I just realized I made it through 7 years of federal employment without being indicted for Honest Services Fraud or a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act!

July 31st, 2012

Winning! While clerking in district court, I once had this extremely realistic nightmare that the Assistant U.S. Attorney had indicted me for honest services fraud for listening to and streaming Pandora while at work. This was around the time when the honest services cases were argued at the Supreme Court. The dream was so realistic. I remember telling Judge Gibson that I had to resign my position, and he recused himself from the case and transferred it to another court (there was only one judge in Johnstown–where the indictment was found). I remember trying to negotiate a plea bargain, through counsel, but the AUSA wasn’t interested, and wanted to take this to trial to make an example of me or something. The dream ended before the trial–though that would have been a fun thing to dream about. I wonder if the Rules of Evidence apply in dreams. Oh, the things that keep me up at night.

But yeah, 7 years. I started as an employee of the Federal Government in summer 2005, when I was a GS-5 intern earning $17/hour with the Department of Defense, Defense Information Systems Agency. In January of 2006, after I graduated from college, I took a full-time position with the DoD as a computer scientist focusing on network security. I started law school in August 2006 at Mason as an evening student, and continued working as a computer scientist until May 2007.

During my 1L summer (May-August 2007), I transferred to the General Counsel Office at my Agency. When school resumed in August 2007, I continued my employment with the GC until after I took the bar in 2009 (other than a brief leave of absence I took while summering at a D.C. firm). I finished that job on a Friday, and to avoid any break in service (a big deal), I started working as a law clerk for Judge Gibson in Johnstown the following Monday in August of 2009. I spent two years with Judge Gibson, and finished up on a Friday in August 2011. To avoid a break in service (again) I started with Judge Boggs on the following Monday in August of 2011. I worked with Judge Boggs straight through July 20, 2012. And, with that, my seven consecutive years of federal service came to an end.

I am often asked how I, a person with a quite proscribed view of the federal government, worked for the courts for so long. A few responses. First, I do not consider the federal courts part of the federal government. Lifetime tenure and guaranteed salary. Different branch. In Washington, alas, Articles I, II, and III are blended together. Strictly speaking, the federal government should refer to executive branch agencies, but for reasons I do not really understand–largely for purposes of pooling benefits and the like–one can transfer from Article I to II to III without any break. In fact, my salary from my DoD position (where I had been working for years) gave me a higher salary when I started in U.S. District Court.

Second, and more importantly, I–and most libertarians–would agree that courts are an important, and indeed indispensable, attribute of any government. I am honored of the work I did for the courts. Likewise, national defense (the province of the DoD) is an important public good–though we may disagree with the particular policies of the current (and recent) Secretary of Defense.

Anyway, for the first time in my career, I am working for a private-sector employer, the South Texas College of Law. Really, I have attended public schools my entire life. K-12 in New York City Public Schools. College at Penn State. Law School at George Mason (a state school in Virginia). I taught at Penn State Law School. This is a first for me.

Onward and upward.