In a question and answer with Lincoln Journal Star published Sunday, Nebraska U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg discussed the rise in civil forfeitures in the state and what that means for civil liberties. Formerly a lawyer in private practice in Omaha, Gilg was sworn in as Nebraska’s U.S. Attorney in October 2009. (Read more about her here.)
Q: Cash and vehicle forfeitures on I-80 are on the rise. Do you think that means more drug trafficking is going through Nebraska, or law enforcement is getting better at finding it?
Gilg: I-80 remains a significant traffic route for drug traffickers. Law enforcement continues to increase their ability to detect and effectively stop drug traffickers.
Q: What must the government do to prove its case and show a substantial connection between the property and the drug trade?
Gilg: The United States must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was a substantial connection between the currency and a drug trafficking offense. “We have adopted the common-sense view that bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking.” – U.S. v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency, 458 F.3d 822, 826 (8th Cir. 2006).
Q: In some cases that go to appeal, like Emiliano Gonzolez’s case in 2003, it appears even judges have disagreed about what’s enough. Is this still fairly new legal ground where precedent is being set? Is it in some ways a balancing act between interrupting the drug trade and protecting civil liberties?
Gilg: No. It is well-established law that an individual’s civil liberties are not trampled when there is probable cause for the traffic stop that results in the seizure.
For the full story, see here.
As four new Obama-appointed U.S. Attorneys took their oaths of office this week, their predecessors resigned. They are:
- Hawaii: Edward H. Kubo Jr. resigned yesterday. He had been the Hawaii’s U.S. Attorney since 2001. Kubo recently was one of six people who was nominated to fill a vacancy on the state First Circuit Court. Florence Nakakuni was sworn in yesterday. She was confirmed Sept. 29.
- Nebraska: Joe W. Stecher resigned this morning. He has been the district’s U.S. Attorney since 2007. Stecher said, “I have a few options” both in the private and public sectors. Deborah Gilg was sworn in today. She was confirmed Sept. 29.
Nevada: Gregory A. Brower resigned this morning. He had been the district’s U.S. Attorney since 2007. Brower has not announced official plans but has been mentioned as a possible Republican opponent for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in 2010 or as a Nevada attorney general candidate. Daniel Bogden was sworn in 10 a.m. Pacific Time. He was confirmed Sept. 15. Bogden was fired in 2006 as part of the Bush administration’s U.S. Attorney purge. Reid recommended him to President Obama for his old job.
- Western District of Washington: Jeffrey C. Sullivan resigned today. He had been the district’s interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out during the U.S. Attorney firings in 2006. Sullivan will remain in the office, working as a prosecutor in the criminal division. Jenny Durkan was sworn in this morning. She was confirmed Sept. 29.
Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.
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The Senate confirmed three U.S. Attorneys last night by unanimous consent.
-Jenny Durkan (Western District of Washington): The Seattle lawyer was nominated June 4. She will replace Jeffrey C. Sullivan, who has been the interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge. Read more about Durkan here.
-Florence Nakakuni (Hawaii): The Hawaii Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated July 14. She will succeed Bush holdover Edward Kubo Jr., who has been U.S. Attorney since 2001. Read more about Nakakuni here.
-Deborah Gilg (Nebraska): The Omaha lawyer was nominated July 31. She will replace Bush holdover Joe Stecher, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2007. Read more about Gilg here.
The Senate has now confirmed 14 U.S. Attorneys who have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Paul Fishman for New Jersey is the only nominee who has been endorsed by the panel, but has not been considered by the full Senate yet. Fishman and Durkan waited more than three months before the Senate Judiciary Committee considered them. Read our previous report about the delays on them here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to consider eight U.S. Attorney nominees, including Timothy Heaphy for the Western District of Virginia who will go before the panel tomorrow.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed five Justice Department nominees today by unanimous consent.
-Ignacia Moreno (Environment and Natural Resources Division Assistant Attorney General): The General Electric Co. counsel was nominated June 8. She would succeed Ronald Tenpas, who resigned in January. Read more about the nominee here.
-Jenny Durkan (Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney): The Seattle lawyer was nominated June 4. She would replace Jeffrey C. Sullivan, who has been the interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge. Read more about the nominee here.
