Phil Modlin Dies, 88


Philip Hodgin Modlin

Philip Hodgkin Modlin, former EOUSA director (1970-1975) passed away peacefully at age 88 on February 4, 2015. He had lung cancer. He is survived by two children, Melanie Modlin of Takoma Park, MD and Ann Modlin Boehm (Scott) of Alexandria, VA. 

As reported in Modlin’s obituary,

Born in Jamestown, North Carolina on October 9, 1926, Modlin heard the call of adventure at an early age. As a teenager, he hitchhiked to New York, Los Angeles and other fabled American places. A talented violinist and an ardent movie fan, his initial plan was to be a studio musician in Hollywood. That dream took him to the University of Michigan, where he pledged Sigma Chi and commenced to study music. Grasping that his true talents lay elsewhere, he transferred to High Point (N.C.) College, earning his A.B. degree in 1947. His sharp intelligence and powers of analysis helped him attend the George Washington University law school. and earn his J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina in 1950.

Modlin was proud of the fact that he held 67 jobs during his lifetime, including soap wrapper, golf course starter and magistrate for the city of Alexandria. With that unique frame of reference, he was often hailed by those who knew him as an insightful career coach.

Philip Modlin found his greatest job satisfaction at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served with distinction for 25 years. During his career, he played an integral part in the creation of the Attorney General’s Honor Program and Advocacy Institute. In 1970, he became Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, where he hired and worked with many future legal luminaries. Another of his later duties, which he relished, was to advise U.S. Attorneys General on judicial appointments. He traveled often to Capitol Hill to meet with senators, striking up an especially warm working relationship with Sen. James Eastland (D-Miss.), the powerful head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Toward the end of his Justice career, he served as the primary Deputy Associate Attorney General.

A memorial service will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church,  Alexandria, VA on Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 11 a.m. 

Phillips Memorial Service Held in Jackson

A memorial service was held yesterday in Jackson, Mississippi, for George Landon Phillips, former United States Attorney, 1980-1994, who passed away on January 26, 2015. (See January 27 obituary posted below). Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was the keynote speaker. NAFUSA member James Tucker spoke at the service and presented to George’s wife, Nicole, the American flag that flown over Main Justice in George’s honor.

In the photo shown below, Tucker is making his presentation and the flag, within its case, can be seen sitting on the chair.

James Tucker

James Tucker

In the next photo, Tucker is presenting the flag to Nicole Phillips. It has been a NAFUSA tradition upon the death of a former U.S. Attorney to arrange with EOUSA to have flag flown over Main Justice in his or her honor, then boxed in a beautiful display case and presented to the family. This tradition began during the time when Marshall Jarrett was the director of EOUSA and has continued under Director Monty Wilkinson. Our special thanks to Im Saovaluk at EOUSA for her special assistance in making this happen.

James Tucker

In the final photo, a group of U.S. Attorneys are attending an LECC subcommittee meeting of the AGAC several years ago.

George Phillips, John Smietanka, Sam Currin, Rich Stacy and Dick Cohen

Former U.S. Attorneys: George Phillips SDMS), John Smietanka (WDMI), John Gill (MDTN), Sam Currin (EDNC) , Rich Stacy (WY)  and Dick Cohen (ME)

Easton Commended for Pro Bono Court Martial Defense

Steve Easton

Steve Easton

At the request of Major Jessica Grace Martz, U.S. Marine Corps, NAFUSA member Steve Easton joined the defense team as lead counsel in the General Court-Martial of Sergeant Kayla Cerda, at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina in December of 2014.

Major Martz met Easton when she was a student at the University of Wyoming, College of Law. Easton taught her criminal procedure and trial practice classes and was her moot court competition coach. He encouraged Martz to become a trial attorney and told her “if you ever need help, please call me.” When Martz returned to the Marine Corps, she became a new judge advocate. Soon she found herself “undermanned and overwhelmed” in the Cerda case and called upon Easton for help.

Easton joined the Cerda team in August of 2014 to provide pro-bono service, and as Major Martz reports, “His impact was immediate and extremely positive….His tenacity and professionalism in the courtroom were recognized by all, even the military judge.” Sgt. Cerda was acquitted of all charges.

Click here to read Major Martz’s  commendation letter written to NAFUSA.

After reading Major Martz’s letter, Easton responded,

While I very much appreciate Major Martz’s kind words, I feel compelled to note that she is being overly generous in describing our respective roles. While I was technically “lead counsel,” only because civilian counsel is presumed to be the lead counsel in court-martial trials, this was very much a shared command. While it might (or might not!) be true the Sgt. Cerda would not have been found not guilty on all twenty counts that went to the Members (as the jurors are called in court-martials) without me, it is definitely true that she would not have been found not guilty without the considerable skills and hard work of Major Martz. She handled dozens of key witnesses, conducted the voir dire, and gave the defense opening. In difficult circumstances, she was superb in all of these facets of the trial, as well as in her pretrial advocacy and investigative work. Working with Major Martz on this case was my proudest moment as a teacher. To see one’s student fight the good fight for her client, both ethically and tenaciously, against long odds, is something I will always treasure.

Easton reflected on the virtues of pro bono work,

As someone who wishes he had done a bit more pro bono work over the years, I can add that I am now a big believer in the concept that all of us should try, at least once, to pretty much drop everything and take on the representation of someone who could use our help, despite the odds and the reality that doing so will set us behind on everything else that demands our time and attention.

