Toobin Profiles Prett Bharara

Preet Bharara photograph by Platon for The New Yorker

Preet Bharara photograph by Platon for The New Yorker

In the May 9, 2016, issue of The New Yorker, in “The Showman”, Jeffrey Toobin profiles  Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Toobin, who was NAFUSA’s keynote speaker last fall in Scottsdale, traces Bharara’s extensive record of investigations and prosecutions of Wall Street figures, the leaders of both houses of the New York legislature and gang members in the Bronx.

As the leader of the “Sovereign District” of New York, Bharara’s office has been involved in some of the most important criminal cases in the country. He has, however, been criticized by some for the lack of any criminal charges against any top executives of the major firms involved in the financial collapse. But Toobin reports,

In a conversation in his office, Bharara rejected the critique. Without going into specifics, he said that his team had looked at Wall Street executives and found no evidence of criminal behavior. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the things that we had either been assigned before I got here or had the initiative to look at were looked at really, really carefully and really, really hard by the best people in the office,” he said. “There’s a natural frustration, given how bad the consequences were for the country, that more people didn’t go to prison for it, because it’s clearly true that when you see a bad thing happen, like you see a building go up in flames, you have to wonder if there’s arson. You have to wonder if there’s anybody prosecuting. Now, sometimes it’s not arson, it’s an accident. Sometimes it is arson, and you can’t prove it.”

When Toobin spoke to Eric Holder, he found support for Bharara,

Eric Holder, who, as Attorney General, was Bharara’s boss for six years, made a similar point. “Do you honestly think that Preet Bharara and all those hotshots in the U.S. Attorney’s office would not have made those cases if they could?” he said. “Those are career-making cases. Those cases are your ticket. The fight would have been over who got to try them. We just didn’t have the evidence.”

Toobin is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a senior analyst for CNN. He also served as an AUSA in Brooklyn earlier in his career.

Jeffrey Toobin



Vaira To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Peter Vaira

Peter Vaira

The Legal Intelligencer announced on April 28, 2016, that NAFUSA member Peter Vaira will be among this year’s recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards. See: Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Announced _ The Legal Intelligencer (1).

The Intelligencer, the daily legal newspaper in Philadelphia, will present the awards at a public dinner at a later date, announced that,

Our focus in selecting this group of individuals was to represent the figures who have helped to shape the law in Pennsylvania, whether through their work on the bench, assisting those in need of legal services, building a firm or any other means. We sought to honor attorneys who have had a distinct impact on the legal profession in the state.

Vaira served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 1978-1983, and is currently a partner at Greenblatt Pierce Engle Funt Flores in Philadelphia.

Ted Olson Calls For Truce on Supreme Court Confirmation Battles

Ted Olson

In an opinion published on April 28, 2016, in The Wall Street Journal, A Supreme Court Challenge for Democrats, NAFUSA member Ted Olson opines,

The relentless partisan warfare over Supreme Court appointments, including the latest manifestation involving Judge Merrick Garland, is disheartening, damaging to the court and corrosive to civil discourse. The Supreme Court renders 70 to 80 decisions every year, 20% to 30% of them highly controversial. Public acceptance of contentious outcomes, even from those who strongly disagree, is important to the stability of our Republic. And the public’s willingness to accept decisions depends on the court’s moral authority, independence, reputation and integrity.

But Olson states that a truce cannot be one-sided, arguing that the Rubicon seems to have been crossed in 1987 with the Senate rejection of Robert Bork. He urges that the Republicans could make Judge Garland’s nomination a turning point, but “Democrats must make a credible commitment to keep their part of the bargain.”

If, however, a pact could be reached among responsible Republican and Democratic leaders to give well-qualified Supreme Court nominees of either party a hearing and a vote within 120-180 days of a nomination, we could start down a path toward restoring an atmosphere of respect and civility to this process—and to prospective Supreme Court justices.

Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, spoke on Supreme Court issues at the 2013 NAFUSA conference in Washington. He is a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

NAFUSA Officers and Board to Meet in New Orleans

Don Washington

The NAFUSA annual spring board meeting will take place in New Orleans on May 14, 2016. The board meets twice a year: at the fall conference and in the spring. Members pay their own travel and hotel expenses. NAFUSA members in the New Orleans area are invited to join the board at related social events. Former board member Don Washington and his law firm, Jones Walker LLP, are hosting this year’s meeting. Local NAFUSA members Don Cazayoux and Jim Letten will join us for dinner, as will local U.S. Attorney Ken Polite.

NAFUSA Liaison Committee To Meet With DAG and AGAC

Greg Vega

Greg Vega

NAFUSA President Greg Vega will lead the NAFUSA Liaison Committee to Washington on May 5 to meet with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) to discuss issues of mutual interest. This continues a series of meetings with Department officials which began in 2010.

The Liaison Committee is composed of President Vega, President Elect Bart Daniel, Foundation President Mike McKay, Ken Wainstein, Jenny Durkan and Executive Director Rich Rossman.

Second Guessing Medical Judgment Does Not Prove False Claims

Jack Selden

Jack Selden

NAFUSA member Jack Selden and his firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP won a significant victory this week both for their client AseraCare and for the False Claims Act (“FCA”) defense bar generally. A federal judge struck down a $200 million FCA case against the hospice provider, holding that the government’s second guessing of physicians’ medical judgment alone cannot prove false claims.

In United States ex rel. Paradies v. AseraCare, Inc., No. 2:12-cv-245, Doc. 497 (N.D. Ala. March 31, 2016), Judge Karon Bowdre granted summary judgment for the defendant after an eight week trial, much of which consisted of conflicting expert testimony about the hospice eligibility of 123 patients. After considering the evidence presented, Judge Bowdre found that the government had failed to prove its case, as “[a] mere difference of opinion between physicians, without more, is not enough to show falsity.” Id. at 2. AseraCare Memorandum Opinion and AseraCare FINAL ORDER.

Continue reading