What court is complete without a cadre of lawyers ready, willing and able to investigate the conduct of other lawyers? This week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit announced that it has created its very own squad of lawyer cops. Here are the names of members:
Chairman: Michael B. Mukasey of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP (New York).
Members: Eileen M. Blackwood of Blackwood & Danon, P.C. (Burlington, VT); Terrence M. Connors of Connors and Vilardo, LLP (Buffalo); Deidre M. Daly of Daly and Pavlis LLC (Southport, CT); Evan A. Davis of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (New York); David Fein of Wiggin and Dana LLP (Stamford, CT); Howard A. Levine of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP (Albany); Loretta E. Lynch of Hogan and Harston LLP (New York); and, Mary Jo White of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (New York).
Ms. White is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, leaving that post after nine years service in 2002. Expect the commitee to bare its teeth, and soon.
The committee's jurisdiction is set by Local Rule 46(h). "The court may refer to the Committee any accusation or evidence of misconduct in respect to any professional matter before this court .... Such matters may include not only acts of affirmative misconduct but negligent conduct of counsel."
It is not clear why the Circuit felt the need for a cadre of ethics policemen all its own. Any lawyer who appears before this court is also a member of another bar. Nothing prevented the Circuit's judges from making grievance complaints to local authorites. Presumably, one set of cops is enough.
But whose to blame the Circuiteers? Overcriminalization is the rage. Why not overpolicing of the profession, too? Be sure to set your briefs in the right font size. Big brother is watching.