Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Friday, February 26th, 2016

Kelly Currie, the first Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, is returning to the Crowell & Moring LLP law firm.

Kelly Currie

Currie served as acting U.S. Attorney after Loretta Lynch, the previous head of the Brooklyn office, was confirmed in April 2015 as U.S. Attorney General. Since December, Rob Capers has been the Senate-confirmed permanent successor to Lynch as U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn.

“Kelly Currie is a consummate public servant: dedicated, selfless, and fair,” Lynch said in a statement.

Read more from the Wall Street Journal here.

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Attorney General Loretta Lynch revealed new policies today to thwart local jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, winning praise from a vocal critic of her predecessor.

Rep. John Culberson (photo by Andrew Ramonas for Main Justice)

Rep. John Culberson, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that overseas the Justice Department’s budget, expressed his “sincere gratitude” at a hearing today to Lynch, who in response to Culberson’s questioning announced a revised approach to so-called “sanctuary” cities.

The Texas Republican had written a letter to Lynch on Feb. 1, vowing to force the Obama administration to strip grant money from localities that refuse to cooperate with immigration agents. Culberson said he wanted Lynch to certify that local jurisdictions applying for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, the community-oriented police office assistance program and the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) comply with all federal laws.

The lawmaker also threatened to restrict Lynch from re-programming money within her 2017 budget to different Justice Department programs.

Loretta Lynch

In testimony today before Culberson’s Commerce, Justice, science and related agencies subcommittee, Lynch said she has instructed the Bureau of Prisons to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over requests from state and local officials when releasing federal prisoners who could be subject to deportation proceedings.

The change means that instead of the Bureau of Prisons deferring to state or local entities that may want to prosecute an inmate on their own charges, “ICE will have the ability to step in an enforce their detainer first,” Lynch said.

“Particularly where we are dealing with a jurisdiction that is not prone to honoring ICE detainers …. our policy is going to be that ICE will instead have the first detainer,” which would lead to deportation proceedings, Lynch said.

She cautioned that the policy “may mean some local cases can’t be prosecuted,” but said in such instances, the department will discuss with the local jurisdiction ways it can still pursue its own charges against an individual. “We’d also have to have assurances that ICE will get the individual back” for deportation after any state or local prosecution, Lynch added.

Regarding the grants issue, Culberson thanked Lynch for replying promptly to his Feb. 1 letter. Her reply said the Justice Department could seek criminal or civil enforcement against a local entity if the department receives a “credible allegation” that the organization had received federal grant money after falsely certifying it was in compliance with federal law.

“If you expect to receive federal money, comply with federal law,” Culberson said. “Could you assure the committee that the department of justice will review such grantees?”

Said Lynch: “Certainly that is a part of our grant review process,” but she emphasized that the Bureau of Prisons directive on honoring ICE detainers would have a more immediate impact.

Said Culberson: “I genuinely appreciate that and I think it’s an example of the cooperative relationship this committee has had with the Department of Justice and with you as the new Attorney General. I express my sincere gratitude to you for this new policy.”

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the full House Appropriations Committee, pressed Lynch. “Will you seek to stop the grants?”

Lynch suggested that only grants tied to the specific areas where the local jurisdiction has ignored the federal law will be reviewed.

“If the grant is tied to the applicable law — again it has to be a connection between the issue and the grant. For example, a grant for human trafficking would be different from a grant for community policing,” Lynch said.

Rogers asked: “Is this a new policy?”

“It is in response to the discussions…we have had with the chairman here and other members,” Lynch said.

Rogers called her response “encouraging” but asked that the department provide quarterly reports to the committee on the grants review. “I’d like to know that it’s working,” Rogers said.

“We’re happy to work with you and your staff to provide you the information,” Lynch said.

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Adam Lurie, a former top Criminal Division official, has left Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP for the British law firm Linklaters.

Adam Lurie

Lurie will head Linklaters’ Washington, D.C.-based litigation and government investigations practice, the firm said in a news release.

“As U.S. law in the context of increasingly complex regulatory regimes is progressively shaping and governing cross-border transactions and disputes, building a strong and global U.S. platform is integral to our strategy,” Scott Bowie, head of Linklaters’ global U.S. practice, said in the release. He called Lurie’s partnership key to strengthening the firm’s government risk, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and civil litigation offerings.

Lurie left the Justice Department for Cadwalader in 2012, where he had served as senior counsel to then-Criminal Division chief Lanny Breuer. From 2009 to 2010, he was staff director for investigations and oversight for the House Intelligence Committee.

He has previously been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New Jersey under now-Gov. Chris Christie. As U.S. Attorney, Christie named Lurie to the office’s securities and health care fraud and political corruption units.

