Sunday, December 25, 2005



Relentless man on a mission


By Leigh Jones

Staff reporter

December 19, 2005



No one else in 2005 roiled politics inside the Beltway and the media that feed on it like the prosecutor from Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald.


As special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, Fitzgerald has taken on some of the most influential people in the world by trying to uncover who in Washington divulged to the press the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.


The list is long on powerful politicians, lawyers and journalists that his continuing investigation has touched so far. But the matter also encompasses the very reasons for the war in Iraq that has cost about 2,150 American lives, while at the same time striking at the heart of freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.


For those reasons, Fitzgerald is The National Law Journal's 2005 Lawyer of the Year.


At 44, Fitzgerald is, to some, exacting and thorough. To others, he is perhaps obsessive and relentless. But it is this attention to detail and his formidable memory that many observers say make him a tough and level-headed adversary.


"He doesn't take unfair advantage of the fact that he's smart," Frederick Cohn said. A criminal defense attorney, Cohn represented one of four men convicted of conspiring to bomb the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. Fitzgerald prosecuted the case as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he worked for 13 years before becoming the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 2001.


"If I were someone who was a bad guy, I would not want him on my trail," Cohn said.


Fitzgerald earned recognition as a meticulous and sometimes single-minded prosecutor while working for the Southern District of New York. There, he served as chief of the organized crime/ terrorism unit. Besides the embassy terrorism trial, he handled the prosecution of 12 defendants charged with conspiring to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. He also prosecuted the Gambino crime family, charged with drug trafficking and murder, among other things.


But it is his role in the CIA leak investigation that has brought Fitzgerald the most attention. Appointed in 2003 by James Comey, then the deputy U.S. attorney general, Fitzgerald has the task of determining whether senior officials in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Protection Act of 1982.


His mission is to uncover how Plame's name appeared in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.


Bush detractors charge that the administration leaked her name in response to an opinion piece by Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, published in the New York Times that was critical of the administration's reasons for entering the war in Iraq.


The ongoing investigation has snowballed, gathering in its path top administration officials and well-known journalists, one of whom, the New York Times' Judith Miller, spent 85 days in jail for violating a subpoena to reveal her source.


So far, Fitzgerald has indicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. And Fitzgerald is presenting evidence to a new grand jury, which could lead to charges against others, including Karl Rove, top advisor to President George W. Bush.


The attorney for Rove, Robert Luskin with Patton Boggs in Washington, declined to comment for this article. Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York, did not return a phone call.


Afflicted with 'tunnel vision'


Despite the dogged determination that has characterized Fitzgerald's investigation, he is a mild-mannered, regular fellow, say those who know him well.


"He's a plain-spoken, boy-next-door kind of guy," said Karen Seymour, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York. Seymour is a former federal prosecutor who led the government's obstruction case against Martha Stewart and worked with Fitzgerald in New York.


He has the ability to take complicated issues and facts and convey them in plain language that connects with jurors, she said. But beneath that average Joe demeanor is a "brilliant strategist" with a "quick wit," she said.


It may be difficult to find those who would criticize the man himself, but it is not difficult to find those who take issue with the leak investigation.


First Amendment attorney Bruce Sanford said that Fitzgerald, whom he has met, has the typical "tunnel vision of a prosecutor," one who believes that anyone "deserves to be in jail for one thing or another." But he is also an "appealing and accomplished" man, Sanford said.


The investigation itself, however, is the result of "classic bureaucratic infighting" and a waste of taxpayer money, he said.


Sanford, a partner in Baker & Hostetler's Washington office, has represented several television networks, magazines and publishing houses, and has called for a national shield law to protect reporters from having to reveal sources.


He questions whether anyone connected to the Plame matter has actually violated the Intelligence Protection Act of 1982, since the law is narrowly drawn to protect free speech. In addition, that issue has become muddled in the politics surrounding the inquiry, he said.


"It has become confused with whether people like the Bush administration, whether they approve of our reasons for entering Iraq and what should be done about the war," Sanford said.


