Giving Insight Into Wolfowitz’s World
Law professor writes biography about Baghdad and beyond
It took two years for Professor Emeritus Lewis D. Solomon to research the life and career of Paul Wolfowitz. But with impeccable timing, the unauthorized biography went to bookshelves almost a month after a romantic scandal severely tainted the career of the embattled former World Bank president.
For Solomon, at least, it was a lucky break.
“I had wanted to do a book on foreign policy or national security and narrowed it down to Wolfowitz several years ago,” he says. By the end, “It was just fortuitous.”
In Paul D. Wolfowitz: Visionary Intellectual, Policymaker, and Strategist (Praeger Security International, 2007), Solomon takes an in-depth look at Wolfowitz’s personal and intellectual roots that led him to some of the most powerful positions in post-Cold War policy.
As deputy secretary of defense for four years, a longtime State Department hand, and a former International Studies dean at Johns Hopkins, Wolfowitz stood out for his neo-conservative, uncompromising, and controversial decisions, Solomon writes.
But few have drawn ire like the war in Iraq. A majority of the book focuses on Wolfowitz’s role as one of the architects of the Bush Doctrine and his idealistic views of setting up a democratic society in a region full of turmoil.
Solomon says the biography “seeks to go beyond the overabundance of negative media stories” about Wolfowitz, hinting that he has been unjustly criticized.
“When war does not go well, those who did not like the initial invasion…come out of the woodwork and exact their revenge,” Solomon says. “Wolfowitz sat as their sacrificial pawn.”
Solomon, who has written more than 50 books, was driven to write his first biography on Wolfowitz because foreign policy has increasingly become focused on the Middle East, he says. Coincidentally, he and Wolfowitz also have the same alma mater. In the book, Solomon says, he describes the 1960s-era atmosphere of Cornell University to “give some flavor” and perspective about Wolfowitz’s early influences, especially as a resident at the elite intellectual hothouse of the Telluride Association (Wolfowitz ultimately declined to be interviewed for the book). Overall, Solomon says he delved into research because he was simply fascinated by the person Wolfowitz had become.
“Unlike a lot of people in public positions, he intrigued me because he rose to greater and greater prominence not because of his family or wealth but because of merit,” he says.
As current events crept into the publication’s timing, a postscript was added on the World Bank situation, when then-president Wolfowitz had come under fire for the special professional arrangements he made for his romantic interest and fellow World Bank employee, Shaha Ali Riza. While Solomon laid out the difficulties Wolfowitz faced in mending those relationships, the book was printed just before Wolfowitz resigned. On the Praeger publishing Web site, Solomon has continued his thoughts on the topic, writing that outside factors, such as the war and foes of the anti-corruption drive at the World Bank, influenced Wolfowitz’s ouster.
“If Iraq were stable,” Solomon says, “the whole brouhaha about the romantic interest would have passed….What I could see, in good faith, he tried to comply with what the ethics committee told him to do. That fact has disappeared in the commentary,” Solomon adds.
As a professor at the Law School since 1977, Solomon has immersed himself in the areas of corporate and securities law, taxation, business and estate planning, and policy-making. Today he is the Van Vleck Research Professor of Law.
In his work outside of GW, Solomon is an ordained rabbi and interfaith minister. His religious values have led him to explore topics such as illness and death, healing, and spirituality in several of his books. His other book published in the past year, The Quest for Human Longevity: Science, Business, and Public Policy (Transaction Publishers, 2006), deals with the interface of technology and business. He and his wife, Janet Stern Solomon, an adjunct professor at GW’s business school, are currently busy working on their next book, which is about raising children, he says.
While Solomon has taught at universities in Australia and other parts of the nation, he says GW and Washington satisfy his intellectual cravings.
“I’ve long been interested in the analysis of post-Cold War policies,” he says. “As far as research support and library sources, this is a good place to be.”
