Posts Tagged ‘Executive Office for the United States Attorneys’
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

The top brass of the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney offices across the nation converged in Washington to honor more than 150 prosecutors and other government officials Wednesday at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director’s 27th annual awards ceremony.

(Left to right) EOUSA Director H. Marshall Jarrett; award recipient Charles T. Miller, a former U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of West Virginia; Attorney General Eric Holder and current U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia.

Director H. Marshall Jarrett of EOUSA, which is the liaison between DOJ headquarters and the 94 U.S. Attorney offices, said the award recipients handled cases that are “important and interesting.” The honorees, who came from 46 federal judicial districts, received awards in a dozen categories that highlighted the officials’ work on issues including criminal, civil, appellate, administrative and Indian Country matters.

“Much good work happens at the U.S. Attorneys’ offices,” Jarrett said. “But with everyone’s demanding schedules, we often don’t have time to reflect on the accomplishments. That’s why it is important to set aside a day like today when we can recognize the accomplishments of the exceptional men and women of the Department of Justice and our partners in law enforcement.”

Award recipients included several law enforcement authorities, up-and-coming Assistant U.S. Attorneys, veteran prosecutors and senior officials.

Among the senior officials honored were four former U.S. Attorneys who held the post in an acting, interim or court-appointed capacity for several months during the Barack Obama administration.

Terrence Berg, who served as interim U.S. Attorney from 2008 until earlier this year in Eastern District of Michigan, walked away with an award for Superior Performance in a Managerial or Supervisory Role for his efforts in the Middle District of Georgia. Berg spent several months this year as a First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the office, helping boost productivity and morale there.

William J. Flanagan, who was an acting U.S. Attorney from 2009 to until earlier this year in the Western District of Louisiana, took home an award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team for his successful prosecution of former state judges Michael Walker and Vernon Claville on corruption charges in 2008. His son, Robert, made national headlines this year when he and activists, including conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, were charged with entering the offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) under false pretenses. Robert Flanagan was sentenced to two years probation and 75 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.

Michael L. Levy, who led the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2009 until earlier this year, also received a Superior Performance by a Litigative Team award. He got the award for his work on the successful sex tourism prosecution of Anthony Mark Bianchi in 2007.

Charles T. Miller, who led the Southern District of West Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2005 until earlier this year, received an executive achievement award for his 25 years of service to the DOJ.

Attorney General Eric Holder commended all the award winners for the personal sacrifices they made to accomplish their work.

“Each of this year’s award recipients should take great pride in the fact that their efforts have made a positive and lasting impact on the citizens we serve and will leave an enduring imprint on the Department’s work for years to come,” Holder said.

See all the award recipients here and read more about them here.

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

It wasn’t because of controversies about Mary Beth Buchanan. Or Chris Christie. The Department of Justice swears.

New rules that  ensure U.S. Attorneys don’t travel on the taxpayer dime for political purposes are the result of a review process that found the previous guidelines to be confusing, the department said.

Mary Beth Buchanan (Mary Beth Buchanan for Congress)

“The previous policies and procedures were admittedly inconsistent — and the new memo was a result of a comprehensive review of all travel rules and regulations,” Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in a statement. “Moving forward, this memo will serve as the single set of guidelines for the U.S. Attorney community, and all other guidance will be based off this memo.”

The Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys updates policies and procedures as needed, Schwartz said. “These updated procedures reflect goals of improved transparency and stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” she added.

The new guidelines came to light earlier this week in a story by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the travel records of Buchanan, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Those records indicated that Buchanan spent more than half her time on the road, costing taxpayers $450,000.

Appointed during the George W. Bush administration, Buchanan resigned Nov. 16 to run for the Republication nomination for the 4th congressional district in Pennsylvania. She lost that race in May to former Department of Homeland Security official Keith Rothfus.

