and respect, treated people of all races and ethnic groups equally, and understood the strengths and weaknesses of the East of the River community.

But on a positive note, a majority of the attendees endorsed the community courts’ positions on providing drug counseling, mental health counseling, housing assistance, and community service rather than jail time for those convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses such as street prostitution, drug possession, disorderly conduct, and possession of alcohol in public.—S.S.

AU Lawyer Reentry Program Scores in First Semester
After graduating in 1993 from the University of Georgia School of Law, Kimberly Marshall clerked for a judge before moving on to litigation. After two years, she knew she wasn’t cut out for it.

“It just wasn’t as exciting as I thought it should be. The part you see on TV is about 2 percent of what you do; the rest is waiting around for something to happen,” Marshall said.

These days, as a legal services consultant who does business in the District of Columbia, Marshall enjoys her chosen field a lot more than her more traditional practice, but she still wants to explore some new avenues. That’s where American University Washington College of Law’s Lawyer Reentry Program comes in.

When one of Marshall’s clients told her about the school’s new, six-day program—one of only three such undertakings in the country—she decided to enroll and see if she could find new paths to explore. The program was useful in a number of ways, she said, reminding her and the other 24 returning lawyers of their own unique strengths.

“The class had people who had been counsel to presidents, who needed to be reminded of what they knew,” she said. The psychological boost was a huge part of the program’s effectiveness, other students agreed.

“It succeeded in putting me in touch with [my] professional side,” said Deborah DeMille-Wagman, a 1981 graduate of Antioch School of Law who left the legal field to adopt a second child in the mid-1990s.

Phyllis Gersteller, a 1976 Columbia Law School graduate, served four years at New York Life Insurance Company’s office of general counsel, followed by eight years with the American Council of Life Insurers in the District of Columbia before her husband’s overseas postings forced a lengthy vacation from law. She raised three children and played piano in a number of holiday and children’s musical productions before returning in 1996 to the District.

In 2008, Gersteller came across a brochure advertising a program aimed at people who, like her, have legal education and background but not much recent practice. She signed up for the program which, divided into three parts, took place on consecutive Fridays and Saturdays this semester, from October 24 to November 15.

It was not what she expected at all. “The part I thought would be least rewarding was the most rewarding,” she explained. “All that touchy, feely stuff that’s uncomfortable for lawyers.” Gersteller assumed she would get the most out of the program’s second part, focused on résumés, cover letters, and networking, among others, rather than the first part, which addresses self–assessment, career visioning, and goal-setting.

“The first part, though, was what I found fabulous and possibly life-changing. It was very introspective, encouraged you to get to know yourself, to visualize your next step. It doesn’t do any good to go off in a thousand directions.”

For Gersteller, the program’s most valuable gift was that “I came away from it knowing what to do next.”

All three women said they were looking forward to the postclassroom support in part four, where Linda Mercurio, professional coach and program executive director, gives each student three sessions of one-on-one coaching, as well as other career support for up to a year after completing the course.

The confidence boost is mentioned by most participants as being a very important element, Mercurio said. The first part includes tools such as the Myers-Briggs self-assessment, keeping a journal, and faculty roundtable discussions on balancing work and the other aspects of life.

The coaching is a step further in that direction, “with an eye toward helping them find their focus quicker,” Mercurio said.

The impetus came from Dean Claudio Grossman’s recognition of the need for such a program, varieties of which are being offered at Pace Law School and the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

Part three of the program focuses on legal research and technology, with Associate Dean Billie Jo Kaufman taking returning lawyers on a whirlwind tour of useful Web sites, and representatives from LexisNexis and Westlaw bringing them up to date on legal software.—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 automatically suspends individuals who have not attended the course 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 course is $190 ($219 after January 1). The next course dates are January 10, 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.

Brookings Panel Discusses Obama Administration’s Legal Policy
On November 12 the Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion on what direction the U.S. Department of Justice will take when Barack Obama formally assumes office on January 20.

