WASHINGTON – A "dial-a-porn" service and the New York Daily News are among companies Michael Mukasey, President Bush's choice for attorney general, has listed as former legal clients in documents turned over to senators who will decide whether to confirm him.
Responding to questions posed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the former federal judge said he also quit a private club that refused to admit women.
The 50-page document, a routine form filled out by presidential nominees, was released Tuesday by the committee. No date has been set for Mukasey's confirmation hearings.
Mukasey, who served as a federal judge from 1988 to 2006, listed the pornography and Daily News cases as two of the 10 "most significant litigated matters" in which he had been involved while in private practice.
In the document, Mukasey said he was part of the defense team for a dial-up porn service against charges of interstate transportation of obscene materials. The case was litigated in 1987, before he was appointed to the federal bench.
"I directed the strategy and legal research, drafted major portions of the papers and gave the principal argument in support of the motion to dismiss the indictment," Mukasey wrote.
Mukasey said government prosecutors "had charged violation of three statutes that did not apply to the defendants' conduct." The case was appealed, but its final outcome was not described in the Mukasey's questionnaire.
In the 1983 case Gaeta v. New York News Inc., Mukasey represented the New York Daily News, a reporter and an editor in a libel suit that arose from a story describing the history of a released mental patient.
According to Mukasey, the article reported falsely that the patient had become insane after his son's suicide and that the death was precipitated by the love affairs of the patient's wife — who also was the plaintiff.
The Court of Appeals for the State of New York reversed the lower court decisions and ruled in favor of the newspaper and its two staff members, Mukasey said.
Although senators are likely to question him about his clients, legal organizations maintain that lawyers should not be judged by who they represent because everyone is entitled to a defense.
Among other details in the document, Mukasey said he quit the University Club in New York when it refused to admit women.
He also reported to the committee that he is a partner in the New York law firm Patterson, Belknap Webb & Tyler and owns a $2.5 million residence on which he owes $693,000.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, who would preside over Mukasey's confirmation hearings, has refused to formally schedule them until White House counsel Fred Fielding answers questions about the administration's secretive eavesdropping program and its policy on the interrogation of terrorism suspects.
Leahy also has let Mukasey know he'll be expected to answer questions about those and other issues at the still-unscheduled hearings, according to numerous officials close to the preparations who spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not yet been finalized.
If confirmed, Mukasey will inherit a Justice Department where many of the top deputies of his predecessor — Alberto Gonzales — have resigned during a scandal over the mass firing of U.S. attorneys.
Facing the agency are complex questions about how its agents fight terrorism with new legal tools that have permitted eavesdropping and demands for personal information without warrants.
Mukasey also is expected to be asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee about two prominent terrorism cases and the $10,000-a-day cost of his own security detail in the wake of those trials.
Mukasey initially was given the security detail in 1993, when he was assigned to preside over the trial of "blind sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was accused of plotting to blow up the United Nations and other New York City landmarks. Mukasey sentenced Rahman to life in prison in 1996. He also presided over the initial court hearings, in 2002, for terror suspect Jose Padilla.