By Anna Louie Sussman
By now Securities and Exchange Commission watchers are well aware of the bank-heavy client list of Debevoise & Plimpton partner Mary Jo White, nominated last week by President Barack Obama to be the agency’s chairperson. Writing in The New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin catalogs White’s potential conflicts of interest as SEC chairperson and notes that her husband, John W. White, has megabank clients of his own.
John White is a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore who also served as director of the SEC’s corporate finance division, says Sorkin.
White’s ongoing role at Cravath, “one of the most pre-eminent firms in the country, whose clients include some of the nation’s largest corporations” -- JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse and UBS -- and his wife’s work for banking clients creates two hurdles for him should her nomination be confirmed, says Sorkin. There is the issue of “optics,” or the appearance of conflict, and the potential for recusals from any SEC work related to her former clients.
The Aaron Swartz case
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Two key lawmakers on the House
Oversight and Government Reform Committee are
requesting a briefing from the Justice Department about the prosecution
of Aaron Swartz, the 26-year-old Internet activist who committed suicide
earlier this month, according to The
Hill. The committee’s chairman, Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) have written a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating that there are "many questions"
about how prosecutors handled the case and asking
for a briefing by Feb. 4.
In 2011, Swartz was arrested for
breaking into a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and downloading nearly 5 million documents from
the academic archive JSTOR. A report
by CNet indicates that state prosecutors had planned to let Swartz off with a
stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and decided to
make an example of Swartz, who eventually was
charged with crimes carrying a maximum penalty of up to 35 years in prison and
fines of up to $1 million. Ortiz recently defended
the actions of her office by saying the prosecutors
recognized there was no evidence that Swartz acted for personal gain and they
would have asked for a sentence of six months in a low-security setting.
In the letter to the Justice Department, Issa and Cummings ask seven questions, including whether Swartz’s
opposition to the Stop Online Privacy Act or his association with advocacy
groups were considered by the prosecutors.
They also asked about factors that influenced the sentencing
proposals and about plea offers made in other
cases brought under the Computer Fraud and
By Anna Louie Sussman
Diploma-mill law schools are the scourge of legal academia.
They're also the backers of U.S Supreme Court Chief Justice John
Robert's all-expense-paid European jaunts, during which he's
paid a thousand dollars an hour to teach law students over
summer sessions, says University of Colorado law professor PaulCampos in Salon.
Roberts's disclosure forms from 2009, the most recent year
available, show a $15,000 teaching stipend received from a
consortium of four law schools for a two-week course on the
history of the Supreme Court that he co-taught in Ireland with
another law professor. The class met seven times for two-hour
sessions, and the students came from California Western School
of Law, New England Law School in Boston, South Texas College of
Law and William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Campos argues that the costly summer programs are ultimately
paid for by taxpayers, since the students take out massive loans
that, given the caliber of the schools, are unlikely to be
repaid. By adding up the number of students whose salaries could
feasibly allow them to service their loans, Campos concludes
that only 29 out of the nearly 1,300 graduates will avoid
defaulting. Taxpayers will likely be on the hook for the
The average student from the four schools graduates with
more than $150,000 in debt, Campos says, and nearly 20 percent
of them are unemployed. Maybe it's time for Roberts to look a
little more closely at who's funding his summer escapades, he
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