The event, titled “Legal Policy in the Obama Administration,” featured O’Melveny & Myers LLP chair Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. and Arnold & Porter LLP partner Robert S. Litt as guest speakers who offered their predictions for the Justice Department. Brookings Visiting Fellow Russell Wheeler served as moderator.

“The Justice Department isn’t the biggest of the cabinet departments,” Wheeler reminded the audience. “In terms of budget, at $25 billion, it ranks rather small.” But with more than 100,000 people, it’s the fifth-largest department in the executive branch, he said.

Under George W. Bush, Wheeler said the department has seen a new item added to its usual set of priorities: restoring confidence—inside and out.

“Obviously, it’s no secret that the department has been in turmoil for the last several years,” he said. “I’m sure Attorney General [Alberto] Gonzales’ tenure was not what he hoped it would be,” citing the firing of nine U.S. attorneys as a blot on Gonzales’ record.

Wheeler asked the panelists whether the task of rebuilding confidence within the department had been accomplished, or if the Obama administration has much to do in that respect.

Litt, who served as principal associate deputy attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton, said that while those in the know may feel he represents the Democrats, he was not speaking for the Obama transition and has no specific insider knowledge.

“There has been an improvement” in staff morale under Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Litt said, but there’s a long way to go before the department’s tarnished reputation can be restored.

Litt also said he didn’t know enough about the case involving former Alabama governor Don E. Siegelman to determine if there was partisan influence in the prosecution. Siegelman was convicted and imprisoned on corruption charges in 2007, but at least 50 prominent legislators and officials have expressed concern that he was framed by former Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and his associates.

Meanwhile, Culvahouse, a former White House counsel who advised the late President Ronald Reagan on matters ranging from the Iran–Contra Affair to the Supreme Court nominations of Robert H. Bork and Anthony M. Kennedy, announced himself as representing “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

Culvahouse said Mukasey is “off to a fine start,” and possibly would have stayed on as attorney general had Senator John McCain been elected president.

Wheeler then asked the panel whether the problem at the Justice Department is institutional, or a matter of a few people having committed errors. Litt replied that he felt the problem ran deeper than a few individuals.

“I think the Bush administration came in with the perception that the Justice careerists were sort of a nest of liberals” who were going to try to undermine and resist the administration’s goals, he said. “And they came in with the intention of remaking the department,” which ultimately led to its politicization and abuses.

In spite of the controversies, Litt said working at the department remains “a highly desirable job.” However, he said the new administration needs to restore an environment where meaningful input to the process is possible for career attorneys. Culvahouse agreed, adding that motivation still runs high and that “the quality is still there.”

The discussion also turned to the role of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which Wheeler called “a key, but little known office in the Justice Department, involved in a somewhat controversial way in some of the administration’s national security policies.” He said the OLC was the office that produced Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo’s memo defining permissible torture.

Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. courtesy of O'Melveny & Myers LLPDuring his stint as White House counsel, Culvahouse said he and his staff viewed the OLC as outside counsel, a group of lawyers “everyone trusted.”

Culvahouse also endorsed a suggestion by O’Melveny & Myers partner Walter E. Dellinger III, who served as assistant attorney general and head of the OLC during the Clinton administration, to invite respected OLC veterans from both parties to review current OLC opinions and determine whether they should be modified.—S.S.

Ellen Zavian. Photo by Kathryn Alfisi.Youth Sports
Ellen Zavian talks to high school students visiting the D.C. Bar offices on November 7 about her career as a sports attorney. The event was part of the National Youth Leadership Forum on Law, a program held in eight U.S. cities to help high school students prepare for professional careers. Bar Counsel Wallace E. “Gene” Shipp Jr. and D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program staff attorney and training manager Michele Meitl also discussed their jobs and gave general advice about becoming involved in the legal profession.—K.A.

