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    February 4, 2009  
 
 
Patton Boggs;
Katten;
Pillsbury

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Since August, a team of Patton Boggs lawyers lead by Tommy Boggs and Joe Brand (below) has been applying international pressure for the release of American lawyer Emanuel Zeltser, who has been detained by the Belarussian KGB and subjected to torture. A James Bond tale isn’t as troubling as this real-life case.

 

In a January 8 complaint to the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Patton Boggs details Zeltser’s inhumane treatment and declares him at risk of dying if he doesn’t receive heart surgery. The facts sound like a spy novel: before his detention in March, Zeltser, a New Yorker who is GC to the American Russian Law Institute, was having a cup of coffee in London. His next memory: waking up on a plane to a KGB prison in Minsk, where he was arrested on charges of carrying false travel documents, possession of illegal drugs (his prescribed meds), and later, commercial espionage.

 

In August, Zeltser was convicted of all but the drug charge in a closed-door trial. The Patton Boggs crew—Joe, Kristen Jarvis Johnson, and Scott Thompson—took on Zeltser’s cause at the request of his brother, Mark Zeltser, a noted concert pianist who has played with Yo-Yo-Ma (presumably live). Mark said his brother’s arrest was orchestrated by a Russian oligarch who had a dispute over an inheritance with one of Emanuel’s clients.

 

Patton Boggs is now applying a full-court press with NGOs, Congress, and the UN, to increase the “pressure points” for Zeltser’s release. Working the Executive branch and Hill with Scott is Darryl Nirenberg, who interrupted his call long enough to tell us that State has gotten behind the effort; a dozen Congressmen recently called for Zeltser’s release in a letter to Belarusian President Lukashenko.


Meet the New Partners: Patton Boggs
 

Patton Boggs also added three new partners to its DC ranks this year: Ben Wood (litigation, appellate, and FEC work), Amy Chasanov (environmental), and Robert Tompkins (government contracts). Ben tells us he just filed an amicus for the Cato Institute in a Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. FEC, over Hillary: The Movie. The First Amendment question: whether TV ads for the documentary, which features Ann Coulter and is critical of Hillary (redundant, we know) were properly subject to FEC donor disclosure rules.


Bartending Barristers

 

Last week, Katten’s women’s leadership forum tackled an issue that all lawyers should take seriously: how to make good drinks. They met with clients, friends (and even Katten men) at Georgetown’s Mie N Yu for a bartending class, where the amateur mixologists learned to pour exotic cocktails like the Taj-Mojito. Above, Cheryl Masri of Knock Out Abuse Against Women, Katten’s Rori Malech and Eric Kuwana, Kristin Robinson of the National Women's Law Center, and Amra Fazlic.


Good Works
 

Since April, Pillsbury has lent transactional real estate attorney Soha Mody, right, full time to the Adams Morgan-based Spanish Education Development Center as its interim executive director, helping prepare its move to a far bigger and state-of-the-art new HQ in Petworth, where its language and training programs will serve 150 infants and children and over 500 adults. The Washington real estate community, including lawyers from Arnold & Porter and DLA, came together to contribute extensive services and cold cash to the 36-year old institution. Soha, here with project manager Sarah Hubbard at the building’s dedication this week, helped obtain government licenses, tenant improvements, and funding.   

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