In New Jersey, a former U.S. Attorney’s travel expenses were an issue in last year’s governor’s race. Incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain travel records for Christie, his Republican opponent. The records showed the prosecutor often exceeded his government allowance and stayed in luxury hotels while serving as the state’s chief federal prosecutor. Christie won the election.

The new travel policy memo, sent to U.S. Attorneys’ offices in February and authored by Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Director H. Marshall Jarrett, said the revamped procedures will  ensure compliance with travel policies; strengthen internal controls and oversight of U.S. Attorneys’ travel in a user-friendly process; and maintain the integrity and reputation the U.S. Attorney position. The procedures were implemented March 1.

U.S. Attorneys can approve their own travel within their district, but must get approval from the Director of EOUSA or the Deputy Director for Administration and Management if they use premium class travel accommodations or actual subsistence is requested, according to the memo.

When traveling outside of their districts domestically, the U.S. Attorney must notify the Executive Office at least five days in advance of planned departure date. If the travel is being reimbursed by a non-federal source, they must submit their request 10 days in advance and the request will be reviewed by the EOUSA’s General Counsel’s Office. Foreign travel requires authorizations to be submitted 15 days in advance, according to the new regulations.

Under the guidelines, the EOUSA will conduct audits of a sample of each U.S. Attorney’s travel authorizations and vouchers every six months to ensure offices are complying with the regulations.

DOJ rules state that travel conducted by those in higher level positions at Justice Department headquarters has to be authorized by either the Deputy Attorney General or the Associate Attorney General.

The memo is embedded below.

USA Travel

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Recommendations by the Justice Department Office of Inspector General to address a rising number of threats against federal prosecutors are a step in the “right direction,” the president of an advocacy group for Assistant U.S. Attorneys told Main Justice.

Improving security for federal prosecutors is a top priority of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, president Steven Cook told Main Justice in an interview. His group has urged the Justice Department for several years to take action.

“We’re obviously pleased that the OIG is looking at this issue,” said Cook, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee. “We’re not surprised that statistics support what we know in the field.”

Improper communications and threats to federal prosecutors and federal judges more than doubled during the mid-2000’s, according to the OIG report. The number of threats against U.S. Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys increased by almost 26 percent between fiscal years 2007 and 2008 alone, according to the U.S. Marshals Service, which provides protection for federal prosecutors and judges.

Credit: Justice Department

The OIG review concluded that many threats were not reported in a timely and proper fashion. It also found that U.S. Marshals do not always provide an appropriate response to threats or always work effectively with other law enforcement groups and the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, which oversees the nation’s 94 federal prosecuting offices.

According to the report, the Office of Inspector General recommends that:

-U.S. Marshals “clearly explain to protectees the detrimental effect that delays or the failure to report has on the security provided.”

-U.S. Marshals “update its security handbook to emphasize both the importance of immediately reporting threats to the USMS and the consequences of delays or failures to report.”

-”EOUSA amend the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual to clearly instruct the AUSAs that all threats must be reported promptly to the District Office Security Manager. Such instruction should include an explanation of the detrimental effect that delays or the failure to report has on security provided.”

-”U.S. Marshals review trends in reporting timelines annually and provide the results of that analysis to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and EOUSA for their use in judicial conferences and attorney training seminars.”

-”U.S. Marshals implement controls to ensure that required risk assessments are completed and documented in the USMS threat database, including the assignment of risk levels, and that the protective measures provide in response to each threat also be documented in the USMS threat database.”

-”U.S. Marshals establish internal controls at USMS headquarters to ensure that the USMS threat database contains full and accurate information, including ensuring that district offices regularly enter data in the ‘FBI Notified’ and notification date fields.”

-U.S. Marshals “coordinate with the FBI to establish a memorandum of understanding to formalize the coordination of protective and criminal investigations.”

-U.S. Marshals “ensure that all districts send the required notification letters to local law enforcement agencies and that the letters contain a working number that connects directly to the local USMS duty officer.”

-”EOUSA provide, in consultation with the USMS, sufficient training to EOUSA and USAO staff assigned threat response duties.”

