Portfolio Media, Inc. | 648 Broadway, Suite 200 | New York, NY 10012 | www.law360.com Phone: +1 212 537 6331 | Fax: +1 212 537 6371 | [email protected] Q&A With K&L Gates' John Krill Law360, New York (September 09, 2009) -- John P. Krill is a partner in K&L Gates LLP’s Harrisburg office and co-coordinator of the firm’s appellate, constitutional and governmental litigation practice group. He has extensive experience in complex litigation in appellate, constitutional, administrative and environmental law. He has been lead counsel in numerous cases in various jurisdictions and has represented clients in both state and federal appellate courts. Krill recently argued successfully before a special panel of judges from the Second, Seventh and Tenth Circuits to affirm dismissal of a civil rights action alleging members of all three branches of state government conspired to fix cases in exchange for legislation. He also obtained a unanimous reversal from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a case challenging the governor's use of the line-item veto. Q: What is the most challenging case you've worked on, and why? A: The most challenging case has been Vieth v. Jubelirer, 124 S. Ct. 1769 (2004). I defended the Pennsylvania General Assembly's congressional redistricting plan against a claim that it was unconstitutional, extreme, partisan gerrymandering. I handled the trial before a three-judge court as well as the appeal to the Supreme Court. The redistricting map was indeed not pretty. One county was split between six congressional districts. One incumbent congressman testified that his home was put in a new district, but when he left his house and got to the sidewalk to get into his car, he was in his old district. After a lengthy trial featuring experts on politics, use of census data and political remedies, the court ruled in our favor and upheld the plan. After the Supreme Court took the case for briefing and argument, numerous amici filed briefs opposing us. The amici included political scientists, historians and political groups. Only one amicus was on our side. Rebutting the arguments of amici required research in their fields of expertise. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ All Content Copyright 2003-2009, Portfolio Media, Inc. By the time the Supreme Court heard the case, elections under the plan had resulted in a partisan shift in the state congressional delegation. The challenge in the Supreme Court, in briefing and argument, was to convince a majority that any tests or standards for redistricting that the appellants, the amici or even the justices themselves could propound would always have partisan, political ramifications. This would mean that there was no judicially manageable standard for depoliticizing redistricting. I'm happy to say we succeeded in persuading a majority. Q: What do you do to prepare for oral argument? A: I try to develop illustrations of our main points that are fresh and haven't appeared in any of the briefs. I like to find analogies in other areas of the law or ordinary experience, to show the consequences of adopting a position. I also review the briefs and key cases. I enjoy having a moot court that is hot, when everyone has read the briefs and thought about the case. Q: What are some of the biggest problems with the U.S. appeals process? A: The practice of designating opinions not reported, not for publication or not for citation should be abolished. If a decision only affects the parties and has no precedential value, it is no different than a private arbitration. Judges who don't want to be pinned down by publishing their opinions should go into the booming arbitration business. Q: Aside from your own cases, which cases currently on appeal are you following closely, and why? A: I follow cases and prelitigation controversies that involve issues of federalism. The larger, more activist role assumed by the federal government recently in the economy and in expenditures is likely to lead to some interesting issues about where, if any, are the outer boundaries of congressional power, especially vis à vis the prerogatives of the states. The stimulus law, for example, creates potential clashes between governors and state legislators under state constitutions governing the appropriation and use of funds. Q: Outside your own firm, name one lawyer who's impressed you and tell us why. A: Greg Dunlap, deputy general counsel for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ All Content Copyright 2003-2009, Portfolio Media, Inc. His briefs are always very well written, and his arguments are dialogues with the judges. I've seen him argue many times and have been both opposed to him and on the same side. Q: What advice would you give to a young lawyer interested in getting into your practice area? A: First, learn to write briefs in non-legalese English, particularly in an appellate brief's statement of facts. Second, look for opportunities to be on your feet in court. K&L Gates has a pro bono program that has given the associates in the appellate practice group the opportunity to argue in the circuit courts of appeal. If your firm has such a program, get involved. If your firm doesn't have one, start one. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ All Content Copyright 2003-2009, Portfolio Media, Inc.