Friday, January 13, 2012

Akin Gump Surveillance: Pattern of Suspicious Behavior

The following are three pages of handwritten notes that I prepared immediately after I was fired from my job as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld on October 29, 1991.  During my employment I did not keep a diary of daily events.  After the termination I wrote down everything I could remember, sometimes trying to discern patterns of behavior.  The following notes look for a pattern in the behavior of my direct supervisor, Chris Robertson.  

I can't say for sure now, but it's possible I wrote these notes during my employment at the firm, sometime in October 1991, and that I left them in a prominent place in my apartment for Elaine Wranik to see.  I had the paranoid suspicion that apartment manager Wranik inspected my apartment surreptitiously every day after I left for work and reported her findings to Akin Gump's managers.  These notes would have enraged Akin Gump's supervisors.  The fact that I did not "name names" in the following notes (namely, Lutheria Harrison and Katherine Harkness) is circumstantial evidence that I did not write these notes solely for my reference, but rather wrote the notes with the intent that Elaine Wranik would read the notes and report this information to Akin Gump's managers.  That is, it appears that I was trying to avoid antagonizing specific employees out of fear that I might invite retaliation.

1.  April 16, 1990

Inference: J.D. Neary meets with Dr. Palombo

Outcome:  Chris Robertson calls staff meeting.  She appears unusually agitated.  Her voice drops when she mentions J.D.  Peculiarity--Monday afternoon staff meeting.

2.  April 2, 1991

First meeting with Dr. Lewis Winkler.  Upon returning to office, Chris Robertson advises she is calling a staff meeting on April 3, 1991 to train coders on Hoechst.

April 3, 1991

2 4/10 hour meeting re Hoechst coding appears to have been prematurely and hastily called in that a number of important issues re data base have not been worked out with attorneys such as agreed on list of document types.  There seem to be many double entendres relating to my session with Dr. Winkler the previous day.  Cynthia Hogue make a comment about David Callet that can be interpreted as mildly ridiculing him.  (Perhaps David Callet said something favorable about me, possibly in connection with my session with Dr. Winkler?).

3.  August 8, 1991

Inference: Telephone conversation between Dr. Winkler and Malcolm Lassman.  Possible comment by Dr. Winkler that he couldn't understand why I terminated my work with him since I had told him I was enthusiastic about working with him.

Outcome: Reference by litigation support employee [Lutheria Harrison] to word "rude" -- possibly related to Dr. Winkler.  After 5:00 PM Chris Robertson says to me, "I spoke with Maryellen Connor about your working on Hoechst chem analysis; she said she was enthusiastic about your working on the project."

4.  August 30, 1991

Inference: Telephone conversation between Dr. Palombo and Malcolm Lassman.

Outcome:  Telephone call to me from Chris Robertson re: plans she has to have me enter Hoechst chem analysis in "Notebook."  Her tone of voice is affectedly professional.  References to me as guinea pig, use of term "bugs," data conversion, scroll down and scan, "It will be better for you" (Miriam Chilton?), "fine tuning" (phrase used by Dr. Palombo).

5.  October 2, 1991

Inference:  Telephone conversation between sister and Malcolm Lassman (Met with Dr. Brown on October 1, 1991).  Sister becomes hysterical or enraged?

Outcome:  Meeting with legal assistant in her office [Katherine Harkness].  Perception of sexual harassment.  Inference that legal assistant is attempting to enrage me.  Uses M.O. typically used by Chris Robertson, namely, first plant idea that I am more valuable than other employees.  Intent: "Feel free to have a temper tantrum!"


Gary Freedman said...

At the staff meeting on April 3, 1991 I remember showing off. I asked a question about enantiomorphism, which David Berkowitz responded to.

Enantiomorph -- Either of a pair of crystals, molecules, or compounds that are mirror images of each other but are not identical, and that rotate the plane of polarized light equally, but in opposite directions. Also called enantiomer, optical isomer.

Gary Freedman said...

As of April 3, 1991 I was not aware that there were rumors current in the firm that Akin Gump was planning to lay off paralegals because of the recession. On Friday April 5, 1991 Malcolm Lassman held a staff meeting of the firm's 50 or so paralegals in the 5th floor (large) conference room to respond to rumors, and assure paralegals that their jobs were safe. Also, on April 5, 1991, my supervisor Chris Robertson advised me that she was moving me from the 9th floor group office to the terrace level.

Gary Freedman said...