-Paul Fishman (New Jersey U.S. Attorney): The New York lawyer was nominated June 4. He would replace Ralph Marra, who became acting U.S. Attorney after Chris Christie resigned in December 2008 to run for New Jersey governor. Read more about Fishman here.
-Florence Nakakuni (Hawaii U.S. Attorney): The Hawaii Assistant U.S. Attorney was nominated July 14. She would replace Bush holdover Edward H. Kubo Jr., who has been U.S. Attorney since 2001. Read more about Nakakuni here.
-Deborah Gilg (Nebraska U.S. Attorney): The Omaha lawyer was nominated July 31. She would replace Bush holdover Joe Stecher, who has been U.S. Attorney since 2007. Read more about the nominee here.
Durkan and Fishman were held over from last week at the request of Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) Read our report here.
The panel has now endorsed a total of 15 U.S. Attorney nominees. The Senate has confirmed 11 U.S. Attorneys that have been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel has yet to consider eight U.S. Attorney nominees.
Moreno joins four Assistant Attorney General nominees, who were reported out of committee and are waiting for votes in the full Senate. Dawn Johnsen (Office of Legal Counsel), Thomas Perez (Civil Rights Division), Christopher Schroeder (Office of Legal Policy) and Mary L. Smith (Tax Division) were endorsed by the panel months ago. Read our report on the stalled nominees here. The panel still has to consider one more Assistant Attorney General nominee, Laurie O. Robinson, who was nominated Sept. 14 to lead the Office of Justice Programs.
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The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider President Obama’s nominee for the Justice Department Environment and Natural Resources Division at a meeting Thursday.
Ignacia Moreno testified at a nomination hearing before the panel earlier this month. She said her work as a counsel on environmental programs at General Electric Co., along with her time in the Clinton Justice Department as a prosecutor in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, will be assets to her if she is confirmed.
Some Environmental Protection Agency attorneys have said they were concerned about Moreno because of her work at GE, according to a report by ProPublica, a non-profit investigative Web site. Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he does not have concerns about Moreno’s job at GE.
The panel will also consider U.S. Attorney nominees Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington, Paul Fishman for New Jersey, Deborah Gilg for Nebraska and Florence Nakakuni for Hawaii.
Last week, Sessions postponed panel votes on Durkan and Fishman until the Thursday meeting. Gilg and Nakakuni are appearing on the panel agenda for the first time this week.
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Well, here we are again. Four new nominations, four new questionnaires serving up the nominees’ private and public lives for your consumption.
Before you dig in, a note: We’ve seasoned the questionnaires with data from financial disclosure forms retrieved from the Office of Government Ethics. As we mentioned previously, the Senate Judiciary Committee deletes financial information from the questionnaires posted online here.
Here they are:
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Deborah Gilg (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska College of Law), is nominated to replace Joe Stecher, a Bush holdover.
- Born in 1951 in Omaha.
- Has been director and president of Gilg Office Law Firm in Omaha since September 1979, as was president of Gilg, Kruger & Troia, also in Omaha, from November 2005 to July 2009. (Her Salary from Gilg Law Firm is listed as $102,087.) She primarily represents family law clients, small business clients, personal injury clients, estate planning clients or guardianship/conservatorship clients.
- Would be Nebraska’s first female U.S. attorney.
- Was a part-time Saunders County attorney from December 2003 to July 2009. (She lists her salary as $48,132.)
- Served as an administrative hearing officer for the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission from 2002 to July 2009
- Was vice president and director of M.L. Kinsel & Associates Inc., a family entertainment business (i.e. travelogues) from 2003 to July 2009. The position was unpaid.
- Has served as Special Deputy County Attorney for Child Support Enforcement in seven different counties across the state, beginning in 1991.
- Was a sales clerk at B.Dalton Bookseller at the Gateway Mall in Lincoln (1973 to1974).
- Is a member of the Robert M. Spire Inns of the Court.
- Won the Exceptional Public Service Award from Nebraska Bar Foundation in 2003.
- Is a member of the Sunset Valley Country Club in Omaha.
- Has been chairwoman of the Nebraska Jail Standards Board since 1985.
- Was elected and served as Keith County Attorney from 1987 to 2002. (When she as elected, she eliminated criminal defense work from her private practice.)
- Nominated to be chief justice of Nebraska Supreme Court in 1996 (was not confirmed), and was twice nominated to be state judge in 2003 and 2004 (was not confirmed).