The Conrad Black case


Besides handling the leak investigation, Fitzgerald, as the U.S. attorney in Chicago, earlier this year brought fraud charges against Conrad Black, accusing the former publishing executive at Hollinger International and three of its other executives of illegally diverting almost $84 million from the sale of the company's newspapers and other publications. Fitzgerald announced four new charges against Black last week: racketeering, obstruction of justice, money laundering and wire fraud.


Also this year, Fitzgerald's office charged two Chicago executives in a widespread corruption scandal with fraudulently rigging the hiring and promotion of favored job applicants by conducting false employment interviews and falsifying application scores.


Jack Carriglio, immediate past president of the Federal Bar Association's Chicago chapter and a partner at Meckler Bulger & Tilson, said that Fitzgerald is "highly regarded" among attorneys in the Chicago community. He added that in March Fitzgerald "spoke privately" to bar association lawyers who gathered after the murders of the husband and mother of U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow.


A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Fitzgerald is the son of Irish immigrants. His father worked as a doorman in Manhattan. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College with a degree in economics and mathematics, and he received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1985.


After law school, he practiced for three years as an associate at Christy & Viener in New York, which in 1999 merged with Salans Hertzfeld & Heilbronn.


Fitzgerald then went to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Four years ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, where he manages a staff of more than 160 attorneys. He has not married.


Fitzgerald, famously press shy, is known to keep cool under pressure. Dean Polales, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago who served as counsel to Fitzgerald until last February, said that his former boss is positively "mellow."


"Even in the pressure-cooker situations, I have never seen him get upset. I've never seen him bark at anyone," said Polales, who now practices white-collar criminal defense with Chicago's Ungaretti & Harris. Fitzgerald's patience will continue to be tested, it seems, as the leak investigation marks its second anniversary this month.


Fitzgerald would not comment for this article. More information:



The national law journal, lawyer of the year , 2005,  Rodrigo González  Fernández, lawyerschile.blogspot.com, Santiago, Chile

RODRIGO GONZALEZ FERNADEZ has sent you an article from npr.org

RODRIGO GONZALEZ FERNADEZ thought you would be interested in this story:

"NPR : U.N. World Summit on Information Age" <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5013744>

This message was included:


* Listen to this story * You may listen to this story with a RealAudio or WindowsMedia player. Visit the NPR Online Help Center to download a player or request support. <http://www.npr.org/help/>

* Order a text transcript of this story * <http://www.npr.org/transcripts/>


* Hanukkah Lights: Stories of the Season * New product in the NPR Shop: Hanukkah Lights, a book/cd set featuring stories from NPR's annual holiday special. <http://shop.npr.org>