Membership Information Publicly Available
D.C. Bar members are reminded that certain membership information required as part of the Bar’s annual registration process is available to the public.

For active, inactive, or judicial members, the Bar releases their status, date of admission, and business addresses. For resigned, suspended, or deceased members, the Bar releases only the last known business addresses.

If active members have not provided a business address, the Bar will release the telephone number or, if none is provided, the home address. The Bar will release the same information for inactive and judicial members except for the home address, which it will provide by mail only after receiving a request in writing by mail, facsimile, or hand delivery. Members will receive a copy of the Bar’s reply.

The Bar also will provide member e-mail and fax numbers unless the member elects to restrict the use of that information to official Bar communications.

All unrestricted membership information is available on the Bar’s Web site, www.dcbar.org/membership/find-a-member.

Bush Considers Three Nominees for Superior Court Vacancy
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has forwarded to President Bush the names of three nominees—Teresa A. Howie, Stuart Nash, and Maria “Maribeth” Raffinan—to fill a judicial vacancy on the D.C. Superior Court.

The three nominees have been submitted as candidates for the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Rufus G. King III.

Howie, 50, is an assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia; she has served as the deputy chief of the Superior Court Division, one of the largest divisions at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since 2007. Howie also has served as the chief of the Felony/Major Crimes Section. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Antioch School of Law, and Howard University School of Law.

Nash, 43, is the associate deputy attorney general and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Program at the U.S. Department of Justice. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1997 to 2004 and spent three years at Williams & Connolly LLP. He is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School.

Raffinan, 38, is a supervising attorney at the D.C. Public Defender Service where she has tried more than 30 cases since she began working there in 1999. She cochaired the 2006 Deborah T. Creek Criminal Practice Institute and is a member of the Superior Court’s Drug Court Committee. A graduate of The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Raffinan also teaches at the school. She also is a graduate of Boston College.—K.A.

Georgetown Opens Global Law School in London
Georgetown University Law Center ushered in a new approach to legal education last fall with the opening of a first-of-its-kind transnational law center in London.

The Center for Transnational Legal Studies is “a unique experiment in legal education,” and one that Georgetown Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff believes will catch on quickly.

Touted as the first “truly global campus,” the center offers classes such as World Trade Law and Transnational Legal Theory. The center will host students and professors from all over the world, the benefits of which will quickly become evident, Aleinikoff said.

“Legal practice is increasingly global, and today’s law school graduates need to understand other cultures and legal systems,” Aleinikoff said. “We are delighted to partner with premier law schools from around the globe in taking the lead on transnational legal education.”

The center, founded in conjunction with the Free University of Berlin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, King’s College London, the National University of Singapore, University of Fribourg, University of Melbourne, University of São Paulo, University of Toronto, and University of Turin, focuses on the study of international, transnational, and comparative law.

Georgetown will send up to 20 students to the center, and each other founding school will send between 5 to 10 students per semester, for a total enrollment of about 50 per term the first year. Several courses will be co-taught by professors from different countries, and students earn credits toward graduation from their home institutions.

The center is the brainchild of Aleinikoff, an immigration scholar who has made transnational law a top priority at Georgetown in his four years as dean. With the help of Professor Barry Carter, International and Transnational Programs director at Georgetown who authored a concept paper and later secured formal agreements with other universities, Aleinikoff set about finding other like-minded colleagues to help put the plan in motion. He found many, including Mayo Moran, dean of the University of Toronto Law School, and Dean Yoav Dotan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Law.

Aleinikoff said the approach is “a new way of thinking about pedagogy and scholarship” that will change the way international law is taught. “We’re creating a new kind of learning space,” he said. “I think we’ll see increasing numbers of attempts to create similar centers around the world, where students can learn transnational law from the best minds across the globe.”—S.S.

Kathryn Alfisi and Steven J. Stauffer are staff writers with the D.C. Bar. E-mail them at kalfisi@dcbar.org and sstauffer@dcbar.org, respectively.