Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona’
Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Lodge was named an Arizona Superior Court judge in Coconino County by Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday.

Lodge has been with the U.S. Attorney’s Office since 1989 and now serves as the branch chief of the Flagstaff office. His prosecutions have focused on procurement fraud, white collar offenses and violent crimes occurring on northern Arizona Indian reservations. In addition, he served as the U.S. Attorney’s Office tribal liaison from 1995 to 1999.

From 1981 to 1989 he worked as a judge advocate general in the Army.

“Mr. Lodge is known as one of the finest prosecutors in the State of Arizona,” Brewer said n a prepared statement. “His legal experience and outstanding personal and professional reputation make him well qualified to be a Superior Court judge.”

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Dennis Burke, the new U.S. Attorney in Arizona, said the immigration system in the United States is “broken” and “does not reflect economic reality.”

In an interview for a cover story in Arizona Attorney magazine, Burke also said:  ”We’ve created a market for human smuggling that accompanies an already-existing drug-smuggling industry, which flourishes in Arizona. What we have here is a third-world economy next to the most prosperous economy in the world.”

Burke is a former top aide to Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor who is now the Homeland Security secretary. Burke is also chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee border and immigration law enforcement subcommittee.

In Arizona, “we have a combination of very intense border issues that can be violent and drive a lot of the immigration debate in this country,” Burke told the magazine.

More from the interview:

“I’ve believed for a long time that a lot of it boils down to an immigration system that’s been broken. It’s less broke than it has been in the past, because resources have gone into it. But we have a visa system and caps on the number of individuals allowed into this country that have been arbitrary. The result is that the trade for and the smuggling of actual humans in and out of the country becomes an incredibly profitable business. And since it’s an illegal business, it ends up becoming very violent.”

Burke said he hopes his office can help advance comprehensive immigration reform. “We have an obligation to show that we can secure our border under the current system, so that reform can be achieved through Congress. I think the District can… lay a predicate for the fact that overall comprehensive reform can be accomplished because we’re doing our best to secure the border here.”

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Joe Arpaio (Gov)

A federal grand jury will decide whether to indict Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio next Wednesday, reports The Associated Press. Arpaio has been under investigation by both the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department for allegations of abuse of power and discrimination, respectively.

The Phoenix Business Journal reported that the grand jury will look at the abuse of power allegations against Arpaio and the sheriff’s office. The allegations of discrimination and are part of a separate investigation, and if the Civil Rights Division decides to pursue a case, it would be filed in civil court.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix declined to comment, writes the Phoenix Business Journal.

We reported in December that the Justice Department set up a telephone tip-line as part of its probe of the sheriff. Arpaio, the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff,” has gained notoriety for ordering his deputies to descend on Latino neighborhoods to arrest illegal immigrants. His deputies have arrested thousands of undocumented aliens during these roundups.

The federal case being investigated by the FBI, however, revolved around accusations that Arpaio retaliated against anyone who criticized him or his policies on illegal immigration.

One former Arizona U.S. Attorney fired during the 2006 purge is representing one of the targets of the state’s controversial sheriff. Ex-U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton’s client, Maricopa County, Ariz., supervisor Don Stapley, a Republican, has been arrested twice by deputies of Arpaio. Stapley has been a major critic of the sheriff’s tough stance on illegal immigration. Other Arpaio opponents who he is accused of retaliating against include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, ex-New Times staffer John Dougherty, Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey, VVM CEO Jim Larkin, wrote the New Times blog back in October.

A local CBS news station in Arizona did a yearlong investigation of  Arpaio, which can be viewed below. It features David Iglesias, another Republican former U.S. Attorney for Arizona who was fired by the Bush administration during what an Inspector General report concluded was a politically motivated campaign. Iglesias says he couldn’t believe what Arpaio is accused of doing could happen in the United States.

Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Criminal prosecutions since 1989. (Courtesy of TRAC)

Federal prosecutions soared in the 2009 fiscal year, reaching a record high of 169,612.

The 9 percent increase over the previous year was driven by cases filed against immigration violators, according to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Immigration prosecutions shot up 15.7 percent, and amounted to more than half of all criminal cases brought by the federal government.

Meanwhile, drug, weapons and white-collar cases were up only slightly or declined.

Experts told The New York Times the jump stems from efforts during the Bush administration to step up immigration enforcement and expedite prosecutions. In addition to increasing the number of Border Patrol agents, the Bush administration launched Operation Streamline, which promoted mass processing of plea deals in immigrant cases. The Obama administration has continued the policy. The Obama administration was in power for more than two-thirds of fiscal 2009.

Immigration cases are disposed of in an average of two days, and they are rarely turned down by prosecutors. White-collar cases typically linger for about 460 days, and prosecutors reject about half those referred to them by law enforcement agencies.

In Arizona, where nearly a quarter of the immigration cases were processed, Operation Streamline has run into trouble. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over the state, recently held that the process of mass pleadings violates the federal rule that shields defendants from being coerced into a guilty plea, according to the Times.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who was confirmed by the Senate in September, has said border enforcement is a top priority.

