Attorneys and Staff

John Vecchione

President and CEO

Mr. Vecchione focuses his practice on strategic litigation in the federal district and appellate courts. He has represented private clients before Courts throughout the nation. He is an experienced trial and appellate attorney having tried cases, and argued appeals across the country over a quarter of a century in private practice. He is a member of the bars of the State of New York, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States and many federal courts. His cases are reported in scores of published opinions. He also has published op-eds advancing the freedom agenda and constitutional order on many topics in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and many other forums.

Bar Memberships

• The State of New York-1990
• The District of Columbia-1992
• The Supreme Court of the United States-2005
• The Commonwealth of Virginia-2007

Mr. Vecchione is also admitted to the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 11th and the D.C. Circuit, and, inter alia, the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, as well as the federal district for the District of Columbia and the federal district for the Eastern District of Virginia.


Georgetown University Law Center
Washington, DC, J.D. cum laude, 1989
Associate Editor, Georgetown Law Journal
Editorialist, Georgetown Law Weekly
President, Georgetown Federalist Society
Hamilton College
Clinton, NY, B.A. with honors, Government, (Economics, Minor) 1986
News Editor, Hamilton Spectator
President, Hamilton Debate Team
Member Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, Psi Chapter

Selected Publications

Law for Nurse Leaders, A Comprehensive Reference, Springer Publishing Company, (2011), Chapter 4, Laws Governing the Workplace (with Paula DiMeo Grant).

Vaclav Havel Was A Champion of Freedom Frum Forum, December 18, 2011.

Did Republicans Lose Because of George Bush? Frum Forum January 25th, 2009.

“What is Confession Good for Now?”
National Law Journal, John J. Vecchione and Andre P. Barlow.
As the Supreme Court considers cert in an antitrust prosecution, John Vecchione and Andre Barlow warn that all sorts of government amnesty programs might be affected. Subscription required. October 23, 2006

“In Search of a Hero”
Washington Times, August 2, 2001.

“Supply Side is a Winning Strategy”
Wall Street Journal, May 5, 1999.

“The Effect of Regime Type on Government Response to Economic Crisis”
The Hamilton Social Science Review, Spring 1987.

• The Federalist Society
• The Republican National Lawyers Association

Professional History

John J. Vecchione Law, PLLC, Fairfax, VA
Valad & Vecchione, PLLC
Principal 2006 – 2016

• Lead trial and appellate counsel and key member of MDL in product liability pharmaceutical litigation. In re Aredia/Zometa Products Liability Lit., 3:06-md-01760 (M.D. /Tenn). Oversaw all aspects of mass tort litigation in federal and state courts.
• Lead trial and litigation counsel on non-compete and employment law litigation. Advise corporations and individuals on employment law, and non-compete contracts and strategies.
• Lead attorney on all Supreme Court of the United States certiorari briefing in mass tort practice.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, Washington, DC
Special Counsel 2003 – 2006

• Engaged in all aspects of civil litigation including trial of anti-trust, fraud, employment and complex commercial disputes.
• Defended and advised corporations on employment law and non-discrimination, particularly District of Columbia law.

Kutak Rock, LLP, Washington D.C.
Of Counsel 2001 – 2003

• General commercial litigator involved in anti-trust, employment and other commercial litigation.

Ludwig & Robinson, Washington D.C.
Member 2000 – 2001
• General commercial litigation– UCC litigation, Employment-labor litigation and securities defense litigation.

Ross & Hardies, Washington, D.C.
Associate 1990 – 1999

• White collar criminal defense including resisting extradition and assisting in defense of criminal fraud charges.
• Civil practice included both defense and prosecution of contract, tort, anti-trust and labor matters.
Law Clerk-The Honorable Alfred J. Lechner, Jr., United States District Court for the District of New Jersey-1989-1990.
T.V. Show-The People’s Court”, Law Clerk- The Honorable Joseph A. Wapner, Jr. presiding-Spring 1989.

Blogger, Frum Forum (link), from inception to closing.

Milestones and Highlights
Named to the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee-In re Aredia Zometa Products Liability Litigation, 3:06-MD-1750 (M.D./Tenn.)-2006
Winter v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 739 F.3d 405 (8thCir., 2013) (successfully opposed on appeal Defendant’s attempt to reverse trial verdict below).

Fussman v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 509 Fed. Appx. 215, 2013 WL 474330 (4th Cir.) cert. denied,134 S.Ct. 88, (Oct. 07, 2013) (successfully opposed on appeal Defendant’s attempt to remove punitive judgment, for new trial and to obtain certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States).

Davids v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 977 F.Supp.2d 171 (S.D.N.Y., 2013) (lead trial counsel) (preserved trial win including punitive damages in post-trial motions).

Guenther v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 2013 WL 6049035 (M.D. Fla., 2013) (successfully defended million-dollar judgment against post-trial defendant motions).

Georges v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 988 F.Supp.2d 1152 (C.D.Cal., 2013) (lead trial counsel) (successfully defended two million plus dollar judgment against defendant from post-trial motions).

Stevens v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 358 Mont. 474, (Mont., 2010) cert. denied.,131 S.Ct. 2938, ___U.S.____, (2011) (defended multimillion dollar verdict and obtained denial of certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States).

Federal Marketing v. Virginia Imp. Prod., 823 A.2d 513 (D.C., 2003) (lead appellate) successfully defended award of contempt sanctions for failing to abide by consent order before D.C. Court of Appeals.

Lofton v. TLC Laser Eye Centers, Inc., 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1476 (D. Md.) (lead counsel) (Obtained injunction against enforcement of non-compete clause against a Lasik eye surgery provider).

Hunter v. Ark Restaraunts Corp., et. al, 3 F.Supp.2d 9 (D.D.C., 1998) (summary judgment granted in part for Defendant on plaintiff’s discrimination claims).

Ryzceck v. Guest Services, Inc., 877 F.Supp.754 (1995) (lead counsel) (successfully represented plaintiff in first same-sex sexual harassment case in the District of Columbia).

Julie Smith

Vice President

Julie A. Smith is Vice President at Cause of Action Institute. For the past 14 years Julie has defended companies and individuals in litigation against and investigations by government and regulators including the SEC, Department of Justice, FINRA, and the PCAOB. Prior to that Julie worked as a senior counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and Office of General Counsel, investigating, litigating and reviewing enforcement cases and other regulatory actions.

Julie is a 1988 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She clerked for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

• “To Catch a Thief,” The Deal Magazine (October 19, 2009)
• Julie A. Smith and Gregory S. Bruch, “SEC Examinations and Enforcement in the Post-Madoff Era,” Securities Litigation Report (October 2009)
• Casenote, "Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Cardoza-Fonseca," 1986 Supreme Court Term, 101 Harvard Law Review 340 (1987)

• Ongoing Governance Reforms: Are They Effective and What More Should Be Done?, Web Conference (March 26, 2008)
• SEC’s New Civil Penalty Principles: Clearer Standards for Public Companies, Web Seminar (January 27, 2006)
• Compliance and the “Litigation Dilemma”: The New Incentives for Vigorous Corporate Compliance and the Old Litigation Risks, Web Conference (April 21, 2005)

J.D. Harvard Law School 1988
B.S. Trinity College (D.C.) 1984

State of California
District of Columbia
Commonwealth of Virginia
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Lee A. Steven

Assistant Vice President

Lee oversees and manages both litigation and investigation matters for Cause of Action Institute. He has particular experience with the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act. Before joining Cause of Action Institute at the beginning of 2015, Lee spent many years in private practice with the international arbitration group of White & Case LLP in Washington, D.C. He represented both investor and State clients in international disputes across a broad range of industry sectors and advised sovereign clients, international organizations, and private parties on matters of public international law, international and cross-border dispute resolution, and bilateral investment treaties. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law (1998) and Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois (1985). In between college and law school, Lee also earned an M.A. in linguistics (University of Texas at Arlington, 1991).

Nichole Van Valkenburg

Chief Strategy Officer

Nichole first joined Cause of Action Institute in 2015 as VP of Research and Communications, leveraging her business and legal experience with an investigative and media background. In her current role, she works to support CoA Institute’s critical work with innovative strategy development, long-term planning, marketing and branding, relationship building, and integrated research. Nichole works to drive decision making that furthers Cause of Action’s vision of economic freedom and individual opportunity advanced by honest, accountable, and limited government.

Prior to joining CoA Institute, Nichole served two years as a research analyst for the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel's Brainroom in New York. She became the senior research analyst at Washington Free Beacon during its 2012 launch following a legal fellowship on Capitol Hill. Prior to law school, Nichole managed over 20 national marketing teams, working on behalf of JP Morgan Chase Bank.

Originally hailing from West Chester, PA, and later Annapolis, MD, Nichole earned her B.S. in Business Administration from Drexel University, and her J.D. from Widener University's Commonwealth School of Law.

Nichole is admitted to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Eric Bolinder


Eric focuses his practice on administrative law, including litigation in both federal district and appellate courts. He also engages in strategic oversight of the Executive Branch through investigations, FOIA litigation, and other accountability measures.

During law school, Eric clerked for Senator Chuck Grassley’s Judiciary Committee staff, vetting nominees to the federal judiciary. Prior to joining the Cause of Action Institute, he worked as a Law Fellow with Senator Mike Lee’s Judiciary Committee staff.

Eric grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and is an avid sports fan. He spends much of his free time volunteering with his church, where he teaches classes on Christian Theology and Apologetics.


J.D. Georgetown University Law Center, 2012
B.A. James Madison University, 2008


District of Columbia Bar
Virginia State Bar
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Mike Geske


Michael R. Geske joined Cause of Action Institute in January 2016 and has over two decades of litigation, trial, and legal consulting experience. He operated a solo practice, Geske Counsel, LLC in Washington, DC from 2014 through 2016. From 2007 to 2013, he was an owner, member of the board, and C.O.O. (2007-2011) of Aphelion Legal Solutions, a legal process outsourcing (LPO) firm with its primary operating facility in Chennai (Madras), India for the firm’s Indian attorneys and legal staff. Prior to that he was Special Counsel and a 17-year member of Arnold & Porter, LLP, resident in Washington, DC, where he represented clients in all phases of high profile, complex litigation and regulatory proceedings of national significance.

Selected Publications and Presentations:
Living with and Investigating Data Breaches (BIA Protect, Knowledge Leadership Series, Sept. 17, 2015) (official FTC, DOJ, and NIST guidance about creating Information Security Plans, reacting to data breaches, and self-reporting breaches to FTC and other law enforcement agencies).
Legal-Ethics Lessons for Actuarial Professionalism (Am. Academy of Actuaries, Committee on Professionalism, Sept. 3, 2015).
Corporate Knowledge Strategies Privacy & Security Update (CKS, June 16, 2015) (May 2015 statements from FTC and DOJ about self-reporting data breaches, risk management techniques recommended by FTC and DOJ, explanation of USA FREEDOM Act, and ACLU v. Clapper (2d Cir. May 7, 2015)).
Corporate Knowledge Strategies in Response to NSA Surveillance (CKS, Feb. 2015).
Outsourcing Legal Work (Pincus Professional Education, Dec. 11, 2012) (presenting comprehensive, written course materials about state and local bars’ ethical opinions, case law, and other authorities about domestic and offshore outsourcing of legal work, the impact of domestic and international privacy laws on legal outsourcing, and best outsourcing practices).
Solutions that Meet FRCP 26’s Reasonableness Requirements (Dec. 2009) (developments in electronically assisted document-retrieval techniques).
The Changing Scope of Work Product and Privilege Protections in the Age of Electronic Discovery (July 2009).
Electronic Surveillance and Offshore Legal Communications (American Conference Institute’s LPO Summit, New York City, Sept. 15-16, 2008).
Strategic E-Discovery: Taking Steps to Avoid Litigation’s Black Hole, (The Knowledge Congress, Feb. 2009) (transparent and professional relationships with e-discovery vendors).
Ethical Considerations Applicable to Outsourced & Offshore Legal Work, LPO Network, Vol.1, No.8 (Dec. 1, 2007) at 3-5.
Attorney-Client Privilege and Attorney Work Product Protections, appearing as Chapter 33 in Association of Corporate Counsel, 2 SUCCESSFUL PARTNERING BETWEEN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE COUNSEL §§ 33:1 – 33:72 (Haig, Robert L., ed., Thomson West 2000, 2002, 2004 Supp., 2006 Supp., and 2007 Supp.) (co-author with Theodore L. Banks, Leslie Wharton, Cheryl G. Ragsdale, Erik D. Nadolink & Charles R. Wall), 772 PLI/Lit 63 (Mar. 26, 2008) (2007 Supp. ed.).
Statelessness and Citizenship, appearing as Chapter IX in NGO MANUAL ON INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL INSTRUMENTS CONCERNING REFUGEES AND HUMAN RIGHTS (UNHCF Regional Bureau for Europe, Geneva, 1998) (author and member of the editorial board on behalf of the Open Society Institute and George Soros, see NGO MANUAL at iii).

J.D. summa cum laude from Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington (1989)
M.A. in Religious Studies - Ethics from Indiana University Graduate School (1988)
B.A. in Philosophy maxima cum laude from St. Meinrad College (1983)

Bar and Court Admissions:
District of Columbia Bar Association
District of Columbia Court of Appeals
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
American Bar Association

Kara McKenna Rollins


Kara McKenna Rollins is Counsel at Cause of Action Institute. She focuses her practice on administrative law, including litigation in federal district court and amicus curiae briefs. She also engages in strategic research and oversight of Executive Branch agencies, focusing on administrative rulemaking and government oversight and compliance.

Prior to joining the Cause of Action Institute in 2016, she clerked for the Hon. Karen M. Cassidy, A.J.S.C. in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Union Vicinage. Prior to her clerkship, she worked as the Political Programs Manager for the National Federation of Independent Business, where she had the opportunity to work with small business owners throughout the country and learned firsthand about the impact the regulatory state has on individuals.

Kara graduated with honors from Rutgers College, Rutgers University with a B.A. in Political Science in 2007, and cum laude from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law in 2014. During law school, she was a member of The Catholic University Law Review and a Moot Court Associate for the Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup National First Amendment Moot Court Competition.

Kara is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York, and New Jersey, as well as to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is an active member of the Federalist Society.

Ryan Mulvey


Ryan P. Mulvey has worked at the Cause of Action Institute since May 2013. His practice touches on various aspects of legal investigation and public oversight, as well as advocacy in the areas of administrative law and public access law. Ryan was graduated from the University of San Diego (2010) with a honors degree in history and political science. He earned his MA in Philosophy and JD from Boston University (2013). While a law student, Ryan completed internships at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, as well as the Office of the General Counsel of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. He served as Executive Editor for Notes and Comments at the Review of Banking & Financial Law. Prior to CoA Institute, Ryan worked as a research assistant for the second revised edition of the Heritage Foundation’s Heritage Guide to the Constitution (2014). He is admitted to the practice of law in New York State and the District of Columbia.

Michael Pepson

Special Counsel for Administrative Law

Mike Pepson is a Counsel at Cause of Action Institute. He has been involved in complex civil and criminal litigation in federal district and appellate courts and administrative litigation before federal agencies in a variety of matters, including statutory and constitutional challenges to federal regulations and agency decisions and Section 1983 challenges to state statutes.

Prior to joining Cause of Action Institute, he received his LL.M. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Before then, he worked at a small criminal defense firm. He earned his J.D., cum laude, from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where he was the Managing Editor of the Journal of Law, Philosophy & Culture, and B.A., cum laude, from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.

He has also authored or coauthored articles on constitutional and transparency issues: When Politics Gets Personal, Does the Public Have a Right to Know?, ENGAGE, Vol. 13, Issue 2 (July 2012); Lego v. Twomey: The Improbable Relationship Between an Obscure Supreme Court Decision and Wrongful Convictions, 47 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 1185 (2010); Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Federal Death Eligibility Determinations and Judicial Trifurcations, 43 AKRON L. REV. 1 (2010); and Therapeutic Jurisprudence in Philosophical Perspective, 2 J.L. PHIL. & CULTURE 239 (2008). His work has been cited in the Harvard Law Review, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and members of Congress, and in Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit briefs.

Admitted only in Maryland. Not admitted in D.C. Practice limited to cases in federal court and proceedings before federal agencies pursuant to D.C. Rule 49(c).

Jessica L. Thompson


Jessica Thompson serves as Counsel at Cause of Action Institute. Her practice primarily focuses on administrative law litigation. Jessica also advocates for a constitutionally constrained government through amicus briefs in appellate courts and by utilizing the litigation provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

Jessica graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in History and in Peace, War, and Defense. During college, Jessica interned at the John Locke Foundation. Before attending law school, Jessica was a Summer Policy Fellow at the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation and later, a Marketing Associate at the Institute for Humane Studies. She received her J.D., with honors, from the University of North Carolina, in 2014.