Oral Advocacy Takes Center Stage
Students shine in competitions around the world
Magin Puig-Monsen, LLM ’07, and David “D.J.” Western, LLM ’07, won awards for the best brief and best team at the North American Regional Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Moot Court Competition this spring. Western also won the best oralist award. The team will compete in the world championship in India in October.
David “D.J.” Western and Magin Puig-Monsen won every possible award at the North American Regional Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Moot Court Competition, including best oralist (Western), best brief, and best team. The next stop is the world championship in Hyderabad, India, during the first week of October. GW has twice won this competition, most recently two years ago. The team is a joint effort between the Law School and the Space Policy Institute at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs. David Johnson, senior assistant dean for student affairs and director of advocacy programs at the Law School, recruits the team, which is coached by Henry Hertzfeld, research professor at the Center for International Science and Technology Policy/Space Policy Institute in the Elliott School.
GW Law students also achieved success in other competitions:
• GW sent two teams to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court Regional at the UCLA School of Law. James Youngs and Brian Willis won best brief for the government side. Patrick Perriello won best oral advocate.
Brian Willis (left) and James Youngs won best brief for the government side of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Constance Baker Motley National Moot Court Regional at the UCLA School of Law.
• Jamie Long and Laura Kelly won best brief-second place at the ABA’s National Appellate Advocacy Competition for the Washington, D.C., region.
• Tiffany Archer and Joseph Johnson were semifinalists in the Herbert Wechsler National Criminal Law Moot Court Competition on March 24 in Buffalo, N.Y. They also won the third best brief award.
• Eric Jeschke and Amanda Spratley won the internal section of the Giles Rich Intellectual Property Moot Court Competition and then advanced to the semifinals of the regionals.
• Carly Nuzbach won best oralist-honorable mention at the Willem Vis International Commercial Arbitration Competition in Vienna, Austria. This honor places her in the top 5 percent of all students participating in the 180-team competition, which included schools from around the globe. The other team members were Brianna Benfield, Erica Ruddy, and Alex Kaplan. The team is coached by Professor Andy Spanogle and Assistant Dean David Johnson.
• Deborah Attwood was a semifinalist in the Animal Law Legislative Drafting and Lobbying Competition.
LAW Co-President Lauren Jordana Schlanger; 2007 Belva Lockwood Award Recipient Mary Helen Sears, JD ’60; and Senior Associate Dean Steven Schooner, LLM ’89
Belva Lockwood Luncheon and Award Reception
On March 23, the Law Association for Women and The George Washington Law Alumni Association held the annual Belva Lockwood Award Luncheon, which this year honored Mary Helen Sears, JD ’60. Belva Lockwood was the Law School’s first female graduate and was a pioneer in the legal field.
Work Hard, Play Hard
GW Law School students, faculty members, and staff members joined together to mingle and be merry during the annual Dean’s Jeans Day on April 10. When they weren’t munching on barbeque or enjoying the spring weather, the more adventurous tested their skills in jousting, bungee-rope racing, and sumo wrestling.
Reconstructing the Craft of Felix Solomon Cohen
Associate professor analyzes origins of legal pluralism in new book
As an Israeli graduate student studying American legal history, Dalia Tsuk Mitchell saw early 20th-century lawyer and legal scholar Felix Solomon Cohen as a visionary. Today, she shares his vision in her debut book, Architect of Justice: Felix S. Cohen and the Founding of American Legal Pluralism (Cornell University Press, 2007).
Tsuk Mitchell, an associate professor of law at GW, draws on Cohen’s scholarship and legal work, as well as his personal story, to construct the history of legal pluralism and its effect on modern American legal thought. She argues that Cohen’s dedication to American Indians and his focus on group autonomy and power continues to offer critical insights into some of the most important discussions of minority rights today.
“Cohen’s work and scholarship were influenced by and helped shape arguments about the place of political, social, and cultural groups within American society,” she says.
