• Andrew Ramonas
    Lobbying Reporter
  • Beth Frerking
    Editor in Chief
  • David Brown
    Vice President/Editor, ALM
  • Diego Radzinschi
    Photo Editor
  • Jenna Greene
    Senior Reporter
  • Marcia Coyle
    Chief Washington Correspondent
  • Mike Scarcella
    Washington Bureau Chief
  • Todd Ruger
    Capitol Hill Reporter
  • Tony Mauro
    Supreme Court Correspondent
  • Zoe Tillman
    D.C. Courts Reporter

« SEC Charges Amish Man with Securities Fraud | Main | The Morning Wrap »

February 15, 2011


Peter S. Chamberlain

What fascinates me here is the lawyers' and law firm's duty to preserve confidences and secrets of a client? Planning this kind of conduct by unencrypted Emails sounds like amateur night, not the work of experts in such legal and political dirty tricks. Who ever heard of a legally trained political operative being that careless, stupid, or foolish? Next we'll be hearing about some third-rate burglary or burglaries. Way too many people and major entities in on this, before the plan was even reduced to a formal contract, to keep these secrets even if they hadn't incredibly used unencrypted Email.
I've never done anything on this level but did represent one bag-man and money launderer first for Humphrey and the Democrats, then for Nixon, identified in a public Watergate hearing. Worked on a Congressional kickback investigation and case in which information was taken from law offices, and one premiere D. C. law firm I talked to in that case represented the Democratic Party in one related case and the lawyer for a Republican politician in another related case. Reporter friend was told by authorities they had keys to law offices. Confidential information stolen from my office, files, and computers and disks re incestuous sexual abuse of clients, some palmed off on us by each political party, and an incredible cover-up the witnesses to which who later talked ot me are too terrorized to talk to relevant state officials or attorneys much less testify about facts they know and told me.
"Politics," as the fellow said, "ain't beanbag." The trouble is that nobody old enough to cross the street by themselves believes anything anybody in either party or on either side of a big-money issue says. I challenge you to identify ten daughters, sisters, nieces, etc. of politicians of each or either party who trust the system or most in either party in responsible positions in it.

Enquiring Mind

But what if "... Hunton knew what strategies would be put forth, or that BoA or the Chamber of Commerce ever received or acted on the proposals?"

What would be the implications of any of those (hypothetical) facts -- legal and otherwise?

Calm Mom

The following is in the AmLaw Daily article about this incident: "There is no evidence to suggest that Hunton knew what strategies would be put forth, or that BoA or the Chamber of Commerce ever received or acted on the proposals." Maybe we lawyers should wait for a trial prior to executing H&W?


Does anyone remember the doctrine of prima facie tort? At common law there was civil liability where the activity is undertaken for the purpose of causing harm to the victim. (The doctrine of the prima facie tort was evolved to furnish a remedy for the intentional infliction of damage, without excuse or justification, by an act or series of acts which would otherwise be lawful. Advance Music Corp. v. American Tobacco, Co., 296 N.Y. 79, 70 N.E.2d 401) So was Hunton & Williams planning on hiring people to commit intentional torts on behalf of clients? Maybe the emails were just low level associates' think pieces and the project was killed after professional responsibility review?

B Qunn

Calm down, left-wingnuts. No, what happened with Rather and CBS re the Bush reservist papers was that the former didn't do their job as investigating journalists, preferring to jump at a story which fit in with their preconceived conclusions without actually doing the work to confirm, all as Rather later admitted. So, the story here is: bias (usually left, although right on Fox) in the media and lack of professionalism, ie hard work and shoe leather.

This story re H&W also reveals, yet again, that: you shouldn't put it into an email unless you are comfortable reading about it on the front page which nowadays seems to occur with some frequency (standard advice, oft-ignored)(applies also to insider traders boasting of how they disposed of hard and plug-in flash drives and other evidence, apparently not knowing or imagining the feds were listening [as the FBI Ass't Director in charge of the case famously said: "For all their presumed sophistication, the defendants lacked a mobster's instinct for conversational discretion."]) and the low state of wall street (ie, large NY) law firm ethics has reached even H&W, who for so long desperately tried to emulate their northern brothers, and now seem to have succeeded fully. Who knows? Maybe the Virginia bar can emulate the North Carolina bar (see Mike Nifong, now discharged and disbarred DA on the Duke 3 "rape" case) and surprise us all by showing that yes, Virginia, sometimes there are consequences to misbehavior" even if you are a powerhouse firm.

Josephus P. Franks

"Some of the proposals developed by Team Themis were unusual. One idea, according to the liberal Think Progress blog, was to leak a forged document to a critic, who would then be shown to be untrustworthy."

Unusual? Perhaps... but wasn't that what happened with Dan Rather and the documents on George W. Bush's shoddy record of military service?


When all value is defined by money ethics flies out the window. This situation is just the tip of the ice berg. The right wing is, unfortunately, more organized and more convinced that it is right on all issues. As a result, anything it does to crush its critics is right, just and blessed. In short, they do it because they can. There will be no downside and they know it. Republicans can do just about anything as can corporations. It is truly disturbing that this is the current state of affairs in our Country and in our profession.

The link to the emails returns a warning of an unsafe page.


Judge Brennan, it is gratifying to see that there are still some judges with a sense of ethics. Would that this would only apply to the Department of Justice.

I suspect that the FBI/DOJ will pursue Anonymous with a vengeance, yet the principals of the 'intelligence' firms will who conspired to carry out crimes against American citizens and their lawful organizations will never have to so much as set foot in court.

Similarly, those parties that hacked Wikileaks and brought down its servers will likewise, never see the inside of a courtroom.

For their part, my suspicion is that Hunton & Williams will not even receive so much as a slap on the wrist for their unethical, if not illegal part in these activities.

Art Brennan

This is one excellent example of the ethical vacuum that typifies the most powerful law firms in the country. I am a retired superior court judge from New Hampshire and I am proud to say that this is not the sort of behavior that we would permit in our state. Unfortunately, it's a different world for law firms in DC and judicial ethics are sorely lacking in the US Supreme Court. It is time to turn up the heat in that kitchen.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad