Holder Names Civil Rights Division Chief: Business of Law

Vanita Gupta has been picked as acting U.S. assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Gupta is deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and the director of its Center for Justice. She is President Barack Obama’s choice to become the permanent head of the division, according to the Washington Post.

“Even as she has done trailblazing work as a civil rights lawyer, Vanita is also known as a unifier and consensus builder,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “She has a knack for bridging differences and building coalitions to drive progress.”

Gupta received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and graduated from the New York University School of Law.

The Civil Rights Division oversees enforcement areas including voting rights. Earlier this year the Senate blocked Obama’s previous nominee for the post, Debo P. Adegbile, who later joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP as a partner.

Molly Moran has served as the acting head of the division. Holder said that she will become principal deputy associate attorney general.

In the News

Harvard Law Professors Condemn Campus Sexual-Assault Policy

A group of Harvard Law School professors condemned the university’s new sexual-misconduct policy, saying it violates the rights of the accused and “departs dramatically” from current law.

Harvard’s procedures for deciding cases “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process, are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation,” the 28 professors said in an open letter published late Tuesday on the Boston Globe website. “We find the new sexual-harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.”

In July, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Harvard established an Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution that will use investigators to look into sexual assault, stalking, harassment and other misconduct.

The school adopted the U.S. Education Department’s guidance, saying schools should use the “preponderance of evidence” standard in deciding cases. That means an allegation is more likely to be found true than if “clear and convincing evidence” or “evidence beyond a reasonable doubt” -- the standard in criminal trials -- were required.

Harvard has required that those deciding cases be “sufficiently persuaded,” according to the Harvard Crimson.

The faculty members, including emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz, said the policy should be retracted because it denies the accused access to legal counsel, knowledge of the accusations and the right to question witnesses, potentially exposing them to “unfair and inappropriate discipline.” It also holds one party more culpable when both are impaired by alcohol or drug use.

“The university is confident that the policy and procedures meet their promise of a thoughtful, fair and consistent approach to these profoundly complex and sensitive situations,” Jeff Neal, a Harvard spokesman, said in a statement. “Not every member of the community will agree with every aspect of the new approach. This type of discussion is fundamental to any vibrant academic community.”

Dozens of colleges across the country, including Harvard Law School and the university’s undergraduate college, are under investigation for alleged violations of Title IX, the law that prohibits gender discrimination in education.

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Martoma’s Wife Seeks to Block U.S. Seizure of Home, Money

The wife of insider-trader Mathew Martoma sought to block the government from seizing her share of the couple’s assets, including their Florida home and bank accounts, after his conviction in the most lucrative scheme in U.S. history.

Martoma, a former SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, was sentenced last month to nine years in prison and ordered to forfeit $9.4 million, including the family’s Boca Raton home and more than $4 million held in three accounts.

Rosemary Martoma yesterday asked a judge in Manhattan federal court to set a hearing so she can prove she has a joint interest in assets prosecutors can’t seize. She’s a former practicing pediatrician who quit when the first of the Martomas’ three children was born in 2005.

Spouses of white-collar felons often try to claim ownership in marital assets to prevent them from being forfeited to the government. Under a 2009 agreement with prosecutors, Ruth Madoff, the wife of Bernard Madoff, was permitted to shield $2.5 million after a judge ordered her husband to forfeit $170.8 billion.

The case is U.S. v. Martoma, 12-cr-00973, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Law Firm Moves

Manatt Hires Three IP Lawyers From Dickstein Shapiro

Three intellectual property partners are joining Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP from Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

Robert W. Dickerson Jr. and Lawrence R. LaPorte will work in the firm’s Los Angeles office, and Yasser M. El-Gamal will practice in the firm’s Orange County, California, office.

Dickerson, who had been co-leader of Dickstein’s intellectual-property practice, joins as chair of Manatt’s IP practice. He focuses on patent, trademark, copyright, franchise and trade-secret cases, and represents startups as well as large companies.

LaPorte represents technology clients in areas such as software, automotive, aviation, solar power, semiconductors and biotechnology in patent, trademark, trade secret, antitrust, unfair competition and contract cases.

El-Gamal also specializes in patent, trademark, trade-secret and copyright matters. He counsels clients on IP litigation and patent and trademark prosecution in the U.S. and abroad, as well as other IP matters.

In a statement, William T. Quicksilver, Manatt’s chief executive officer and managing partner, said, “This group expands our capabilities in patent matters and broadens our intellectual-property and litigation-service offerings. Their impressive technical backgrounds complement our significant industry practices.”

Vinson & Elkins Adds Capital Markets Partner from Bracewell

Michael Telle, a capital markets attorney, is joining the Houston office of Vinson & Elkins LLP as a partner.

Telle was a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, where he was head of the firm’s capital markets group. He focuses on capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, securities law compliance and corporate governance matters, and specializes in advising clients in the energy industry, the firms said in a statement.

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