The Association of U S West Retirees



Former Qwest CEO's attorney has made winning a habit
By Sara Burnett
Rocky Mountain News
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It was about seven minutes into Maureen Mahoney's 2003 argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the University of Michigan that Justice John Paul Stevens slipped, just for a moment.

Posing a question, Stevens referred to the Washington, D.C.-based attorney as simply "Maureen."

Using first names is out of character in any federal court, much less the highest court in the land, where attorneys are normally addressed as "Mr." or "Ms.," and justices as "Your Honor."

But Stevens -- or any other justice, for that matter -- could be forgiven for the familiarity.

Mahoney has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court 18 times since 1988, coming out on the winning side in all but two of those cases.

She has represented the U.S. House of Representatives, the government of Saudi Arabia, accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP and Rockwell International, the company that ran the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant.

She is among the country's most respected appellate attorneys, and her name was on a short list in 2005 to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Today, Mahoney will argue at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio was wrongly convicted of 19 counts of insider trading.

One lawyer who recently went up against her -- and lost -- said observers will see a lawyer whose style is ideal for appellate arguments.

Mahoney is succinct, accurate and handles pressure well, said Portland, Ore., lawyer Scott Shorr, who faced the Indiana native in January.  Those skills are even more important in proceedings such as today's, in which each side will get only 15 minutes.

"She is very competent, very professional, very polished and always well-prepared," Shorr said.

Marvin Krislov, now president of Oberlin College in Ohio, was general counsel for the University of Michigan when the law school's affirmative action policy was challenged by a white student who was denied admission.

Many people were surprised that Mahoney -- a Republican -- joined the Michigan team.  But Mahoney called it a misconception that all Republicans oppose affirmative action.

In her argument, she wasn't afraid to address weak points in the university's case, Krislov said.  But she was "dogged" in returning to and making her key arguments.

She went on to win the landmark case.

"She's very polite and to the point, but she knows the case inside and out," Krislov said, "and that makes her very persuasive." or 303-954-5343

Maureen E. Mahoney
Appellate attorney for Joe Nacchio
Partner, Latham & Watkins law firm in Washington, D.C.

* Age: 53

* Education: Law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

* Career highlights: Clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist. Deputy solicitor general under Kenneth Starr. Has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court 18 times since 1988, winning all but two of those cases.

* Of interest: Named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal.