► U.S. Judge Richard Leon of DC; one of the Good Guys Print

U.S. Judge Richard Leon of DC; one of the Good Guys


The DC Bar presented Richard J. Leon with a law license in 1981 after he graduated from the Harvard University School of Law.


Judge Leon was appointed to the DC District Court by President George W. Bush in 2002.


In one matter, Judge Leon presided over a case wherein the U.S. Department of Justice entered into an agreement to pay the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm $212,000 in fees and expenses to settle a case over the exclusion of New York residents from trusted traveler programs.


In criticizing the Department of Justice’s fee agreement with the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm, Judge Leon made the following prescient statements.

  • “It is not every day the Department of Justice and their clients have to confess to written and oral misrepresentations on the record in a high-profile case!”
  • “It would appear that Arnold & Porter simply capitalized—unfortunately at the taxpayer expense—on the government’s apparent desire to dispose of the case as quickly as possible.”
  • “The court believes the Department of Justice should have been more aggressive in protecting the public.”
  • “While I commend Arnold & Porter’s charitable intentions, for which they undoubtedly receive much favorable public recognition,” this is irrelevant to a judicial analysis of whether the fees in a case like this are, in fact, fair and reasonable, and thus ‘proper.”
  • “Indeed, there was a time earlier in my career when pro bono literally meant pro bono and not a penny would be collected for the time expended.”

Kudos to Judge Leon for having the courage and fortitude to call out a big law firm for gouging the public by charging what was clearly an unreasonable fee in case wherein the firm only filed one motion during the pendency of the matter.


As we speak (ca. April 2021), Judge Leon continues to sit as a DC District Court judge in Washington, DC.