-U.S. Marshals “and EOUSA sign a memorandum of understanding that defines their roles and responsibilities in protecting the U.S. Attorneys and AUSAs who receive threats.”

-”EOUSA provide guidance and periodic reminders to USAOs of the requirement to submit Urgent Reports immediately when a U.S. Attorney or AUSA is threatened.”

-”EOUSA revise the Urgent Report template so that it includes a requirement to provide at least the following information: name and position of targeted employee; name and location of the person making the threat, if known; date the threat was made, or date the target was made aware of the threat; date the District Office Security Manager was informed of the threat; date the USMS and FBI were notified; and date the USAO submitted the Urgent Report to EOUSA.”

-”EOUSA establish guidance to require the District Office Security Managers to send updated information via Urgent Reports at regular intervals to inform EOUSA of the status of USAO, USMS and FBI actions to protect the threatened AUSA.”

EOUSA Deputy Director/Counsel to the Director Norman Wong said in the report that his office agreed with the recommendations.

“The safety and security of each and every employee within the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs), and within EOUSA, are of paramount importance to EOUSA and the USAOs,” Wong wrote. He added: “We believe the recommendations from this report will have a positive impact on the USAO community.”

U.S. Marshals Associate Director Robert J. Finnan II said in the report that the service concurred with almost all of the suggestions. But Finnan said it is “impractical and unnecessary” for the threat notification letters to list a working, direct number for a U.S. Marshals duty officer because the officials rotate often.

“We have made great strides over the past few years in our judicial security mission, and as the U.S. Marshals Service believes there is always room to perfect the process, we will carry out the report’s recommendations with that goal in mind,” U.S. Marshals spokesperson Jeff Carter said in a statement.

Cook said NAAUSA would also like the Justice Department to address other security matters not discussed in the redacted OIG report released today.

The group would like the government to provide federal prosecutors with home alarms and secure parking, he said. The organization is also asking DOJ to give certain prosecutors federal firearm licenses for self defense, the NAAUSA president said.

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The former Northern District of Mississippi Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted trial lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs — and recently published a book about it — was honored last week for his work on the high-profile case.

Tom Dawson, who retired in January and returned to the office on an usual contract basis until June, was honored alongside AUSA Bob Norman for their work prosecuting the billionaire tobacco litigator and his associates in a major judicial bribery scandal in Mississippi.

The award from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys cited Dawson and Norman for:

their outstanding work on the investigation and prosecution of United States v. Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, et al. Their unparalleled dedication, skill, and judgment in this highly sensitive case with national attention resulted in convictions of all defendants. The team performed flawlessly, exhibiting extraordinary performance under pressure while executing tactical and strategic decisions in the successful prosecution that exposed a pattern of attempts to influence the judiciary. Their work has made a lasting positive impact on the Mississippi courts, attorneys, and our system of justice

Dawson’s co-author of the book, “Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi,” is Alan Lange, who’s been a vocal conservative critic of trial lawyers on his popular Mississippi blog, Y’all Politics. Lange has called the Scruggs case the “culmination of decades of dirty, backwater politics.” Read Lange’s blog post about the award here.

Read our previous report on Dawson’s book here.

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

The recently retired lead prosecutor in the case against Mississippi trial lawyer Richard “Dickie” Scruggs has written an insider’s account of the sensational judicial bribery scandal that sent the billionaire tobacco litigator, his son and several associates to prison.

Veteran former prosecutor Tom Dawson teamed up with conservative Mississippi legal blogger Alan Lange to examine the Scruggs case and the conviction of another Mississippi trial lawyer named Paul Minor.

Trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs, who pleaded guilty in a judicial bribery investigation, is the subject of a new book by the former lead prosecutor on his case. (Biloxi Sun Herald)

Trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs, who pleaded guilty in a judicial bribery investigation, is the subject of a new book by the former lead prosecutor on his case. (Biloxi Sun Herald)

“Kings of Tort: The True Story of Dickie Scruggs, Paul Minor and Two Decades of Political and Legal Manipulation in Mississippi” will be published in December.