From The Chicago tribune Will execution move the debate? The case of Stanley Tookie Williams, who was killed by lethal injection Tuesday, rallied foes and advocates of the death penaltyBy Maurice Possley and Steve MillsTribune staff reportersPublished December 13, 2005, 2:42 AM CST LOS ANGELES -- Of the more than 1,000 people executed in this country since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, the case of Stanley Tookie Williams is one of only a few that have emerged as touchstones in the national debate over the ultimate punishment.Early Tuesday, Williams was executed by lethal injection at California's San Quentin prison, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected two last-minute bids for clemency. On Monday, Schwarzenegger had argued that Williams' failure to express remorse for four 1979 murders showed he was not rehabilitated.Whether Williams' execution ultimately moves the death penalty debate is a matter of debate itself.Public support for the death penalty has dropped in the past 25 years as 122 inmates have been exonerated and set free from Death Rows. At the same time, the machinery of execution has slowed.In these most public of cases, questions are posed in varying ways: Is this case a question of innocence? Is it a matter of rehabilitation and, consequently, mercy? Or is it the continuing question of the propriety of capital punishment?Think of Gary Graham and Karla Faye Tucker (both executed in Texas), Mumia Abu-Jamal (who obtained a new sentencing hearing this year in Pennsylvania) and more recently, Robin Lovitt (commuted last month to life in prison in Virginia).Assessing the legacy of these cases is difficult, particularly when they seem to have a relatively short public shelf life.The most recent Gallup poll, taken in October, shows that support nationally for the death penalty has dropped from as high as 80 percent in 1994 to 64 percent, though it has remained steady for the past three years.According to the poll, that support dips to 56 percent if the alternative is life in prison without parole.Death sentences have dropped too. The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, reports that the number of death sentences imposed has fallen from a high of more than 300 annually in the 1990s to 144 in 2003.At the same time, the number of executions has fallen from a high of 98 in 1999 to 59 in 2004. Williams was the 59th this year.And in the past year, the specter of wrongful executions was raised by the Tribune and the Houston Chronicle, whose investigations strongly suggested that Texas executed innocent men--Cameron Todd Willingham and Ruben Cantu.Williams' is the latest in a series of recent capital cases that have captured the attention of the public and the media. His case focused primarily on his rehabilitation, though his attorneys contended at the 11th hour that they had found three jailhouse witnesses who claimed Williams was framed.In the end, death penalty advocates and opponents alike will likely point to his case as supporting their positions. As a former leader of the notorious Crips street gang, he was convicted of four murders. While in prison, he wrote children's books with anti-gang themes and denounced violence.A commutation likely would have fueled the anti-death penalty movement more than his execution will bolster those who support capital punishment, said Joshua Marquis, the district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., and vice president of the National District Attorneys Association.Marquis, a noted death penalty supporter, said individual cases rarely lead to significant change. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's recent commutation of Lovitt's sentence came and went with little controversy.Rallying point for opponentsAt the same time, though, Lawrence Marshall, founder of Northwestern University Law School's Center on Wrongful Convictions and now a professor at Stanford Law School in California, said, "Clearly, here in California, this [Williams'] case has engendered a tremendous amount of passion and has created an anti-death penalty movement that is more vocal than ever."The question is what's going to happen to that," he said. "Will this be part of a series of events that triggers more scrutiny and questions, or will it be perceived as a defeat with people going back to their homes to forget about it? It is too soon to tell." Much like Williams' case, the lead-up to the executions in Texas of Tucker and Graham stirred great controversy.Marquis compared Williams' case to that of Abu-Jamal, the Pennsylvania Death Row inmate who attracted celebrity supporters. After a court granted Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing, the case swiftly "fell off the radar," he said. If the Williams case has any impact, Marquis said, it will be that, for a short time at least, the death penalty became a topic of discussion. "The Tookie Williams execution is being used as a vehicle to discuss the death penalty, which is not an altogether bad thing," Marquis said. "Through the fog of all the rhetoric, some good issues are being discussed." To Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Center, Williams' bid for clemency was a test case in an effort to determine which way the capital punishment debate is headed--though reading the trend is far from simple. Conflicting signals For example, Congress is threatening to break up the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has long been seen as one of the most liberal federal appeals courts in the nation. In addition, lawmakers are considering the Streamlined Procedures Act, which would limit convicted inmates' ability to take their appeals to federal court. At the same time, the California Senate created a commission to study the death penalty system there and deliver a report by the end of 2007. "It used to be that the way Texas goes, there goes the death penalty," Dieter said. "But maybe now it will be California. This could signal California having quite a few executions." David Dow, a death penalty lawyer who runs the Texas Innocence Network, offered another view, predicting the spike in the death penalty debate would subside until another high-profile case comes into focus. He noted that just two weeks ago, the nation's 1,000th execution made headlines. "But in the two weeks after number 1,000, there were two more executions that nobody paid attention to," he said. Had Schwarzenegger spared Williams, it might have provided cover for other governors--especially Republicans who traditionally have been outspoken supporters of the death penalty--to grant clemency. But sometimes a governor's decision has little long-lasting impact. In 1996, then-Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar commuted the death sentence of Guinevere Garcia, even though Garcia demanded to be put to death, in what was largely perceived as Edgar's reluctance to sign a death warrant for a woman. Edgar's action was only a footnote when Gov. George Ryan imposed a moratorium on executions in Illinois in 2000 and emptied Death Row with a mass commutation in 2003. "Sure, the level of attention [the Williams case] is receiving is not going to last," Dieter said. "But it will have an effect. You may not remember the name, but it may give a hint on the death penalty's direction." Steve Mills reported from Los Angeles and Maurice Possley from Chicago