You might not realize it but a Russian company accused of financing an attack on American democracy is trying to use the U.S. court system to make a mockery of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
The company is Concord Management and Consulting LLC. The Russian company, owned by one of Putin’s cronies, stands accused of bankrolling the operations of the St. Petersburg-based Internet troll farm that bombarded Americans with divisive content on social media during the 2016 election.
Not only has Concord Management pleaded not guilty to what it calls “a make-believe crime” — conspiracy to defraud the United States — it has battled to gain access to Mueller’s sensitive investigative files.
No doubt it would be interesting to Concord and its Russian masters how Mueller was able to obtain such detailed and devastating information.
I was wondering what sort of attorney would represent a company like Concord Management.
The answer, it turns out, is a bad one.
His name is Eric A. Dubelier and he has somehow managed to reach the rank of partner at the firm Reed Smith LLP despite repeatedly embarrassing himself and his firm in court.
His legal filings in the case quoted Flounder (!) from the film Animal House. In open court, he pointed his finger at Jeannie Rhee, one of Mueller’s prosecutors, and said her claim that he had hung up on her in a phone call was “bullshit.”
Judge Dabney Friedrich called Dubelier’s actions “unprofessional, inappropriate, and ineffective.”
This is what is known in the legal profession as a “benchslap.”
Sure, it stings. Most attorneys just take it.
Not Dubelier. His response was a legal filing one observer described as “breathtakingly petulant:”
Perhaps more importantly however, the Court did not consider the fact that while the mainstream media has largely ignored Defendant’s pending motions, when the word “Judge” appears before a person’s name, this political adornment suggests to the public that there now is some higher level of wisdom than among the mere mortal lawyers in the case, and as such, every single mainstream media organization repeated the Court’s words as gospel.
How dare the media quote the judge!
But there’s more.
The direct consequence was swift and clear; that is, undersigned counsel have received overnight and continuing today a flow of hatred in the form of voicemail and electronic mail from self-proclaimed patriots containing threats, intimidation, and the desire that both undersigned counsel promptly die. One communication specified that the cause of death for [co-counsel Katherine] Seikaly should be by fire. Apparently some of these brave self-proclaimed patriots were whipped into their frenzy by a cable television entertainer unknown to undersigned counsel named Rachel Maddow who devoted a significant portion of her variety program to the words spoken by the Court yesterday. So while counsel’s words used in advocacy can hurt, the words of a Judge can have devastating consequences.
Dubelier’s humiliation is palpable. Which is surprising. It’s not the first time he’s been benchslapped.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also benchslapped Dubelier in her 2011 dissent in the case of Connick v. Thompson.
This case involved an infamous episode of prosecutorial misconduct in the death penalty case of John Thompson. (Thompson spent 14 years on Louisiana Death Row until an investigation found blood evidence that would have exonerated him was withheld from the defense. Dubelier was the special prosecutor on the case.)
Here’s RBG’s benchslap of Dubelier:
On what basis can one be confident that law schools acquaint students with prosecutors’ unique obligation under Brady? Whittaker told the jury he did not recall covering Brady in his criminal procedure class in law school. Dubelier’s alma mater, like most other law faculties, does not make criminal procedure a required course.
Translation: Just because Eric Dubelier has a law degree doesn’t mean he knows the law.
The Brady rule RBG is talking about is the 1963 Supreme Court case of Brady v Maryland. Ever since that ruling, prosecutors have had to share with defense attorneys any evidence that might help exonerate a defendant.
Dubelier, questioned under oath, could not articulate the Brady rule, according to a Slate article on the Thompson case.
Dubelier’s alma mater, Tulane University, bears some of the blame here. Dubelier spent the better part of a decade at Tulane, leaving a bachelor’s degree (with honors), an MBA, and finally, in 1984, a law degree.
A year out of law school, Dubelier, working for the New Orleans district attorney’s office, embarrassed himself before Judge Oser in a high-profile point-shaving case against a former Tulane basketball star, John “Hot Rod” Williams.
That’s another violation of the same Brady obligations Justice RBG referenced earlier.
Judge Oser reversed himself and, later, dismissed the case again saying Dubelier had deliberately concealed Brady material from the defense. Williams was acquitted in a retrial.
Despite his disastrous performance in the Hot Rod Williams case, Dubelier remained a close assistant to New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. (the father of singer Harry Connick Jr.). It didn’t hurt that Dubelier was briefly married to Connick’s niece.
After New Orleans, Dubelier spent more than a decade as a prosecutor the U.S. Attorney’s office, first in Miami and later in Washington, D.C. In his defense, he seems to have performed his duties without any more national embarrassments. One of the individuals he prosecuted was Francisco Martin Duran on charges of trying to assassinate President Clinton.
He left what now refers to as “the real Justice Department” in 1998 to join Reed Smith. One of his clients at Reed Smith was the widow of Andrew Breitbart, the founder of Breitbart News, which is interesting given his current representation of the (alleged) financier of the Russian troll farm.
As for the Concord case, the troll farm lawyer got his revenge on the press when he trolled reporters with another filing that made a cryptic reference to a nude selfie in Mueller’s possession.