The book will attempt to “connect the dots,” exploring how Scruggs and other principals in the investigation ascended to fame before plunging into notoriety, Dawson said in an interview.

“The interesting thing about that is it brings an insider perspective,” Dawson said. “I’m sure that interest has not waned any, and hopefully the book will get some attention.”

Dawson’s publisher is Oregon-based Pediment Publishing. The ambitious legal narrative appears to be a departure for the imprint, whose Web site says it specializes in commemorative and coffee-table books.

It’s infrequent, but not unheard of, for former prosecutors to write books about their biggest cases.

Vincent Bugliosi published “Helter Skelter” in 1974, an account of his prosecution of cult leader Charles Manson and his followers for murder. In 1990 Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh filed a lawsuit that unsuccessfully sought to prevent a former member of his prosecution team, Jeffrey Toobin, from publishing an insider’s account of the Reagan-era scandal.

Dawson’s project is notable for several reasons.

Not only are offshoots of the closely watched Scruggs case still alive in Mississippi. But the prosecutions sparked allegations from liberal commentators that the Bush Justice Department had targeted prominent Democrats and trial lawyers in plaintiff-friendly Mississippi, which for years was a major battleground in the conservative-led movement to change the tort system.

Dawson’s co-author, Lange, has been a vocal conservative critic of trial lawyers on his popular blog, Y’all Politics. He has called the Scruggs case the “culmination of decades of dirty, backwater politics.”

Unusual employment arrangement

The circumstances of Dawson’s employment with the Northern District of Mississippi office were unusual, raising questions about whether he may have skirted Justice Department ethics rules when he began discussing the book project with Lange last summer.

Dawson officially retired on Jan. 2, after nearly 36 years as a prosecutor. But he returned to the office on Jan. 15 under contract, working part time behind the scenes on ongoing Scruggs-related investigations until early June.

“It wouldn’t be any conflict necessarily because it was only about two days a week,” he said. “But just to remove any criticism of that, I decided to cease the contract.”

According to the Justice Department, Dawson was a part-time consultant from Jan. 15 to June 7. His contract originally was to run through the end of June.

Justice Department ethics rules advise employees wishing to undertake writing projects to be “cautious to avoid any conflict of interest with their position and to ensure that no interference with the performance of their official duties occurs.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the former prosecutor abided by the rules, which do not apply to former employees.

“Dawson’s participation in any writing did not take place until after his direct and contract employment” ended, Melissa Schwartz said.

But Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey said Dawson’s book project could raise questions about his motives while a prosecutor.

“Around here, writing a book with Alan Lange would put you squarely on the conservative side of the aisle,” Steffey said in an interview. “It reinforces in the public mind that politics at least perhaps coincided with the prosecution.”

The rise and fall of Scruggs

In the 1990s, Scruggs teamed up with Missisippi’s Democratic state Attorney General, Michael Moore, to sue major tobacco companies. One of Scrugg’s adversaries in the tobacco wars was his former fraternity brother at Ole Miss, Haley Barbour, then chairman of the Republican National Committee and an ally of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a vigorous advocate of tort reform.

Barbour was elected governor of Mississippi in 2003, a position he still holds today. The state legislature passed a Barbour-sponsored law limiting the ability to file tort claims in the state.

Scruggs reportedly earned $1 billion in fees from the tobacco litigation, and his role was memorialized in a movie, The Insider. He lived in a mansion on Mississippi’s Gulf coast and piloted his own jet. Scruggs also made millions in asbestos-related litigation and suing on behalf of Hurricane Katrina victims.

Scruggs was a generous political donor, giving to Democrats and Republicans, and is the brother-in-law of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

So there was intense media coverage in November 2007, when a federal grand jury issued an indictment charging Scruggs, his son, Zach, and three others with conspiring to bribe state judge Henry Lackey, who was presiding over a $26.5 million fee dispute involving Scruggs.