- As a member of the Nebraska Democratic Party, Gilg has volunteered for numerous politicians, including Sen. Ben Nelson (D), now ex-Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, and in local political races. She has hosted fund-raisers, donated money to campaigns and made in-kind donations.
- Estimates she has tried hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases.
- Guarantor for promissory note for Vista Properties of between $250,001 and $500,000
- Guarantor for promissory note for Awerkamp, Goodnight, Schwaller and Nelson CPAs of between $100,000 and $250,000
- Guarantor for promissory note for Pair-A-Dice, which owns a number of motels, of between $500,001 and $1 million
Click here for her full questionnaire.
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The group of U.S. Attorney nominees endorsed by the panel grew to seven members with the addition of Dettelbach and Stewart. There are another 10 U.S. Attorney appointees that the committee has not considered yet.
The U.S. Attorney nominees reported out of committee (not including Dettelbach and Stewart) are:
-Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)
-Tristram Coffin for the District of Vermont (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)
-Joyce Vance for the Northern District of Alabama (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 18)
-John Paul Kacavas for the District of New Hampshire (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 25)
-B. Todd Jones for the District of Minnesota (nominated June 4; reported out of committee June 25)
The U.S. Attorney appointees that the panel has not considered yet are:
- Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington (nominated: June 4)
- Paul Fishman for the District of New Jersey (nominated: June 4)
-Brendan Johnson for the District of South Dakota (nominated: July 14)
-Karen Loeffler for the District of Alaska (nominated: July 14)
-Florence Nakakuni for the District of Hawaii (nominated: July 14)
-Dennis K. Burke for the District of Arizona (nominated: July 14)
-Daniel Bogden for the District of Nevada (nominated: July 31)
-Deborah Gilg for the District of Nebraska (nominated: July 31)
-Timothy Heaphy for the Western District of Virginia (nominated: July 31)
-Peter Neronha for the District of Rhode Island (nominated: July 31)
Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on the Senate again to move on all Justice Department nominees reported out of committee. Read our previous report on the delays here.
“I remain hopeful that the Senate Republican leadership will work with us to clear all these nominations for confirmation before the extended August recess,” Leahy said in a statement submitted for the record today. “Those that cannot be confirmed by unanimous consent or on a voice vote this week should be scheduled with appropriate time agreements for debate, and up-or-down votes upon the Senate’s return the week of Sept. 8.”
The panel today also approved by voice vote Vermont U.S. Marshal nominee David Demag and President Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, David Kappos.
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President Obama nominated four lawyers to be U.S. Attorneys today, according to a White House news release.
-Daniel Bogden, Nominee for U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada
Bogden is currently a partner in the Nevada law firm of McDonald Carano Wilson. Bogden previously served as United States Attorney for the District of Nevada from 2001 to 2007. From 1998 to 2001, Bogden served as the Reno Division Chief in the United States Attorney’s Office. From 1990 to 1998, he was an Assistant United States Attorney and member of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. From 1987 to 1990, Bogden was a deputy district attorney with the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office. Bogden graduated from Ashland University and the University of Toledo’s College of Law. He served in the United States Air Force on active duty from 1982 to 1987 and remained on inactive reserve until his honorable discharge in March 1995.
-Deborah Gilg, Nominee for U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska
Gilg is the president of Gilg, Kruger & Troia P.C. L.L.O. in Omaha, Neb., where she has worked since 2005. Gilg has also been the Saunders County, Nebraska Attorney since 2003 and previously served as the County Attorney for both Arthur and Keith County. She began her legal career as a partner in the Beal, Jensen, Cecava and Gilg Law Firm. Gilg graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska College of Law.
-Timothy Heaphy, Nominee for U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia
Heaphy is a partner at McGuire Woods, LLP, where he has worked since 2006. From 1994 to 2003, Heaphy was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He then served as Deputy Managing Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia until 2005. Prior to that, Heaphy worked as a litigation associate for Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, California and a law clerk for Justice John A. Terry of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. He graduated from the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Law School.
-Peter Neronha, Nominee for U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island
Neronha has been an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Rhode Island for the past seven years. Prior to that, Neronha served in the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General as special assistant attorney general from 1996 to 2001 and assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2002. Following graduation from law school, he worked as an associate at Goodwin Proctor, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts. Neronha graduated from Boston College and Boston College Law School.
(Biographies are from the White House.)