Legal Ethics

Eighth Annual Rosenkranz Debate - RESOLVED: The Constitution is Designed for a Moral and Religious People and It's Wholly Unsuited for the Government of Any Other - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Robert P. George, John O. McGinnis, William H. Pryor Jr., Eugene B. Meyer November 19, 2015

The Eighth Annual Rosenkranz Debate was held on November 14, 2015, during The Federalist Society's 2015 National Lawyers Convention. RESOLVED: The Constitution is designed for a moral and religious people and it's wholly unsuited for the government of any other.

Eighth Annual Rosenkranz Debate
4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
State Room

  • Prof. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Prof. John O. McGinnis, George C. Dix Professor in Constitutional Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Moderator: Hon. William H. Pryor Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. Eugene B. Meyer, President, The Federalsit Society

Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Prosecutors Run Amok? - Event Audio/Video

2015 National Lawyers Convention
Alex Kozinski, John G. Malcolm, George J. Terwilliger, Darpana Sheth, Keith Blackwell, John J. Park, Jr. November 19, 2015

The Supreme Court has instructed in clear terms that the duty of the Federal prosecutor in a criminal prosecution "is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935). Yet the news pages are filled with examples of Federal prosecutorial overreach. In its term just ended, the Supreme Court reversed six of seven criminal convictions that reached it, several all involving some form of over criminalization that can lead to prosecutorial overreach. And large categories of prosecutorial overreach never reach the Supreme Court, from dozens of convictions of "insider trading" by non-insiders (now found not to be a crime by the Second Circuit); to civil forfeitures of property of legitimate small businesses never charged with a crime; to multi-billion dollar settlements of the thinnest of charges with large banks, pharmaceutical companies, and individuals that cannot take any risk of a criminal conviction; to what one jurist has described as an “epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land." 

The panel will explore whether prosecutorial overreach has become epidemic. It will also explore potential remedies ranging from reducing the number of crimes, to sentencing reform, plea bargain reform, civil forfeiture reform, and more. Finally, it will ask who should take action to control prosecutorial overreach? Should it be the state bars? Should the courts be more aggressive? Or, is the task primarily one for Congress? If so, what are the most promising avenues of reform?

Professional Responsibility: Prosecutors Run Amok?
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Chinese Room

  • Hon. Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • Mr. John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
  • Hon. George J. Terwilliger III, Partner, McGuireWoods LLP
  • Ms. Darpana M. Sheth, Constitutional Litigator, Institute for Justice
  • Moderator: Hon. Keith R. Blackwell, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia
  • Introduction: Mr. John J. Park, Jr., Of Counsel, Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP

The Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Lawyers and Unsympathetic Clients - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Gene C. Schaerr, Sarah L. Wilson October 09, 2015

In life, we are often judged by the company we keep. But is that fair when it comes to judging a lawyer by the clients he represents? Does it matter whether the attorney is so successful that she has her choice of clients, an abundance of whom are not unsympathetic or controversial, and can thrive professionally even if not representing unsympathetic clients? Can a lawyer reasonably argue that our legal system requires representation, that even the least sympathetic among us deserve their day in court, which implicitly means solid legal representation?


  • Gene C. Schaerr, Principal, Schaerr Law Group
  • Hon. Sarah L. Wilson, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP

“The Dog Ate My Emails!”: Document Retention Policies, Litigation Holds, and Legal Ethics - Event Video

2014 National Lawyers Convention
Jamie Brown, Daniel Z. Epstein, Patrick Oot, Victoria A. Redgrave, Julie Goldsmith Reiser, Jerry E. Smith, John J. Park, Jr. November 17, 2014

Once upon a time, corporations, government departments, and other entities made their own decisions about how long to retain documents created or received in the course of business.  Today, document retention policies can present difficult issues for the entities, for the lawyers who advise them, and for the courts that are called on to decide the consequences when documents are no longer available.  Particularly in the electronic age, where computers die, people delete their emails, and backups are not always reliable, document retention cannot be counted on.  What are an attorney’s obligations?  Should a lawyer bringing suit write to the other side and warn that entity not to engage in normal document destruction and to back up particularly important data?  Does the company being sued have to comply?  These are some of the questions that the panel will address.

In-house lawyers may face particular difficulties.  Does the lawyer represent only the institution, or does the lawyer also have obligations to the employees? Should the lawyer advise the employees to censor themselves in emails sent via the employer’s email system?  Should employees be encouraged to communicate about work through their personal email instead?  How does an in-house lawyer handle the conflicts between representing individuals who do not want to disclose discoverable emails for emails unrelated to ongoing litigation (perhaps because they made impolitic comments about their supervisors)?

Finally, the panel will discuss if there are special obligations for counsel representing government entities.  Government records have a unique status.  They document the conduct of public business and are necessary for transparency and, more formally, are subject to retention and preservation requirements.  Should lawyers advise government clients that backups cannot be destroyed for years, contrary to current IRS policy?  Should lawyers inform government employees that their personal emails, if discussing issues related to their work, may also be discoverable?  How does the government’s duty of transparency to the public affect its disclosure obligations and the lawyer’s corresponding obligations to her client?

The Federalist Society's Professional Responsibility & Legal Education Practice Group presented this panel on "'The Dog Ate My Emails!': Document Retention Policies, Litigation Holds, and Legal Ethics on Saturday, November 15, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.


  • Ms. Jamie Brown, Global eDiscovery Counsel, UBS AG, and former Associate General Counsel, Commodities Futures Trading Commission
  • Mr. Daniel Epstein, Executive Director, Cause of Action
  • Mr. Patrick Oot, Partner, Shook Hardy & Bacon L.L.P., and former Senior Special Counsel for Electronic Discovery Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Mrs. Victoria A. Redgrave, Managing Partner, Redgrave LLP
  • Ms. Julie Goldsmith Reiser, Partner, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC
  • Moderator: Hon. Jerry Smith, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • Introduction: Jack J. Park Jr., Of Counsel, Strickland Brockington Lewis LLP; and Chairman, Professional Responsibility & Legal Education Practice Group

Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC

Law of the Jungle: Chevron in the Amazon - Podcast

Professional Responsibility & Legal Education and Litigation Practice Groups Podcast
Paul M. Barrett, John J. Park, Jr. September 23, 2014

Steven Donziger, a self-styled social activist and Harvard educated lawyer, signed on to a budding class action lawsuit against multinational Texaco (which later merged with Chevron to become the third-largest corporation in America). The suit sought reparations for the Ecuadorian peasants and tribes people whose lives were affected by decades of oil production near their villages and fields. During twenty years of legal hostilities in federal courts in Manhattan and remote provincial tribunals in the Ecuadorian jungle, Mr. Donziger and Chevron’s lawyers followed fierce no-holds-barred rules. Mr. Donziger proved himself adept at influencing the media, Hollywood, and public opinion. He cajoled and coerced Ecuadorian judges on the theory that his noble ends justified any means of persuasion. And in the end, he won a $19 billion judgment against Chevon – the biggest environmental damages award in history. But the company refused to surrender or compromise. Instead, Chevron targeted Mr. Donziger personally, and its counter-attack revealed evidence of his politicking and manipulation of evidence. Suddenly the verdict, and decades of Mr. Donziger’s single-minded pursuit of the case, began to unravel.