Dawson spent his career in Oxford, but for an 18-month detail on Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater team in Arkansas in the 1990s. His name appears on the docket in nearly every Scruggs-related case, and it was Dawson who asked an associate of Scruggs to wear a wire that captured the lawyer agreeing to a plan to bribe Lackey — the crucial evidence that led to Scruggs’s imprisonment and disgrace.

Today, Scruggs is serving a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2008 to conspiring to bribe Lackey. He is serving a separate and concurrent sentence for attempting to corruptly influence another state judge.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford continue to investigate Scrugg’s former associate, P.L. Blake, a Mississippi Delta farmer who reportedly was paid $50 million for helping Scruggs in the tobacco litigation in the 1990s.

Former Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter, who was accused of giving Scruggs an unfair advantage in a fee dispute in the hope the lawyer would support him for a federal judgeship, is scheduled to be sentenced in November on an obstruction of justice charge.

The Paul Minor case was less prominent in the national media but sparked its own controversies. Minor was convicted of offering a state Supreme Court justice loan guarantees for his re-election campaign. The charge against Minor was honest services mail fraud, a controversial statute used with increasing frequency in corruption cases that is now before the Supreme Court for review.

Scott Horton, who has written critically of the Minor prosecution in Harper’s magazine, wrote that “honest service mail fraud is an effort to conjure a crime which does not exist. The ‘crime’ here is purely political.”

The Justice Department has used honest services charges against people with Republican affiliations, too, most notably in the investigation of now-imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Contract employment is rare

Dawson said he bowed out of his contract with the U.S. Attorney’s office early “to work on the book in earnest,” and because he felt he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Dawson’s early termination of the contract came after Main Justice made inquiries to the Northern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney’s office about it. On June 10, the Justice Department received a Freedom of Information Act request from Main Justice for a copy of Dawson’s employment contract.

The FOIA request, despite repeated inquiries, was not fulfilled until Oct. 30, after Main Justice contacted DOJ Public Affairs for comment on Dawson’s book deal.

Although salaries of government employees are a matter of public record, the contract released under FOIA blacked out the amount paid to Dawson, citing a privacy exemption.

The contract also puts limits on what Dawson can reveal. It says Dawson “realizes the sensitive nature of the prosecution/litigation and agrees and understands that any information concerning these matters or others in the office may only be discussed with or disclosed to members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi, the Department of Justice and/or the investigative agencies.”

The contract also says: “This applies to information whether obtained as a prior AUSA or during the course of this contract.”

U.S. Attorneys Offices can enter into contracts of less than $25,000 without approval from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys offices. The department does not track how often attorney contracts are used.

Michael Battle, director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys during the Bush administration, said the contracts were typically reserved for cases like Dawson’s, in which a senior prosecutor retired amid a major investigation.

“The reason you did it for litigation is you didn’t want to lose the knowledge the attorney brought to the case,” said Battle, now a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski. Battle said he signed off on “a handful” or contract requests from U.S. Attorneys offices.

“We didn’t get a lot of them,” he said. “They usually came from districts that had a high-profile or long-standing case going on.”

Foley & Lardner’s Donna Bucella, a former U.S. Attorney in Florida and director of EOUSA during the Clinton administration, didn’t recall approving any contracts during her time at the department.

“We had termed positions but we didn’t use contract employees,” she said.

Dawson said he was unaware such contracts were possible until he was approached by U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee shortly after his retirement.

During his two-day-a-week stint as a litigation assistant, Dawson never appeared in court. His work was almost exclusively devoted to Scruggs-related investigations and litigation, but he said he gave advice to assistant U.S. attorneys working on unrelated cases if they solicited it.

“I was asked to help out because we were losing a lot of institutional knowledge so I stayed on in a part-time, hourly fashion,” he said in telephone interview over the summer. “I was, to borrow from the Godfather, a consigliere, using the experience and institutional knowledge that I gained to consult on different tactics and techniques, and doing investigations and motion practice.”

