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
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
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
One lawyer who recently went up against her -- and lost -- said
observers will see a lawyer whose style is ideal for appellate
Mahoney is succinct, accurate and handles pressure well, said
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
"She is very competent, very professional, very polished and
always well-prepared," Shorr said.
Marvin Krislov, now president of
College in Ohio,
was general counsel for the
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
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
burnetts@RockyMountainNews.com 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
* 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.