An insider’s look at Maryland v. King

Supreme CourtKannon K. Shanmugam, Alonzo Jay King Jr.’s lawyer, was reviewing the amicus briefs filed to the Supreme Court in support of Maryland’s DNA collection law when he started counting. Forty-nine states had filed briefs.

Shanmugam was encouraged.

“Someone held out!” he recalled to laughter during a panel session at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting. “Then I realized it was Maryland.”

Shanmugam was gracious in defeat Thursday as he provided the lawyers and judges in Ocean City with his perspective on Maryland v. King, which reinstated the state law permitting police to collect DNA samples from people arrested on charges of committing or attempting to commit a violent crime.

“I think this is a case we will look back on in 10 or 15 years and say, That was the case from this term that had the largest impact,” said Shanmugam, a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington.

As Shanmugam was doing research for his case, he discovered the Supreme Court had never decided on the constitutionality of fingerprinting, let alone DNA testing. (He also found that since the Maryland law’s adoption, there were 20 cases where a suspect was arrested and not convicted but DNA led to the prosecution of another crime.)

Both sides agreed there was a search in the case: Shanmugam’s strategy was to argue to that DNA is different from a fingerprint when it comes to a search.

“DNA testing is not used for identification, it’s simply to show that someone committed a crime,” he said, an argument championed by Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent.

Shanmugam called the oral argument “fascinating.”

“It felt like one of those relatively few cases where the decision is in doubt during the argument,” he said.

(Also in attendance at oral arguments and Thursday’s panel were Court of Appeals Judges Glenn T. Harrell Jr. and Mary Ellen Barbera, with the latter introducing herself to Shanmugam after the discussion ended.)

The majority, Shanmugam said, placed weight on the fact King had been arrested previously, meaning King had “lost some some expectation of privacy.”

The narrowness of the reasoning was deliberate, Shanmugam added.

“The court is mindful of the fact one of the major issues it will deal with [in the future] is the Fourth Amendment and emerging technologies, particularly used by law enforcement,” he said.

That’s why Justice Samuel A. Alito called the Maryland v. King “one of the most important criminal procedure cases in the last 10 years,” Shanmugam said.

“I’m now the guy who lost the most important criminal procedure case in the last 10 years,” he added with a smile.

‘Warrior Lawyer’ launches Facebook attack

Baltimore’s “Warrior Lawyer” is waging battle a little farther south down I-95.

J. Wyndal Gordon, the “Warrior Lawyer,” unleashed an attack on Washington, D.C., Councilman Michael Brown in a post on Facebook this week.

“I never was much into D.C. politics, but I do know a Rat when I smell one,” the post begins.

Gordon is representing Brown’s former campaign manager, Hakim Sutton. Brown fired Sutton after discovering campaign funds were missing. Gordon wrote the post after Brown held a news conference announcing the $114,000 in missing campaign money.

Gordon went on to accuse Brown of “skulduggery and debauchery,” saying Brown failed to properly pay employees and hinted that Brown himself had taken the missing money.

“It is due to his own laziness, arrogance, narcissism and greed that Brown finds himself in the position he’s in today [with little money], — not some false claim of theft as he would have the public to wholesale believe,” Gordon wrote in the post.

In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The deputy general counsel at Verizon Wireless is taking the reverse commute and moving to a job at a law firm after spending 24 years in-house. John Thorne started at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel PLLC in Washington, D.C., this week.

Thorne was involved in a lot of high-profile antitrust cases while he was with Verizon and said he chose to take the job at the law firm because wanted “to do new things.”

So, here’s our question for you:

What are the top reasons an in-house attorney would move out-of-house when many do the opposite — move in-house after many years at a law firm?

Leave a comment below or email me.

Need to Know:

Lawyer puts a cork in legal career

A Washington, D.C, lawyer has chosen vino over verdicts.

The Washington Post reports Elizabeth Banker, part-owner of law firm ZwillGen PLLC in the District, has decided to quit the law and go into the wine business. Banker is opening a wine bar on Wisconsin Avenue in mid-August.

Banker has put about $600,000 into Slate Wine Bar, $450,000 of which was her own. Much of the rest of the money came from other lawyers.

The restaurant will serve some food but will concentrate on wine, a menu Banker prepared for by traveling to wineries around the world for two years.

Number of women on the bench continues to rise


Dear Judge Avery, Judge Smith, Judge Barber, readers who have posted comments and those of you who have not written yet:

We were wrong and we are sorry.

It was never our intent to trivialize the accomplishments of women judges, and yet we did just that — and we did it at the speed of light and the Internet. We published a blog post that, while well-intentioned, contained an image and content that was insulting and demeaning. That offensive material has now been removed.

As publisher of The Daily Record, I personally assure you that we respect Maryland’s female judges. We elevate and celebrate the accomplishments and perseverance of successful women in all fields through our content, our events in general and our Top 100 Women and Leading Women programs in particular, as well as their related scholarship, networking and mentoring programs.

If there is an upside to this humbling lapse in judgment, it is the dialogue I have had with several of you, and the renewed energy and commitment it has given us to recognize the resolve, persistence and achievements of women in Maryland.