Justice Department rules require current employees to “consult” with the U.S. Attorney in charge of their offices before embarking on outside projects. The rules make no mention of the rare instances when a prosecutor has retired and come back to work on contract. But Schwartz, of the Justice Department’s public affairs office, said they apply to contract employees as well.

“I basically advised [U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee] of what I was thinking about doing, and I ended the contract early to devote myself full-time to that [book] project,” Dawson said in an interview.

Bucella, the Clinton-era EOUSA head, said in her experience, a supervisor’s approval was required for current Justice Department lawyers contemplating outside projects.

“For any Justice Department lawyer who’s going to write a book on something they’ve been involved in, there needs to be some sort of approval process,” Bucella said. “Somebody has to sign off and read the galleys at least.”

Oxford author and journalist Curtis Wilkie has also written a book about Scruggs’s rise and fall, but it has no title or publication date. Wilkie recently told The Oxford Eagle he expected it to be released sometime next year.

Mary Jacoby contributed to this report.

This post was updated on 11/02/09 @ 6:39 p.m.

U.S. attorneys’ offices have long used contract workers to fill clerical roles, often to cover budget gaps, but unbeknown to many —  including Dawson before he was approached by U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee — the Justice Department hires temp lawyers as well. They’re called “litigation assistants,” and they work behind the scenes, consulting with prosecutors, handling investigative and motions work — acting as consiglieres, as Dawson put it.
Dawson, the Northern District’s former first assistant U.S. attorney, signed a six-month contract with the office. It was terminated on June ckckc, a few weeks early. Main Justice filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for a copy of the contract on ckckc. Dawson said his work was cut short by mutual agreement. “It was time,” he said, declining to elaborate.
During his five-month stint as a litigation assistant, Dawson never appeared in court. His work was almost exclusively devoted to Scruggs-related investigations and litigation, but he said he gave advice to assistant U.S. attorneys working on unrelated cases if they solicited it.U.S. attorneys’ offices will occasionally used contract workers to fill clerical roles, often to cover budget gaps, but the Justice Department hires temp lawyers as well. U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee approached Dawson shortly after his retirement in January and asked whether Dawson was interested in staying on the Scruggs investigation part time. ”I was asked to help out because we were losing a lot of institutional knowledge so I stayed on in a part-time, hourly fashion,” Dawson told us over the summer. “I was, to borrow from the Godfather, a consigliere, using the experience and institutional knowledge that I gained to consult on different tactics and techniques, and doing investigations and motion practice.”
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Lanny Breuer (USDOJ)

Lanny Breuer (USDOJ)

After the Ted Stevens case imploded, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new training initiatives to ensure prosecutors fulfill their discovery obligations, and he formed a working group to hammer out best practices.

Apparently, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who co-chairs the group, and the gang over at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys are making good on Holder’s word.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Education, based at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C., is holding a “Criminal Case Management and Discovery Conference” in October. Check out the description:

By memorandum dated August 24, 2009, EOUSA Director Marshall Jarrett directed all United States Attorneys to immediately appoint their Senior Litigation Counsel (SLC) as the Discovery Trainer for the office and has required this person to attend the Criminal Case Management and Discovery Conference to be held at the National Advocacy Center on October 14-16, 2009. This course will focus on a variety of discovery related issues, including Brady-Giglio, Rule 16 discovery, Jencks, managing discovery pre-indictment, informants, and agent and attorney notes. In addition, each participant will receive training materials related to the subject matter of the conference to facilitate the mandatory training all AUSAs will be required to attend by the end of the year.

The discovery trainers, according to a Justice Department official, will provide guidance and periodic training to Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

(UPDATE 9/17 9:05 a.m.) Another Justice Department official told us representatives from the Criminal Division will also participate in the training.

Emmet Sullivan

Emmet Sullivan

The federal judiciary, meanwhile, is considering a proposal by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to amend Rule 16 to require prosecutors to disclose any exculpatory material to defense lawyers.

