Thursday, June 26, 2008

Local ex-AUSA shines during scandal

The Honors Program has been described as the "jewel" of the Justice Department because it used to have the brightest young lawyers in the country.

But a report was issued this week, explaining how during the Bush Administration, the Honors Program became politicized, screening out qualified applicants because they were members of organizations that appeared to be liberal (like American Constitution Society or Greenpeace) or had other items on their resumes indicating that they weren't staunch right wing Republicans.

There was one bright light, highlighted in the report -- Dan Fridman, a then-AUSA who was doing a detail at Justice in DC (in full disclosure, Dan is a friend of mine and I have blogged about him before here.). Dan was part of the committee chosen to screen applicants for interviews. Dan wanted to screen ... (take a deep breath!) ... based on merit (!!), but was told his job was to weed out the "wackos" (read: the liberals). Dan refused and continued to recommend candidates for interviews based on merit, not on ideology. The money quote of the 100+ page report:

In addition, we believe that various employees in the Department
deserve credit for raising concerns about the apparent use of political or
ideological consideration in the Honors Program and SLIP hiring
For example, Daniel Fridman deserves praise for reporting
his concerns about the process in 2006 to both his supervisor and
Elston and for avoiding the use of improper considerations in his review
of candidates for the Honors Program and SLIP
. A few DOJ political
employees also objected to the apparent use of political or ideological
considerations in the hiring process, such as Assistant Attorneys
General Peter Keisler and Eileen O’Connor, and they should be credited
for raising their concerns. Certain career employees, particularly in the
Tax Division and the Civil Division, also pressed concerns about the
hiring process. By contrast, we believe that others in the Department,
such as Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer and OARM
Director Louis DeFalaise, did not sufficiently address the complaints
about the deselections.

There's a ton more here to read. I enjoyed reading the"Fridman criteria" for receiving an interview:

To identify a subset of highly qualified candidates, we relied on
criteria that one of the Screening Committee members, Daniel Fridman,
described as an indication that the candidates were so highly qualified
that they merited just a quick check before he approved them. Fridman
said that if candidates attended a top 20 law school, were in the top
20 percent of their respective classes, or were at a school that did not
rank students, he tended to approve them automatically unless they
had a C on their transcripts.30 We refer to these criteria as the
Fridman criteria.”

Here's Keith Olbermann on the whole thing (and he mentions Dan by name):

Of course, anyone who knows Dan, knows he would do the right thing. In fact, see our post here from January 2006:

Congrats to AUSA Daniel Fridman (from this District). He has accepted a special assignment to work with the Acting Deputy U.S. Attorney General Paul McNulty (the #2 guy at DOJ in DC) on shaping the administration's criminal and civil rights policy. Those that know Dan, know that he is a good and fair prosecutor and I hope he uses the time in DC to promote his even-tempered philosophy.

Dan is now at working at Lewis Tein. Congrats to him on how he handled himself in this mess...


South Florida Lawyers said...

Indeed. Great post, thanks Dan for doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Dan is the Man. Will T and I are proud of you. But, I never would have gotten an interview under the "Fridman criteria"...that sucks.

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Anonymous said...

10:30, Dan IS the man, agreed!

BTW, Davey-boy the letters on the word verification today,
unscramble some of the words and what does it say? Newbie if you're reading this it may take you awhile.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight: I read in the New York Times yesterday that Senator Obama criticized the Supreme Court's decision not to expand the death penalty. I read today that he applauds the Court's decision that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm. Post-politics indeed.

Anonymous said...

5:57, Mr. Obama goes whichever way the wind blows.

Anonymous said...

6:31, Sir your above comment, are you bashing our next possible President? If so I leave you with these two words, Republican Ass! BTW Barack's on Larry King now! UNITE FOR CHANGE!

Anonymous said...

Does politics in the selection process explain why some AUSAs including ones who came from H or Y law school are dumber than rocks and should be home doing their laundry and reading comic books from 9-5 and not misserving the people?