The book centers on Cohen’s work in the solicitor’s office of the Department of Interior during the 1930s and 1940s, where he made significant efforts to grant American Indians more control over their affairs. Touching on the personal side, Tsuk Mitchell also highlights Cohen’s heritage as the son of Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century and the perspectives he gained from trying to
“fit in” in American society. He found his sense of belonging, Tsuk Mitchell writes, in legal pluralism—the theory that groups and other associations were political, social, and cultural centers in American life.
“The diversity of groups that characterized American society became for Cohen not only a means of reconciling the tensions created by relativism or a source of a comforting sense of belonging but also an explanation for the strength of American democratic traditions and institutions,” she writes.
His extensive work with American Indians, she adds, was meant to create a model for other minority groups.
“For Cohen, law was a tool for remedying historical wrongs” against diverse groups, she explains.
Cohen has fascinated Tsuk Mitchell from the start, she says.
As a doctoral student at Yale University, Tsuk Mitchell needed help in selecting a topic for her Western Americana seminar research paper. Her professor’s advice, she says, was to “try to figure out how a Jewish guy from New York became the guru of federal Indian law.”
Tsuk Mitchell continued to research Cohen for her Doctor of Juridical Science dissertation at Harvard University and kept going for the construction of the 368-page book.
For Tsuk Mitchell, there was a unique attraction.
“Cohen’s road into federal Indian law,” she writes, “seemed to resonate with my own path into American legal history.”
Tsuk Mitchell, who received her Bachelor of Law degree at Tel Aviv University, joined the GW faculty in 2004.
Leaders in Public Interest
Two of GW Law’s most beloved faculty members retire this summer after dedicating a collective eight decades to the education of our students.
Professor James E. Starrs
This photo of Professor James Starrs was taken by the author in 1995.
Professor Starrs arrived at GW Law in 1964 to teach property and criminal law. Eight months later he was spending the summer in Mississippi defending incarcerated juveniles who had been arrested during civil rights demonstrations.
“The conditions were deplorable,” Starrs says. “There were hundreds of children, many ill and packed into an unhealthy facility. It was a challenge to get them released, especially since many were from out of state and their parents were also locked up at the time.”
The next summer, Starrs worked in Selma, Ala., as a troubleshooter under the Presidential Committee for Civil Rights. Starrs says he was often harassed—including at gunpoint.
Starrs extended his interest in public service to student legal aid work at GW Law in the mid-to-late 1960s, working primarily with tenant unions on D.C. landlord-tenant issues.
Starrs always enjoyed class field trips. He started by taking his property class students to look up property titles in Madison County, Va. While teaching criminal law classes, Starrs took students to Alderson Federal Women’s Prison.
“These were practical orientations,” Starrs’ says. “The students got their hands dirty by doing fieldwork, and we would bring those lessons back to the classroom.”
This was just the beginning of Starrs getting his students dirty—literally. In the 1970s, he began to get involved in legal forensics issues of criminal law. It was not long before he became one of the most well-known forensics experts in the country, taking on cases of the famous and nameless alike that often included exhumations and re-autopsies. He always brought students along for the ride.
Just a few of the more famous cases Starrs has directed or participated in over the years include the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Sacco and Vanzetti robbery-murders, the Alfred Packer cannibalism case, the assassination of Sen. Huey Long, the hatchet murders of the Bordens, the CIA LSD-related death of Frank Olson, the identification of Jesse James, a D.C. medical examiner’s inquiry into the death of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and the death of Meriwether Lewis. Most recently, he was asked to provide his legal and forensic expertise to a possible exhumation of escape artist Harry Houdini.
In the spirit of public service, Starrs was rarely ever paid for his forensic work. Often, he wasn’t even compensated for his team’s expenses and would pay those costs himself.
Starrs will remain in his teaching position at GW’s Department of Forensic Sciences and will continue his more than 30 years as an editor and writer for Scientific Sleuthing Review.
