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O'Melveny Secures Unanimous US Supreme Court Victory

May 27, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact:
Piper Hall
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
202.220.5022
phall@omm.com

Marjory Appel
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
212.408.2471
mappel@omm.com

WASHINGTON, DC - O’Melveny & Myers LLP secured a unanimous victory for defendant Salman Khade Abuelhawa in the United States Supreme Court in Abuelhawa v. United States. The 9-0 vote is a rare achievement in a federal criminal appeal.

The case addressed the question of whether an individual could be held liable for "facilitating" felony drug distribution by using a cell phone to arrange a misdemeanor purchase of drugs for personal use.

In Justice David Souter’s written opinion, he states, “This history drives home what is already clear in the current statutory text: Congress meant to treat purchasing drugs for personal use more leniently than the felony of distributing drugs, and to narrow the scope of the communications provision to cover only those who facilitate a drug felony. Yet, under the Government’s reading of §843(b), in a substantial number of cases Congress would for all practical purposes simultaneously have graded back up to felony status with the left hand the same offense it had dropped to a misdemeanor with the right.”

Partner Sri Srinivasan led the O’Melveny team and presented oral argument before the Court on March 4, 2009. “We are very pleased that the Court agreed with our arguments and issued a unanimous decision in our client's favor in this important case concerning the reach of the federal drug laws,” said Srinivasan.

In addition to Srinivasan, of counsel Irv Gornstein, and associates Meaghan McLaine and Ryan Scott represented the defendant.

About O’Melveny’s Appellate Practice

O’Melveny’s Appellate Practice group is one of the nation's preeminent appellate practices. Our appellate lawyers have collectively argued more than 70 cases in the US Supreme Court, and have written briefs in hundreds more, both at the merits and certiorari stages. The practice is headed by Walter Dellinger, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States and former head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Members of the practice include several veterans of the Office of the Solicitor General, other former DOJ lawyers, and numerous former Supreme Court and federal appellate clerks.

About O’Melveny & Myers LLP

With more than 1,000 lawyers in 14 offices worldwide, O’Melveny & Myers LLP helps industry leaders across a broad array of sectors manage the complex challenges of succeeding in the global economy. We are a values-driven law firm, guided by the principles of excellence, leadership, and citizenship. Our commitment to these values is reflected in our dedication to improving access to justice through pro bono work and championing initiatives that increase the diversity of the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.omm.com