Among the clients Lurie represented at Cadwalader was London-based Standard Bank, which agreed last year to pay $4.2 million to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission charges related to a bribe scheme in Tanzania. In a related prosecution in London, the bank became the first company to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement under a 2013 law that introduced DPAs to the United Kingdom. Standard Bank also was the first company prosecuted under 7 of the UK Bribery Act of 2010 that prohibits companies from neglecting to implement adequate procedures to prevent bribery.

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

From Politico: Attorney General Loretta Lynch declined Wednesday to discuss how she would make a decision about whether to prosecute Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over classified information found on her private email server.

Read more here.

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged in a congressional hearing today that federal law prevents the president from sending Guantanamo Day detainees to the United States. She described the president’s plan to close the detention facility, announced yesterday, as a “goal” and a challenge to force lawmakers to act, rather than to circumvent them, The Washington Times reported.

Read more here.

because federal law

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Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Alamance County, N.C., Sheriff Terry Johnson fought back against Justice Department allegations his office had violated the civil rights of Hispanics - and won. Read more here.

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Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Pew Research Center finds that the American public supports the Justice Department in its battle with Apple over unlocking the iPhone of the San Bernadino terrorism suspect.

In a survey of 1002 adults conducted from Feb. 18 to 21, Pew found that almost identical percentages of Democrats and Republicans believe Apple should help unlock the phone for the FBI investigation. By contrast, Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly say Apple should not unlock the phone — 55 percent compared with 34 percent who support the FBI.

Read more here.

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Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Cono Namorato’s nomination to head the Justice Department’s Tax Division has stalled for more than a year over his past support for a federal law that prohibits houses of worship from engaging in partisan politics, reports the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, citing a Chicago Tribune report.

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016

We recently caught up with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who’s now a law school dean in Tennessee, to make sure he doesn’t have any plans to travel to Russia. Because he’s been banned.

Alberto Gonzales (CSPAN)

In its latest act of retaliation for the U.S. government’s Magnitsky List, Russia has barred Gonzales and four other former George W. Bush administration officials from entering the country.

Also not going to Moscow anytime soon is Jay Bybee, the former Assistant Attorney General who helped write the legal justifications for Bush-era torture policies. Bybee’s now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The other banned officials were likewise associated with controversial Bush-era anti-terrorism policies: Doug Feith, the former undersecretary of defense; former CIA general counsel John Rizzo, and former Department of Defense general counsel Jim Haynes

Reached by phone Wednesday, Gonzales laughed when told the news.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he said.

The Magnitsky List is named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian accountant for investment firm Hermitage Capital Management who died in a Moscow prison in 2009 after investigating a tax fraud. The U.S. enacted legislation in 2012 to sanction Russians found to be associated with Magnitsky’s death.

Since then, the U.S. has added 39 Russians to the list, meaning any U.S. assets they hold are frozen, in addition to the visa ban.

The latest U.S. action came in a Feb. 1 notification from the U.S. Treasury Department that added five new Russians to the list.

The whole exercise has apparently enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government keeps announcing tit-for-tat travel prohibitions that everyone laughs at.

Vladimir Putin (Wikimedia)

(See: Russia Bans Current and Former DOJ Officials in Retaliation for Magnitsky Act List)

“If they’re really serious they would have gone after different people,” Gonzales said of Russia’s travel ban actions. Referring to the Bush-era torture policies, he added: “The Attorney General was John Ashcroft when these techniques were approved. Even the current FBI director Jim Comey signed off on this.” Comey was Deputy Attorney General in the Bush administration. He later disavowed waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods.

Gonzales resigned as the nation’s top law enforcement officer in 2007 amid a congressional investigation into the politically motivated firings of various U.S. Attorneys around the country. He’s now the dean of the Belmont University College of Law in Nashville.

He said in the brief interview he’s not involved in politics anymore, though when we Googled around, we found mention of him in the local events listing page of the Herald News of Dayton, Tenn.

Sandwiched between blurbs about youth baseball signups and a beekeeping course offered at a church was an announcement that Gonzales would speak at an annual Reagan Day Dinner at a local high school.

“It has no effect on my life,” Gonzales said of the Russian travel prohibition. He confirmed he has no plans to go to Russia. “Of course this is all just show.”

View the list of banned U.S. officials here, and the related Russian Foreign Ministry press release here.

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Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

President Bill Clinton in 2001 declined to grant a pardon to Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-Iowa), who would later become his daughter Chelsea’s father-in-law, Politico reported. Mezvinsky faced a looming federal indictment at the time.

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