Professor Eric Scott Sirulnik
Professor Eric Sirulnik has been with GW’s legal clinics since the 1970s.
Professor Sirulnik’s public interest career began in Suffolk County, Mass., while he was a law student at Boston University in 1967.
“My experience working with the Roxbury prosecutor’s office in a place where there were no defender’s programs and virtually no civil representation for the poor is what convinced me to become a defense attorney,” Sirulnik says.
After graduation, Sirulnik joined Volunteers in Service to America, a program created in 1964 by Lyndon Johnson’s Economic Opportunity Act.
VISTA brought Sirulnik to Washington, D.C., in 1968. He arrived in August, just a few months after the deadly April riots sparked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “On my first night in D.C., I listened to the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago on my portable radio and the almost constant sound of breaking glass outside my window. This is how I began my career as a VISTA lawyer,” he says.
For the next year and a half, Sirulnik spent his time at VISTA working for Neighborhood Legal Services, a program of the Urban Law Institute, which was part of GW Law at the time. Sirulnik got a taste of various ways to provide legal counsel to the poor, from working on community economic development projects to representing several tenants’ councils.
Sirulnik continued working at the Urban Law Institute as an assistant director for curriculum development. He worked on such projects as rural development, particularly for American Indians on reservations. In addition, Sirulnik spent two days a week taking LLM classes at GW Law.
In 1970, The Urban Law Institute broke off from GW Law and formed Antioch Law School (which later formed the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia).
GW Professors Rod French and Clarence Mondale had heard of Sirulnik’s work at the Law School and asked him to teach a course in undergraduate humanities.
By 1972, Sirulnik was back at the Law School full time, heading up a reorganized clinical program and teaching torts. As a faculty member, Sirulnik utilized the clinics as a platform to continue to “fight for the underdog.” Later Sirulnik also taught various criminal law and trial skills classes and, along with Professor Peter Meyers, created an innovative course on drugs and the law that combines practical skills training with an exploration of federal drug policy and substantive law.
For the next 30 years, the clinical program grew and became better funded and more prominent. Sirulnik hired several Law School graduates and other attorneys to fill staff attorney and faculty openings. What started out in 1972 as an office in Bacon Hall with Sirulnik, a Job Corps secretary, and three students is now the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics with a newly endowed chair, a dozen clinical faculty members and other professors running clinics and programs, a strong staff, and hundreds of students each year.
Sirulnik, who is transitioning to GW Law professor emeritus, plans to continue his association with the Law School. He hopes to come back to guest lecture and to assist with fund raising and alumni opportunities.
Richard D. Heideman, JD ’72 (president, The George Washington Law Alumni Association), speaks at GW Law Day: Seeking Justice.
GW Law Day: Seeking Justice
On April 20, GW Law alumni met for a day of reflection and learning at GW Law Day: Seeking Justice. Beginning the day at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, participants listened to a panel discussion on the Nuremburg Trials, the International Tracing Service, and various other legal issues related to World War II crimes. Back at the Law School for lunch, keynote speaker Debra Brown Steinberg, ABA Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year, presented “Advocacy, Justice, and Humanitarianism.” The afternoon concluded with the inaugural lecture of the James F. Humphreys Complex Litigation Lecture Series given by Professor Roger Trangsrud
For a Good Cause
(Left) Associate Dean Steven Schooner auctions off Professor Peter J. Smith for an outing to a Nationals baseball game.
Each spring, GW’s Equal Justice Foundation holds an auction to raise money for students who work in public interest. This year’s theme was “Pirates of the Potomac.” Joining EJF students in auctioneering duties were pirate Professors Gregory Maggs, Steve Schooner, Jonathan Turley, Eric Sirulnik, and Mary Cheh. Lucky bidders won BAR/BRI course vouchers, dinners with professors, and celebrity-signed memorabilia.
The spring auction is the EJF’s largest event of the year as well as one of the most-well-attended social events at GW Law.