Easton is a professor of law at the University of Wyoming College of Law. He served as United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota 1990-1993.


George Terwilliger Moves to McGuireWoods


George Terwilliger

McGuireWoods announced on January 29, 2015, that NAFUSA member George Terwilliger has joined the firm as co-chair of the white collar practice and leader of the new Strategic Risk and Crisis Management group.

George served as the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont 1986-1991 and the Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush and helped lead the Bush legal team in the 2000 Florida election recount. In the private sector, Terwilliger counsels clients in internal investigations and enforcement proceedings, especially those involving the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other agencies.

Also making the move from Morgan Lewis is Robert Bittman, whose practice focuses on issues impacting multinational corporations, particularly matters arising under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and False Claims Act, as well as Todd Steggerda, who brings to McGuireWoods more than 16 years of experience in government contracts litigation.

Richard Cullen

“Attracting George Terwilliger, Bob Bittman and Todd Steggerda is a coup for any firm,” said NAFUSA member Richard Cullen, shown right, chairman of the firm and a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia 1991-1993, and former Virginia attorney general who established the firm’s white collar practice. “Their experience, connections and leadership will be a tremendous asset for our clients. We are delighted they are joining us to launch the Strategic Risk and Crisis Management practice.”

Jenny Durkan Joins Quinn Emanuel

Jenny Durkan

Jenny A. Durkan stepped down as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington at the end of September and, on January 7, 2015, joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP as a partner. The firm announced it was opening an office in Seattle, and that Durkan would be based there. She became a member of NAFUSA today.

Durkan will serve as Global Chair of the Cyber Law and Privacy Group, and join the firm’s White Collar & Corporate Investigations practice. Duran was in the first group of six U.S. Attorneys nominated by President Obama in May 2009; she was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in September 2009. During her five years as U.S. Attorney, Durkan was a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and chaired its sub-committee on Cybercrime and IP Enforcement. She served on the DOJ’s Cyber Advisory Committee and IP Enforcement Taskforce, and co-chaired the Taskforce’s criminal and civil enforcement working groups. In addition to Seattle, Durkan will practice out of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

Durkan is Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Washington. Before serving as the U.S. Attorney in Seattle, Durkan was known for her work in noteworthy litigation, including serving as trial counsel to defend Washington Governor Christine Gregoire in the disputed election re-count of 2004.

Quinn Emanuel is a 700+ lawyer business litigation firm—the largest in the world devoted solely to business litigation and arbitration with 18 global office locations.

Tris Coffin Joins Downs Rachlin Martin

Tris Coffin

NAFUSA’s newest member, Tristram J. Coffin, left his position as United States Attorney for the District of Vermont on January 12, 2015, to join the northern New England law firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC as a director in the Burlington office.

At DRM, Coffin will represent clients in significant civil and criminal litigation both within Vermont and outside of the state. He will assist clients with internal and external investigations in areas such as health care, corporate fiduciary duties, government contracting and securities.

Except for three years in private practice in 2006-2009, Coffin has spent the last 17 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, including the past six years as chief prosecutor. Coffin was appointed to the post in 2009 by President Barack Obama. From 2009 to his departure, Coffin served as co-chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Practice of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, dealing with key issues facing the Department of Justice, including discovery reform, charging standards, sentencing issues, agency tape recording policy, Giglio reform and grand jury practice. He also served on the AGAC Health Care Fraud Working Group, the Cyber Crime Working Group and the Cross Border Crime Forum, addressing issues of U.S.-Canada law enforcement and cooperation.

A graduate of Wesleyan University and the Columbia University School of Law, Coffin was counsel to the Subcommittee on Technology and the Law of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he worked closely with Vermont Senator Leahy. In that capacity, Coffin assisted the Senator with policies regarding crime, civil rights and court legislation, hi-tech antitrust issues, the Northeast Interstate Dairy Compact, and the approval of three nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court and many executive and judicial branch nominees, among other matters.

The 60-plus attorneys at DRM apply creativity, connections and experience to solve the toughest legal problems. From offices located in Vermont and New Hampshire, DRM represents regional, national and international entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technology businesses and Fortune 100 companies. The legal services provided by the firm include bankruptcy and business restructuring, general business, captive insurance, renewable energy and telecommunications, health law, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, real estate and land use, environmental,tax, and trusts and estates, plus legislative and regulatory services through the firm’s Government and Public Affairs group. DRM is the exclusive member firm in Vermont for Lex Mundi – the world’s leading network of independent law firms with in-depth experience in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Rodger Heaton Appointed Illinois Public Safety Director

Rodger Heaton

This week Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner announced the appointment of NAFUSA member Rodger Heaton as Public Safety Director and Homeland Security Advisor.

Heaton has 30 years of legal experience, including spending more than four years as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois (2005-2009), appointed by President George W. Bush. Most recently, he was a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson. He also spent two years as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis.

Until joining the administration, Heaton was an Administrative Law Judge with the U.S. Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. He presided over federal administrative hearings of disability claims under the Social Security Act.

Heaton earned his law degree from Indiana University and holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2015 Dues Notice


2015 NAFUSA membership dues were payable by February 28, 2015. Dues remain at $150 for regular members, $1500 for lifetime and $50 for seniors (fully retired and over 70).

If you have not yet paid your 2015 dues, you are in arrears. Please register on line by clicking on the red link below. You may pay by credit card or mail a check. Please fill out the on line registration even if mailing a check.