Podcast: ABA Annual Meeting 2018: State Attorneys General and Federalism in the Obama/Trump Eras

An interesting podcast from the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting consisting of legal heavyweights Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, former Virginia Solicitor General William Hurd, Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin and Northwestern Law School dean Dan Rodriguez. And me.

Is “The Devil’s Advocate” a Great Legal Film?

At the ABA Journal, our most popular web post of all time is our “Top 25 Greatest Legal Movies” feature from 2008. I haven’t seen the stats, but apparently, it’s number one by a country mile. Kind of like how The Matrix is, far and away, the best movie in its trilogy or how Alec Baldwin is, without question, the most talented actor in his family.

So, to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our most popular feature of all time, the lead feature of this month’s issue is an updated look at the list of greatest legal movies. Some movies from the last decade to be included are Spotlight, The Post and Marshall, while movies like Legally Blonde, Primal Fear and Michael Clayton made the cut this time after missing out on the original list. Also, some movies from the original list dropped out, including Philadelphia, Presumed Innocent, Chicago, In the Name of the Father, and the Al Pacino tour-de-force And Justice for All.

All of this got me thinking about a different Pacino legal drama. The Devil’s Advocate (1997) may not be remembered as his greatest film (if we’re being honest, it’s probably not even in the top half of his filmography), but it’s a fun, creative take on lawyers, law firms and the legal profession.

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Award Season

 

 

I won a Gold and Silver award at the recent ASBPE Upper Midwest Regional AZBEES Awards. Thanks to my colleagues at ABA Journal for making me look so good! 

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“Nixon in New York:” A new book looks at how a law firm stint revived his political and presidential prospects. (ABA Journal excerpt)

An excerpt of Nixon in New York that was published in the May issue of ABA Journal. Thanks to my wonderful colleagues at the Journal for running it!

Rudy (BOOK EXCERPT)

[T]here have been plenty of politicians who, at one time, called the venerated halls of Mudge “home.” In addition to [Richard] Nixon, [John] Mitchell, [Pat] Buchanan, [former NJ Governor Jim] Florio, and [former HUD Secretary Carla] Hills, several other prominent national figures have spent time at Mudge, including ex New York mayor John Lindsay, federal judge and DOJ official Harold Russell (“Ace”) Tyler Jr., former New York State Supreme Court justice William Lawless, former Dick Cheney aide I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, and Manhattan federal district judge Jed Rakoff. More recently, in 2016, Democrat Tim Canova, a former Mudge Rose associate, unsuccessfully ran for US House of Representatives in Florida. Perhaps Mudge’s most prominent politico after Nixon, however, was a New Yorker who spent almost no time at the firm.

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Anna Chennault (1925-2018) (BOOK EXCERPT)

Anna Chennault passed away on March 30, 2018 at the age of 94. The Chinese-born journalist and political power broker played a major role in Richard Nixon’s 1968 Presidential campaign. Read an excerpt about her and Nixon from my upcoming book:

On October 31, [President Lyndon] Johnson stunned the country when he announced a bombing halt, as well as upcoming peace talks in Paris between the United States and both North and South Vietnam. The maneuver wasn’t completely out of the blue—Johnson had laid down his terms for a bombing halt in June. The breakthrough had come in early October when the North Vietnamese dropped its objection to South Vietnam’s participation in the proposed peace talks. Johnson now had his chance to end the war on his own terms and salvage his place in history in one fell swoop. There were still some significant hurdles to be cleared before there was any chance of an actual peace treaty, but the news buoyed his spirits considerably.

The news also lifted [Vice President and 1968 Democratic nominee for President] Humphrey’s fortunes. After Johnson’s announcement, Nixon’s lead vanished almost immediately and Humphrey was now in a dead heat with the GOP nominee. Nixon was irate and convinced that Johnson was trying to steal the election at the last minute in favor of his vice president. Nixon still had the bitter taste of 1962 in his mouth when a race he thought he was winning turned against him in the closing stages as a result of a piece of Democratic foreign policy that he had little respect for. Now he had an unwelcome sense of déjà vu. Luckily for him, however, he had prepared for something like this, and this time, he had an ace in the hole.

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Nixon Mudge (BOOK EXCERPT)

Four months after his “last press conference,” Richard Nixon seemed to be making good on his vow to leave politics. A few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 1963, he had a job interview with several partners from the Wall Street law firm Mudge, Stern, Baldwin & Todd. The last time he had interviewed with a white-shoe law firm in New York, he had been a law student and, like many aspiring lawyers before and after him, he had squeezed into an interview suit he hardly ever wore and sat, nervously, in the waiting room of the managing partner’s office hoping to distinguish himself from the hundreds of competitors equally desperate for the job.

This was a different type of interview.

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The Last Press Conference (Part II) (BOOK EXCERPT)

“Now that Mr. Klein has made his statement, and now that all the members of the press are so delighted that I have lost, I’d like to make a statement of my own,” Nixon said, immediately putting the stunned reporters in attendance on notice. After asserting that he had “no complaints about the press coverage,” he then spent the next few minutes reeling off a laundry list of complaints, singling out the dominant Los Angeles newspaper, the LA Times, for treating him unfairly. Nixon angrily laid into all of the reporters present, complaining that they misrepresented him on the campaign trail and refused to accurately report what he had said. He asserted that his few flubs, including the one where he had said he was running for “governor of the United States,” had been blown out of proportion while reporters had given Brown a free ride. He also lectured them about how to do their jobs, maintaining that if they were going to back one candidate over the other, they should do it on the editorial pages rather than as part of their news coverage.

Nixon then launched into his concession speech. Except, rather than fall back on the usual vague platitudes that are standard components of almost all concession speeches, such as moving forward together and being grateful to God and family, Nixon launched into an attack on the man that had just defeated him by nearly 300,000 votes out of nearly 5.8 million cast.

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The Last Press Conference (Part I) (BOOK EXCERPT)

Richard Nixon was in a foul mood when he took to the stage inside the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton on the morning of November 7, 1962. Sometimes, it could be hard to tell how he was feeling. He was an enigma even to his friends and admirers, while his enemies—well, his enemies were so numerous and varied that, one day, he would have his own official “Enemies List” that consisted of hundreds of names yet still seemed incomplete. On this morning, though, his feelings were pretty obvious to anyone with a pulse. He was so furious that one could almost see the proverbial steam coming from his ears as feelings of bitterness and failure permeated from his pores.

Worse, he’d have to face perhaps his greatest enemy: the press. He had once been their darling, harnessing their approval and acclaim to facilitate a rapid rise through the Republican ranks to become one of the most famous politicians in the country. Now he considered the media to be an implacable foe that was largely responsible for his current predicament.

It was the day after the California gubernatorial election, and Nixon had just gotten humiliated at the polls. Only two years earlier, the two-term vice president had nearly fulfilled his lifelong ambition when he came within an eyelash of winning the presidency in one of the closest elections in American history. That race, against John F. Kennedy, had also been one of the most controversial, marred by accusations of voter fraud, ballot box stuffing, and Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago playing the part of Victor Frankenstein by resurrecting thousands of dead men to vote Democratic.

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