Sullivan, who dismissed the Stevens indictment at Holder’s request, appointed an outside counsel to investigate the prosecutors who handled the case for possible criminal contempt. The case was rife with government errors, and Sullivan has since been among the leading voices in the judiciary for new discovery policy.

Breuer, as criminal chief, is an ex-officio member of the conference’s Criminal Rules Committee. He is expected to state the department’s position on Sullivan’s proposal before the committee meets in October.

Monday, July 27th, 2009

U.S. attorneys are accepting more FBI referrals for prosecution, convictions are up, and prison sentences are increasing, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Data examined showed “small but consistent year-by-year changes” during the past five years, according to TRAC, which acquired the information from the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys through a Freedom of Information Act request.

For example:

  • Referrals prosecuted rose from 51 percent in FY 2004 to 58.2 percent in FY 2008.
  • Convictions from FBI referrals improved from 79.2 percent in FY 2004 to 83.5 percent in FY 2008.
  • In 2004, 10,056 individuals were sent to prison as a result of an FBI investigation and the median sentence was 30 months. The number of those sent to prison dipped slightly to 9,789, in FY 2008, but the typical sentence rose to 41 months.

The report concentrates on criminal enforcement activities tracked by federal prosecutors, but it does not thoroughly explore the classified surveillance and intelligence activities of the National Security Branch or the research activities of the Science and Technology Branch.

The data varied widely in different parts of the country. TRAC ranked the top five federal districts, based on the the proportion of FBI referrals that resulted in criminal filings:

  1. Minnesota (Minneapolis)
  2. California Central (Los Angeles)
  3. Pennsylvania Middle (Scranton)
  4. Florida South (Miami)
  5. South Carolina (Columbia)

In each, more than three quarters of the referrals begot prosecutions. The records clearinghouse also ranked the five lowest districts — in which federal prosecutors acted on slightly more than a third of the FBI referrals:

  1. Alabama Middle (Montgomery)
  2. Mississippi South (Jackson)
  3. Tennessee Middle (Nashville)
  4. Kentucky West (Louisville)
  5. West Virginia South (Charleston)
Monday, July 20th, 2009

Justice Department officials today announced plans to ramp up training and education efforts in South Carolina.

David Ogden (usdoj)

David Ogden (usdoj)

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden said the department would lease about 326,000 square feet of space on the campus of the University of South Carolina to house operations and staff for the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and new state-of-the-art courtrooms, classrooms, and meeting space for seminars and conferences.

The university is home to the National Advocacy Center, a training center for local, state and federal lawyers that opened in 1998. More than 170,000 federal and state personnel from around the country have passed through its doors. The relocation, to a building adjacent to the NAC, will save the department an estimated $42.8 million over the 20-year period of the lease, officials said.

“What we will build here will serve the cause of justice for generations to come,” Ogden said during a news conference at the NAC. He announced the project alongside Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), university President Harris Pastides, Director of EOUSA H. Marshall Jarrett and W. Walter Wilkins, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.

Click here for Ogden’s full remarks and here for remarks by Jarrett.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

United States Attorney for the District of Arizona Diane Humetewa will receive the “Women in Federal Law Enforcement Foundation President’s Award,” the Justice Department announced today.

Humetewa, who became the Arizona U.S. Attorney in December 2007, will receive the highest award given by the Women in Federal Law Enforcement Foundation at a June ceremony in Tucson, Ariz. Joining Humetewa at the event will be Assistant United States Attorneys Tina Sciocchetti of the Northern District of New York and Lisa Jennis Settel of the District of Arizona, who will receive the “2009 Top Prosecutor Award,” the Justice Department said.

We previously reported that Kristy Parker, a senior attorney in the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, will also receive the top prosecutor honor.

“All four of these honorees have risen to the top for their dedication and endurance, and we are proud to have them on our team,” Director of the Executive Office for the United States Attorneys H. Marshall Jarrett said in a statement.