SOURCE: King & Spalding

King & Spalding

December 07, 2012 10:14 ET

Jeffrey Bucholtz Appointed by Supreme Court to Argue in Pending Case

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Dec 7, 2012) - King & Spalding partner Jeffrey S. Bucholtz has been appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to brief and argue a pending case, Millbrook v. United States, in support of the judgment below.

In Millbrook, the Court will consider the circumstances under which the United States can be sued for money damages for intentional torts committed by federal prison guards. The specific issue on which the Court granted certiorari is "whether 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1346(b) and 2680(h) waive the sovereign immunity of the United States for the intentional torts of prison guards when they are acting within the scope of their employment but are not exercising authority to 'execute searches, to seize evidence, or to make arrests for violations of Federal law.'" Oral argument is expected to be heard in February 2013.

Petitioner Kim Millbrook, an inmate in a federal penitentiary, filed a complaint against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging that he was sexually abused by prison guards. The FTCA waives the United States' sovereign immunity from tort liability for the conduct of federal employees under certain circumstances. For intentional torts, however, the FTCA generally preserves the government's immunity, but with an important exception known as "the law enforcement proviso" that permits suit for certain intentional torts committed by federal law enforcement officers. The key issue in Millbrook is the interpretation of the law enforcement proviso. The district court granted the government's motion for summary judgment based on sovereign immunity, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed. After the Supreme Court granted certiorari, the government changed its position and announced that it would not defend the Third Circuit's judgment. In rare instances, when the government chooses not to defend a lower court's judgment before the Supreme Court, the Court appoints an attorney to defend the judgment as amicus curiae in order to ensure a full airing of the legal issues. Bucholtz will brief and argue the case pro bono.

"I'm honored to have been selected by the Court for this role and grateful for the opportunity to assist the Court by ensuring that it has the benefit of advocacy for both sides of this issue," said Bucholtz.

Bucholtz is a partner in the National Appellate Practice in King & Spalding's Washington, DC office and the Deputy Practice Group Leader of the Litigation and Antitrust Team. He frequently represents clients in the Supreme Court and the federal and state appellate courts as well as on important legal issues in trial court litigation and government investigations. He has argued over 25 appeals spanning most of the federal circuits and involving subject areas ranging from the False Claims Act to FDA regulatory issues to product liability to national security. Before rejoining King & Spalding in 2009, Bucholtz served more than six years in leadership positions in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, including six months as Acting Assistant Attorney General. The Civil Division is the Department's largest litigating component, with over 800 attorneys. Among many other responsibilities, the Civil Division defends the United States in FTCA cases, and Bucholtz has extensive experience in that area.

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