I remember that on Friday April 5, 1991 my supervisor called me into her office to tell me that she was moving me to the Terrace Level suite from the ninth floor office I had occupied since October 1989. After my meeting with the supervisor, Malcolm Lassman, the Akin Gump attorney manager who reported to the firm's management committee about matters relating to paralegals, chaired a meeting of paralegals in the firm's fifth floor conference room. He responded to rumors that the firm planned to lay off paralegals in response to the national economic recession. He assured the paralegals that the firm had no plans to lay off any paralegals; he said that laying off employees (in any employee group) was a last resort for the firm. I remember the paralegal Glenda Creasy (Walden), who seemed to be especially friendly with Legal Assistant Administrator Maggie Sinnott, was seated a few rows behind me at the meeting and was talking loudly about someone she called "paranoid." At that moment I had an idea of reference. I thought, "I think Glenda Creasy is trying to get me agitated." By the way, that's an interesting feature of my superior memory. I remember many trivial things from my past because I attach a self-referential meaning to events. My paranoia is a mnemonic device for me.

I remember that on Saturday April 6, 1991 I went to the office to move my belongings from the ninth floor to the Terrace Level. I didn't want to waste company time on moving. I didn't bill the firm for my Saturday hours spent on the move. I wanted to start work on Monday morning April 8th immediately at 9:00 AM. I had done the same thing on Friday March 17, 1989 when Maggie Sinnott told me that I was being moved from a private office on the fifth floor to a group office. Some time on the weekend of March 18, 1989 I went to the office to move my belongings so that I could start work immediately at 9:00 AM on Monday morning, March 20, 1989. (You will recall that Dennis Race's birthday was Monday March 13, 1989; it was on that day that Doug Rosenfeld, Esq. started working at Akin Gump. Dennis Race introduced Doug Rosenfeld to the firm at the All-Attorneys Dinner at the Westin Hotel on May 3, 1989. But now I'm showing off!)

In any event, I can recall fragments from Saturday April 6, 1991. I remember that the weather was unusually warm for early April. I remember that because I can remember getting on the elevator that day with firm partner Joel Cohn (whose office was located on the ninth floor) who said to me about the heat: "I'm melting." I remember that statement because I can recall having the paranoid idea: "I wonder if that's a sexual double entendre?"

I also remember that on that Saturday April 6, 1991 the Metropolitan opera broadcast Wagner's opera Parsifal. Met broadcasts of Parsifal usually start at 12:30 PM on Saturday afternoons, an early time because of the unusual length of the opera. I remember I was listening to Act I of the opera on my Walkman radio as I was carrying out my move from the ninth floor office to the Terrace Level. So we can say that I was in the office sometime between 12:30 and about 2:30. (The first act of Parsifal is about two hours long.) Maybe I am able to remember that Parsifal was broadcast that afternoon because I unconsciously drew a parallel between my subjective perception that my supervisor was covertly anti-Semitic and the fact that Wagner had subjected the conductor Hermann Levi (who conducted the premiere performance of Parsifal) to overt anti-Semitism.

Gary Freedman said...

The David Berkowitz Connection:

From an earlier post (part of my document submission to Social Security in June 1993):

"On Friday April 5, 1991, Chris Robertson called me to her office to tell me that she was moving me from the ninth floor down to the terrace level, effective Monday April 8. When I arrived at her office, before I knew why I had been called there, she was engaged in a heated discussion--almost an argument--with legal assistant David Berkowitz. He kept stating his points forcefully and contradicting her point of view. He left, and Chris told me that my office was to be moved. I had the paranoid feeling that the interaction with David Berkowitz had been staged: that she was letting me know, “Listen, Gary, I know you don’t want to move. I know you’ll be angry. Be free to express your anger as forcefully as you want. Look at David, here. He’s plenty angry with me, and he’s expressing it. No need to feel that you’ll get in any trouble by having a tantrum with me.” It was that afternoon that Malcolm Lassman spoke at a legal assistant meeting to respond to rumors that the firm planned to lay off some legal assistants as a result of the recession. Also, I can recount other suspicious interactions involving Chris Robertson and David Berkowitz."

Gary Freedman said...

3. In early August 1991 I was assigned to the chemical analysis phase of the Hoechst coding project. Late in the afternoon on about Thursday August 1, 1991 Chris Robertson advised me that she had spoken with attorney Mary Ellen Connor about my working on Hoechst chemical analysis and that Mary Ellen Connor had said that she was “enthusiastic” about my working on the project. In early August 1991 there was a considerable backlog of work on the chemical analysis phase of the Hoechst project.

