University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

From the 2009 News Archive
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Jan. 29 Panel: "Ethical Issues in Being a Government Lawyer"

When you represent the government who is your client? The agency? The agency head? The agency official who is sued? The in-house counsel for the agency who has retained you? The public? Often government lawyers represent more than one client. How are conflicts of interest identified and resolved? Who resolves them?

To help clarify these issues and lend insight for students interested in public service careers, the Professional and Diversity Committee will present a panel discussion entitled: "Ethical Issues in Being a Government Lawyer: Who's the Client?" on Jan. 29 from 4-6 p.m. in the Ceremonial Courtroom. A reception will follow.

Professor Sherrilyn Ifill will moderate the discussion. Panelists include Sharon Eubanks, now Senior Counsel at Holland & Knight, the chief (and winning) litigator for the United States in the Dept. of Justice's case against Phillip Morris -- the largest RICO civil enforcement case ever filed. A 22-year veteran at the DOJ, she asserted that she had been pressured by political appointees in the Administration to change her strategy in order to weaken her case against the tobacco company, including pressure to have key witnesses change their testimony.

Joe Rich, now Special Counsel at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, was Chief of the Voting Section of the Department of Justice and an attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for 20 years, where he litigated hundreds of cases. He resigned from the Department in 2005 charging that he too, was pressured to interpret cases and issue decisions that were contrary to law, and to the charge of the Department.

Panelists' Biographies

Sherrilyn Ifill – Moderator
Professor of Law
University of Maryland School of Law

Professor Ifill is nationally recognized as an advocate in the areas of civil rights, voting rights, judicial diversity and judicial decision-making. She writes about the importance of judicial diversity and impartiality in judicial decision-making. Her articles about race, judging and judicial selection have led to Professor Ifill's recognition as an expert on these subjects. Prior to joining the Faculty in 1993, Professor Ifill served as an Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. in New York, where she litigated many high profile voting rights cases. As a voting rights expert, Professor Ifill appeared regularly as the election expert on BET News with Ed Gordon during the contested November 2000 presidential election, and continues to serve as a political and election analyst on local television and radio programs.

Joe Rich
Special Counsel for Federal Agencies and Litigation
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

In 2005, Joe Rich joined the Lawyers' Committee where he served as director of the Fair Housing and Community Development Project from 2005 through 2007. The Lawyers' Committee - a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy - seeks equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of housing, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice. During his tenure with the Lawyers' Committee, Mr. Rich has focused on fair housing litigation and legal assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina on a variety of housing issues. Before joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Mr. Rich spent his entire legal career in the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, where he litigated and supervised hundreds of civil rights cases.

Sharon Eubanks
Senior Counsel
Holland & Knight

Prior to becoming Senior Counsel in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C. office where she is a member of the Community Services Team, Ms. Eubanks worked for the Department of Justice for 22 years. From 2000-2005, Ms. Eubanks served as the Director of the Tobacco Litigation Team. In that role she served as lead counsel for the largest civil RICO enforcement action ever filed, United States v. Philip Morris, et al., in which the federal district court found the defendants liable for RICO violations and ordered injunctive relief. Ms. Eubanks is a frequent speaker and panelist on issues of litigation, evidence, and procedure.

Donna Hill Staton

Ms. Staton is a good friend to the university and has served as an adjunct faculty member as recently as last year. After serving as an associate and then litigation partner with the law firm of Piper & Marbury (now DLA Piper), Ms. Staton was appointed by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening to serve on the Circuit Court for Howard County. With that appointment, she became the first African American Circuit Court judge in Howard County history. After leaving the bench, she again made history when she was named Maryland's first African American female Deputy Attorney General.

Michael Greenberger
Law School Professor and
Director, Center for Health and Homeland Security University of Maryland

As the Director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security, Professor Greenberger works on a broad range of homeland security and emergency response issues for federal, state and local governmental agencies, as well as medical researchers. He was a partner for over 20 years in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Shea & Gardner, where he served as lead litigation counsel before courts of law nationwide, including the United States Supreme Court. In 1997, Professor Greenberger left private practice to become the Director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In that capacity, he was responsible for supervising exchange traded futures and derivatives and he remains a highly sought after expert in this area. In 1999, Professor Greenberger began service as Counselor to the United States Attorney General, and then became the Justice Department's Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General. In the latter capacity, Professor Greenberger assisted the United States Attorney General and Associate Attorney General in supervising the work of the Justice Department’s Civil, Civil Rights, Environmental, Antitrust, and Tax Divisions.

Jamie Smith on Jan. 16, 2009

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Copyright © 2018, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved