Kannon Shanmugam focuses on Supreme Court and appellate litigation.
Mr. Shanmugam has argued 13 cases before the Supreme Court—tying him with the legendary Edward Bennett Williams for the most by a lawyer in the firm’s history. Most recently, he presented oral argument on behalf of the defendant in Maryland v. King, the closely watched case on the constitutionality of DNA testing of arrestees. In a recent profile, The National Law Journal praised Mr. Shanmugam for his “confident manner and elegant elocution” before the Court.
Mr. Shanmugam has handled significant matters before the Supreme Court in a number of areas, including securities, antitrust, and criminal litigation. Among those matters, he argued Merck & Co. v. Reynolds, which concerned the statute of limitations for private securities-fraud actions. While representing the United States, he successfully argued Tellabs v. Makor Rights, which involved the standard for pleading state of mind in securities-fraud actions, and Weyerhaeuser v. Ross-Simmons, which concerned the standard for predatory-bidding claims under the federal antitrust laws.
Last year, Mr. Shanmugam successfully represented Juan Smith, a Louisiana death-row inmate, in Smith v. Cain. Although the Louisiana state courts had summarily rejected Smith’s claim, the Supreme Court ruled by an 8-1 vote that the district attorney’s office had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by failing to disclose favorable statements made by the key eyewitness before trial. One reporter described Mr. Shanmugam’s argument as “disciplined, legally and factually,” and praised him as a “talented advocate with a good command of even the finest detail of the evidence.”
Mr. Shanmugam has also argued numerous cases in federal and state appellate courts nationwide. In listing him as a notable practitioner in the area of appellate litigation, Chambers USA stated that he “is recommended by clients for his fresh perspective and energetic approach” and that “peers report there’s an elegance to his arguments and poise and sophistication in his presentation that is extremely impressive.” Mr. Shanmugam recently persuaded the Eleventh Circuit to order the dismissal of claims against former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada under the Alien Tort Statute. He also represented a former AIG executive in his successful appeal to the Second Circuit from his conviction for securities fraud arising out of a reinsurance transaction.
Born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas, Mr. Shanmugam received his A.B. summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1993; his M. Litt. from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Shanmugam clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and for Judge J. Michael Luttig on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Mr. Shanmugam joined Williams & Connolly LLP in 2008 after serving as an Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice. He was the first lawyer to join the firm directly as a partner for 22 years.
Lawdragon magazine recently named Mr. Shanmugam one of the 500 leading lawyers in America, and Washingtonian selected him as one of the top lawyers practicing before the Supreme Court. The Associated Press featured him in a story on “The Supreme Court of Tomorrow.” In addition, The National Law Journal listed Mr. Shanmugam as one of the top 40 lawyers under 40 in Washington and one of the top 40 minority lawyers under 40 in the country. Washingtonian also listed him as one of the top 40 lawyers under 40 in Washington and as one of 20 people in Washington to watch.
Mr. Shanmugam is president-elect of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court, the principal bench-bar organization for appellate judges and lawyers in the Washington area. He is also a member of the executive committee of the American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers and an officer of the ABA’s Appellate Practice Committee. He has previously served on the boards of the American Inns of Court and the Supreme Court Historical Society.
In the community, Mr. Shanmugam is a member of the board of trustees of Thurgood Marshall Academy, a public charter high school in Southeast Washington, and a member of the management committee of the Bard Association of the Shakespeare Theatre.
Cases argued by Kannon Shanmugam in the Supreme Court (click on the case name to listen to the oral argument):
Maryland v. King, No. 12-207 (argued Feb. 26, 2013)
Whether the Fourth Amendment permits the warrantless collection and analysis of DNA from a person who has been arrested for, but not convicted of, a criminal offense.
Whether police officers may detain an individual incident to the execution of a search warrant when the individual has left the scene before the warrant is executed.
Whether the prosecution violated the defendant’s right to due process by failing to disclose favorable statements made by several eyewitnesses before trial.
What a plaintiff must know in order to trigger the running of the statute of limitations for federal securities-fraud claims.
Whether a state court validly enjoined the State of Hawaii from selling public lands held in trust for Native Hawaiians.
Whether a change precipitated by a state-court decision must be precleared under the Voting Rights Act.
Whether, in determining whether a prior offense qualifies as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act, a court should take into account the fact that the defendant was subject to a higher sentence as a repeat offender.
Whether the Federal Tort Claims Act permits a federal prisoner to sue for damages for lost personal property.
What a plaintiff must plead in a federal securities-fraud action in order to satisfy the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act’s requirement of a “strong inference” of the necessary state of mind.
What a plaintiff must prove in order to establish a claim of predatory bidding under the federal antitrust laws.
Whether a constitutional challenge to a method of execution must be brought in a petition for habeas corpus.
Whether a defendant who has been convicted of capital murder has a constitutional right to present alibi evidence at sentencing.
Whether officers conducting a search of a house may detain an occupant of the house in handcuffs and question her about her immigration status.