Once again, our apologies.

Suzanne Fischer-Huettner


The number of female judges in the United States continues to rise.

About 27.1 percent of federal and state judges are female, up from 26.6 percent in 2011 and 26 percent in 2010, according to a new study by the University at Albany Center For Women in Government & Civil Society.

In Maryland, women made up 33.7 percent of all total state and federal judges. Breaking the numbers down, 34.4 percent of Maryland’s state judges and 26.7 percent of its federal judges are women.

Maryland has the sixth highest percentage of women judges overall. Montana leads the country with 40.3 percent; Washington, D.C., is fourth at 37.2 percent.

Other findings from the study: women make up a total of 27.5 percent of state judges around the country; and the Northwest had the highest percentage of women judges at the state and federal level, at 30.4 percent.

Law blog roundup

It was the best times and the worst of times in the law blog round-up this Monday. Though, it was mostly just the worst of times if you are a current or incoming law school student – or if you are Jerry Sandusky.

– The U.S. Attorney from Maryland has been tapped to investigate the national security leaks the country has been abuzz about since last week. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. named Rod J. Rosenstein and his counterpart in Washington, D.C.,Ronald C. Machen Jr., to head the investigation committee.

– Things aren’t looking good for a Boston criminal defense attorney found guilty on seven counts of money laundering.

– Attorneys made opening statements this morning in the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys.

– At least ten law schools around the country are cutting enrollment numbers this fall.

– And in case that was not discouraging enough, job numbers for the law school Class of 2012 are at an 18-year low.

– In brighter news, at least you weren’t these girls caught unawares (and unclothed) at University of Maryland, College Park this weekend.

A prequisite for pro bono?

Lawyers across the country have been talking about New York’s new mandate requiring those seeking to join the bar to complete 50 hours of pro bono work.

New York will be the first state to institute such a requirement, which will take effect starting next year. New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the requirement May 1.

Since then, lawyers have been discussing the pros and cons of the rule. Some say it won’t do anything to help needy clients and unnecessarily burden incoming lawyers. Others contend it will turn new lawyers on to pro bono service.

Bloomberg BNA asked lawyers around the country what they think.

Ben Trachtenberg, professor at the University of Missouri School of Law: “While I completely appreciate the motive behind Chief Judge Lippman’s plan, and there’s a tremendous access to justice problem, I don’t think this is a particularly effective or fair way to solve the problem.”

Michael Millemann, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law: Chief Judge Lippman’s decision to require 50 hours of pro bono service for admission to the bar is a good step in the right direction.”

Robert N. Weiner, partner, Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.: “The issue is whether there will be enough resources to ensure that the people doing the pro bono are getting supervised, and getting to represent the right clients, and actually serving their clients The existing infrastructure will need to be supplemented dramatically to have the capacity to accommodate all this pro bono service.”

Questions remain about the implementation and organization of the requirement (some lawyers even want to extend the rule to existing lawyers) and the New York State Bar Association has created a task force to address the issue. What impact New York’s move will have on other states also remains to be seen.

Do you think Maryland should make pro bono work a prerequisite for admission to the bar?

Across the country, less law school love

The George Washington University Law School is the latest to drop its enrollment as fewer people applied to law school for the upcoming academic year.

GW Law plans to keep its enrollment below 450, compared to this year’s class of 474, the National Law Journal reports.

Law schools across the country are grappling with upcoming fall enrollment in the face of the declining number of people taking the LSAT and even fewer applying to law school.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law announced this year that it also plans to decrease enrollment. Albany Law School, Creighton University School of Law and Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center also reduced class sizes during the 2011-2012 school year.

GW Law saw its number of applicants fall 15 percent, Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman told the Journal. It will lose some tuition revenue but plans to recoup it in increased fundraising and introducing new programs for students outside the law school, Berman said.

Baltimore schools are experiencing the similar problems. The University of Baltimore School of Law told The Daily Record  in March that its applicant numbers were down 17 percent this admissions cycle, but University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law officials were less concerned.

Law blog roundup

Hello there, readers. Here’s hoping you’ve gotten your taxes in or plan to do it by tonight.

  • The working relationship between two Lululemon shop employees was good before one allegedly killed the other.
  • New York courts plan to lay off 400 to 500 people.
  • D.C.’s medical marijuana regulations are now in effect.
  • It’s all about who you know. Page Croyder looks at influence in the courtroom.
  • What does the state’s new Padilla rule really mean?
  • Barry Bonds’ appeal will probably focus on strange verdict.
  • Romanced by a client.
  • A federal judge has sanctioned administrators at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School for covering up sexual misconduct by a former football coach who has since died.

Well, that’s one way to pay for law school

Brackets, shmackets — Give me a good half-court shot with five figures on the line any day. From Georgetown Law comes this video of student Aladdin Jaloudi sinking it during Home Court 24, the annual fundraiser that pits Georgetown law professors against members of Congress. Final score: Hoya Lawyas 49, Hill’s Angels 61, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless $415,000,  and Jaloudi, $10,000.

Not bad, for a second-year.

HT: Former Daily Record-er Richard Simon, now the web editor at GULC.