Paragraph 3 raises additional questions regarding inconsistent statements or inconsistent behavior.

1. When Dennis Race advised me of my termination on October 29, 1991 he told me that he learned during his investigation that although my work on Eastern had been very good, after my work on Eastern ceased, in the spring of 1990, my work became poor. (Mr. Race reiterated this position during my telephone call to him on Wednesday morning October 30, 1991, when I inquired about unemployment compensation). If my work was poor, why did Chris Robertson select me, on August 1, 1991--at a time of a critical backlog on the project--to work on Hoechst chemical analysis? If I had a general reputation in the firm of doing poor work, why did Mary Ellen Connor say she was “enthusiastic” about my working on the project. (Precisely what did Marty Ellen Connor know about me that would have made her “enthusiastic” about my working on the project? Who was the source of Mary Ellen Connor’s knowledge about the quality of my work?)

Gary Freedman said...

36. On the afternoon of October 2, 1991 I met with legal assistant Katherine Harkness to review some work I had been doing under her direction, I was seated in front of her desk. Kathy was in back of her desk, but leaning over it, supporting her torso with her elbows. As she was reviewing the work she proceeded in a continuous motion to gyrate her hips and rub her pelvic region against the desk in a sexually suggestive manner while simultaneously expressing her work-related comments in the form of double entendres. This lasted for about two to four minutes.

[Harkness, several other legal assistants, and I were assigned to a special project for the client Hoechst-Celanese whose billing partner was David Callet. Callet had been a senior attorney on Eastern Airlines litigation. Callet, Earl L. Segal, and I were graduates of the Pennsylvania State University. I was assigned to Hoechst in about mid-August 1991.

Segal described the above-incident in a memo to his file as follows: "He first described to me an incident with a women (whose name I did not inquire, and who name he did not disclose), who was conferring with him over his work. He described to me that while he was sitting at his desk, for a period of approximately fifteen (15) minutes she was leaning over his desk while "gyrating her hips" against the edge of his desk, and that he believed that she may have been masturbating in front of him."

In Akin Gump's Response to Interrogatories filed with the Department of Human Rights on May 22, 1992, Dennis Race described the incident as follows: "a female co-worker stood by him swinging her hips so as to provoke him." (Akin Gump did not produce any contemporaneous documentation of my harassment complaint that I lodged with Race and Lassman on the morning of October 24, 1991).

In November 1991 I described the above incident to an EEOC investigator Franklin C. Jones who said it was his opinion that the above incident was prima facie evidence of sexual harassment.

The Department of Human Rights in its Initial Determination (June 30, 1993) adopted my version of the incident verbatim, but categorized the incident as an "idea of reference" per the employer's Response.]

[Bob Strauss withdrew from the partnership in late August 1991 to assume his position as U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union. It was my subjective inference that firm personnel (particularly the supervisory staff) believed that I was somehow being "protected" by Bob Strauss.

The image of Jews as being protected by powerful figures is a notable feature of anti-Semitism. The theme recurs in the relations between the United States and the State of Israel, where the U.S. is seen as the sine qua non of Israel's existence ("Without the United States, Israel wouldn't last a minute!"). Ironically (or uncannily), Bob Strauss served as Special U.S. Ambassador to the Middle-East Peace negotiations during the Carter Administration.

While I worked at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson (1985-1988), when the department supervisor Sheryl Ferguson announced she was leaving the firm (on February 12, 1987), one employee said to me about another employee (Matthew Allender) who was seen as being "protected" by Ferguson: "Once she's gone (i.e., Ferguson) he (i.e., Allender) won't last a minute; we'll see to that."]

Gary Freedman said...


To: Everyone

From: Management Committee

Date: August 19, 1991

You are Cordially Invited

To A

Farewell Reception in honor of

Robert S. Strauss and Vera Murray

Thursday, August 29, 1991

5:15 to 6:30 p.m.

9th Floor Reception Area and 9 Main Conference Room

R.S.V.P. to Margarita Babb by Friday, August 23

To: Margarita Babb

From: ____________________

I will be able to attend _________________

I will not be able to attend __________________

Farewell Reception - August 29, 1991

Gary Freedman said...

The posted notes are written very neatly in blocked, upper case letters, not cursive script. This is additional circumstantial evidence that I wrote the notes with the intent that a third party (Elaine Wranik) read them.

Unknown said...

I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.

Litigation Coding