Sam Ramer, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia and prosecutor in New York City, is now crime counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.
Ramer will be working under Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and is one of several counsels advising the panel, according to a House Judiciary aide.
A graduate of Brandeis University and Boston University Law School, Ramer attributes his keen interest in criminal law to his upbringing in South Bronx Section 8 public housing. “The crime rate was through the roof, and I would see scared members of the community. It made a real impact on me; I wanted to make a change,” Ramer said in an interview with Main Justice.
After law school, Ramer returned to the Bronx, working in the District Attorney’s office for a few years. He then transferred to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office in Manhattan, an assignment that had personal meaning.”I always hated drugs as a kid,” he said. “This was a time when people thought New York City was ungovernable, that we’d never be able to fix the problem.”
He then returned to the District Attorney’s office in the Bronx and worked under the major crimes task force. His load included first-degree murder cases, gangs and large narcotics-trafficking cases. One case that stood out for him was an interstate gun-trafficking case involving the purchase and transport of 102 guns from Virginia to New York.
Six years later Ramer moved to the District of Columbia, where he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney. “Working with the Justice Department was a much more labor intensive and sophisticated process,” he said.
From there, he went to work for Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for a year and a half, providing legal guidance to senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specifically, he prepared memoranda, presented issues, drafted questions and outlined expenses — something that Ramer had never done before. However, as a detailee, he was not allowed to work on nominations or oversight issues.
While he worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was pleased to see the reauthorization of the Patriot Act. But there were disappointments, too. He cited the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, in which he had hoped to see a provision authorizing U.S. Marshals permission to obtain administrative subpoenas, a tool afforded to agencies like the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, to pursue sex offenders. The subpoena power would have allowed U.S. Marshalls to seize items like rent records and credit card accounts to help the U.S. Marshals track down unregistered sex offenders through a paper trail.
As to why goals aren’t always accomplished, he has his own theories. Sometimes, he said, members run out of time, or issues just fall off the radar.
“It’s an adversarial process and nothing like trial work. Everyone is extremely professional and wants good government policy,” he said. “It’s just different world views. The Democrats and Republicans are struggling for an overlapping world view over some policy concerns.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that Ramer worked for the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office in Manhattan.