Arizona is also home to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose tough enforcement of immigration laws have led to the arrest of thousands of illegal immigrants. He has been accused of unfairly targeting Latinos in his crime sweeps, traffic stops and immigration raids. Arpaio denies wrongdoing, saying his officers are simply enforcing the law.

The Justice Department has set up a telephone tip-line as part an investigation of Arpaio, known as “Sheriff Joe.”

Click here for the full NYT story, and click here for a summary of TRAC’s findings.

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
Eric Holder (DOJ)

Eric Holder (DOJ)

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced nine appointees to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys.

In August, Holder tapped Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones to chair the committee, an influential policy-making and advisory body that serves as the voice of the U.S. Attorneys at Main Justice.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, of Illinois’ Northern District, served as interim chairman before Jones was confirmed. Chicago’s top prosecutor, a Republican appointee who has been recommended for a second tour of duty, will remain on the committee.

The nine new members are listed below. Click on their names for a summary of their Senate questionnaires.

  • Preet Bharara, of the Southern District of New York
  • Dennis Burke, of Arizona
  • Jenny Durkan, of the Western District of Washington
  • Paul Fishman, of New Jersey
  • Neil MacBride, of the Eastern District of Virginia
  • Peter Neronha, of Rhode Island
  • Joyce Vance, of the Northern District of Alabama
  • Channing Phillips, acting U.S attorney in the District of Columbia
  • John Davis, chief of the criminal division of the federal prosecutors’ office in Alexandria, will represent the views of Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

They will each serve two-year terms.

The Senate so far has confirmed 18 of 93 U.S. Attorneys. One nominee is waiting for approval by the full Senate, and 11 more await a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Holder, in a statement, said he would rely heavily on the the AGAC as the department works to curb violent crime and gang violence, promote civil rights, police the marketplace and protect national security.

The AGAC’s other members, who were appointed during the Bush administration, include U.S. Attorney Leura Canary, of  Middle District of Alabama; Rod Rosenstein, of Maryland; Brett Tolman, of Utah; and Gretchen Witt, the civil chief in the District of New Hampshire.

Regulations require only that the committee have an “appropriate” number of members.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Dennis K. Burke (Georgetown, University of Arizona Law) is nominated to replace Diane J. Humetewa as U.S. Attorney in the District of Arizona, who steps down on Aug. 2.

Burke has a political background. From 2003 to 2008, he was then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano’s (D) chief of staff, and he followed her to Washington when she became secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Burke gave $2000 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in January 2008, election records show.

In the 1990s, he worked on Capitol Hill and in the White House, and served brief stints at Main Justice.

His vitals:

  • Born in Chicago in 1962.
  • Is currently Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s senior adviser on border security and law enforcement.
  • Was Napolitano’s chief of staff from 2003 to 2008, when she served governor of Arizona. Was also Napolitano’s chief deputy and a special assistant attorney general during her tenure as state attorney general.
  • Was a member of Barack Obama’s presidential transition team, specializing in homeland security.
  • From 1997 to 1999, was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Arizona, prosecuting drug cases. (He has tried four cases to verdict, one as lead counsel.) He was briefly detailed to Main Justice as acting head of the Office of Legislative Affairs, where he had worked as a special counsel earlier in his career.
  • Was a senior policy analyst in the Clinton White House from 1995 to 1994, working on the Domestic Policy Council.
  • In his first major assignment as lawyer, Burke was majority counsel to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on patents, copyrights and trademarks from 1989 to 1994. He also worked on the confirmations of three Supreme Court Justices — David Souter, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Has served on the boards of several non-profits, including the Arizona Economic Resource Organization, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and the Center for Law in the Public Interest.
  • Has received accolades from a range of groups, including Arizona Latino Research Enterprise (2008 Exemplary Leadership Award), Equality Arizona (2008 Individual Award) , Planned Parenthood (2007 Public Service Award), Arizona National Guard (2006 Minuteman Award), and the National Association of Police Organizations (1997 Supporter of the Year).
  • In 2004, joined the Phoenix Country Club, which has a history of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and religion. That was “many years before I became a Member, and it is quite clear no vestiges exist in policy or practice,” Burke wrote in his committee questionnaire. Except for the gender part, that is. The club was embroiled in a controversy over its separate dining facilities for men and women. Burke said he wrote to the club, voicing his objections, and lobbied to have the policy changed. He “submitted his resignation” to the club in 2008, though he said he is still technically a member until someone else buys his share. (The club recently settled a lawsuit filed by the Arizona attorney general, putting an end to separate dining.)
  • Has never held a formal role in a political campaign but he has “volunteered in different capacities for numerous candidates at all levels and assisted in other party activities involving elections.”
  • Lists a net worth of $576,000. He owns two rental properties and an undeveloped plot worth $260,000. And he has about $15,000 tied up in securities.

Click here for his full questionnaire.