Prior to joining the Cause of Action Institute in 2017, Jessica served as a law clerk to the Honorable Mark D. Martin, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She also practiced insurance defense, including professional and medical malpractice litigation, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

A Tar Heel “born and bred,” Jessica is a zealous Carolina Basketball fan. She enjoys playing softball on the National Mall in the summer, and barre classes all year round. Jessica currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Jessica is admitted to practice in North Carolina, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Professional & Community Groups:
• Federalist Society
• ABA – Science & Technology Law Division

Professional Achievements:
• Research Assistant, Professor William P. Marshall, University of North Carolina School of Law
o William P. Marshall, Actually We Should Wait: Evaluating the Obama Administration’s Commitment to Unilateral Executive-Branch Action, 2014 UTAH L. REV. 773.
• Judicial Law Clerk, Honorable Chief Justice Mark D. Martin, Supreme Court of North Carolina

Kevin Schmidt

Director of Investigations

Kevin Schmidt is Director of Investigations at Cause of Action Institute. He focuses on cronyism and corporate welfare, government spending, and trade. He is also a co-founder and contributor to FOIA Advisor, a forum designed to help the public learn more about the federal Freedom of Information Act. Kevin is a frequent FOIA requester with more than 6 years’ experience requesting public records from federal, state, and local governments. His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Post, Washington Times, and Washington Examiner.

Kevin graduated from Kennesaw State University with a BS in political science in 2010, and later received an MA in political science from the University of Georgia in 2012. Prior to rejoining Cause of Action Institute in 2018, he worked as Director of Research for boutique public relations firm CounterPoint Strategies, where he provided crisis solutions and reputation defense to leading private equity firms, Dow 30 companies, private industrial firms, and prominent public figures. Kevin first joined Cause of Action Institute in 2012 to 2015 as Investigative Analyst and Social Media and Web Editor.

Kevin grew up in Marietta, Georgia and spends his free time playing softball, ultimate frisbee, and volleyball. He lives in Arlington with his wife and son.

Joshua Schopf


Joshua N. Schopf is counsel at Cause of Action Institute. He has litigated matters before federal and state courts, administrative forums and international arbitration panels, in areas including complex commercial disputes, administrative law and constitutional law. He also has experience in government investigations and enforcement actions and on general regulatory matters. Before joining Cause of Action Institute, Mr. Schopf worked in private practice, including as an associate with the Washington offices of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood and Venable, LLP, and in the government as an attorney with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Schopf graduated, with honors, from Johns Hopkins University, and received his law degree from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar.

• Cooperating with the Government’s Investigation: The New Dilemma, SE72 ALI- ABA 353 (2000) (co- authored with Judson W. Starr).
• Religious Activity and Proselytization in the Workplace: The Murky Line Between Healthy Expression and Unlawful Harassment, 31 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 39 (1997).

Bar Admissions:
• DC
• NY
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
• U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
• U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY.

James Valvo

Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor

James Valvo is a Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at Cause of Action Institute. He is a member of the 2016-2018 FOIA Advisory Committee at the National Archives representing the interests of the nonprofit requester community.

Prior to joining Cause of Action Institute in 2013, Mr. Valvo was the Director of Policy for Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation. In that role, he led a national policy team and advised more than 25 state chapters to educate and advocate for economic freedom in the areas of tax, spending, health care, energy and environment, technology, and labor policy. His policy work has been featured in numerous print media outlets.

Mr. Valvo graduated cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science at American University as well, graduating summa cum laude with honors. He is the 2008 Harry S. Truman Scholar representing the District of Columbia and was given an award for his outstanding scholarship at the undergraduate level.

Mr. Valvo is a member of the Virginia and District of Columbia Bar, and is admitted to practice in several federal courts.

Anne Kerins

Legal Secretary

Anne is a native Washingtonian, as were both her parents. She is the youngest and only girl of four. After 12 years of Catholic education, Anne graduated from Immaculata Preparatory School in 1982. She then completed one year of studies at Washington School for Secretaries. Her first full-time job was on Capitol Hill working for the Judiciary Committee. Soon after, she worked at several private law firms from 1985 through 2015. She has two adult daughters and has lived in Rockville, MD since 1988. Anne joined Cause of Action Institute in April 2016.

Thomas Kimbrell

Research Analyst

Thomas Kimbrell joined Cause of Action Institute in 2017 as a Research Fellow. Born and raised in North Georgia, Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Bakersfield before completing a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Georgia. After graduating, Thomas pursued an entrepreneurial opportunity as the Operations Manager for a start-up company. Previously, Thomas worked as the Office Manager at a law firm in San Diego and as Department Lead at another firm in Atlanta.