(July 17, 2012, Washington, D.C.) Eric A. Dubelier’s pro bono representation of retired Secret Service agent R. Patrick Caldwell has earned the Reed Smith partner a well-deserved place among the National Law Journal/Legal Times’ 2012 "Champions."
The prestigious recognition, now in its fifth year, honors Washington, D.C. lawyers who have upheld the legal profession’s core values through public service, pro bono efforts and advocacy for civil liberties.
"Patrick Caldwell’s defense was a complex, lengthy matter, which utilized Eric’s well-honed litigation skills, as well as engaged his considerable interest in, and abiding commitment to, justice and fair play," said Gregory B. Jordan, Reed Smith’s Global Managing Partner. "We are gratified that the National Law Journal recognized the importance of this case and Eric’s central role in ensuring that Patrick received the best representation possible."
Caldwell was indicted and jailed by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of the "Africa Sting" operation that resulted in the indictment of 22 executives accused of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2008. A Vietnam War hero, he had recently retired from the Secret Service and taken a leadership position at a U.S. corporation manufacturing body armor, when he was swept up by the DOJ in an operation federal agents claimed targeted companies that were bribing foreign officials to gain orders for their companies.
A former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Southern District of Florida, Dubelier took on the case, knowing the significant commitment of time and resources Caldwell’s representation would require. Getting a green light from his colleagues at Reed Smith who committed to ensuring that his existing clients would continue to receive the same excellent service to which they were accustomed during his representation of Caldwell, Dubelier received approval from Reed Smith to handle Caldwell’s defense entirely on a pro bono basis.
Dubelier developed a demanding schedule and routine that allowed him to represent Caldwell while providing ongoing legal advice and services to other clients during the trial, which began in late 2011. Up at 3 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, he prepared for the trial at home or in his office until 9 a.m. Some mornings he handled scheduled calls with other clients. Court began at 10 a.m. and continued until a break from 1 p.m. until 2:15 p.m., which Dubelier used to make calls and handle matters for other clients. Back in the courtroom after the break, Dubelier’s trial proceedings usually continued until 6 p.m., including motions on arguments and other matters. At 6 p.m., Dubelier went home, started preparations for the next day in court before going to bed, and arose the next morning to start the process again. His evenings, Fridays and weekends were reserved for both trial preparation and handling other client calls and meetings.
This grinding schedule, which Dubelier initially expected to conclude by Thanksgiving 2011, was maintained into January 2012. His argument on Caldwell’s behalf hinged on the extent and severity of the former agent’s hearing loss and his inability to understand what the FBI undercover agents said during the sting operation. In a move uncommon in criminal trials, Dubelier had Caldwell testify in his own defense.
The trial judge threw out the conspiracy charges against Caldwell and other defendants in mid-January. On January 20, the jury acquitted him of all remaining charges. Of the 22 defendants originally indicted, the government obtained no convictions.
"I am honored to be recognized for my work on Patrick’s behalf," said Mr. Dubelier. "His was the kind of case that any lawyer should be proud to tackle, where an honorable, innocent person is caught up in a legal quagmire they do not have the financial resources from which to extract themselves. I am grateful for the support of Reed Smith and my colleagues at the firm, which was instrumental in obtaining the best possible outcome in this case."
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