Georgetown Announces the Janet Reno Endowment

Janet Reno

On June 20, 2016, Georgetown University announced a new endowment focusing on disadvantaged children, and youth and families involved in the juvenile justice, child welfare and related care systems to honor “Janet Reno’s legacy as America’s first female Attorney General and her advocacy for justice and equality”.

“Janet Reno is a passionate, lifelong advocate for children and families,” said McCourt School of Public Policy Dean Edward Montgomery at Georgetown. “Georgetown and the McCourt School are honored to support and sustain her legacy through the establishment of this endowment.”

The Distinguished Advisory Committee includes former AG Eric Holder, former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, former Governor Deval Patrick, former Associate AG Tom Perrelli, and  former AAG Laurie Robinson.

Click here for more information and to view the 11 minute video of her career.

Ken Sukhia is Running for Congress

Ken Sukhia

NAFUSA member Ken Sukhia is running for Congress in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. In a letter signed by NAFUSA members Mike McKay, Jack Selden, Guy Lewis, John Smietanka, Joe Whitley, Mike Norton and Greg Miller, they write:

As an AUSA and as United States Attorney for Northern Florida, Ken had a reputation as a firm but fair prosecutor who ran a mature and highly productive office.  In the private sector, he fought in both state and federal court to successfully defend Florida’s school voucher program, Florida’s Parental Notification of Abortion Act and Florida’s law regulating payments to and from lobbyists.  He has represented two of Florida’s Governors and served as President George W. Bush’s federal trial counsel in the 2000 recount battle.  Ken was also an advisor to the Florida legal team in the first case challenging the Affordable Care Act.


We all know Ken for his humor and his winsome personality, but he also has a heart to do right by our country and to stand up for the principles that made our country great. We know Ken will go to Washington to fight every day for the principles we all hold dear.

Sukhia’s campaign received a boost with the “wholehearted endorsement” of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who said, “Ken and I fought shoulder-to-shoulder as fellow U.S. Attorneys in South Alabama and North Florida enforcing our immigration laws and prosecuting violent criminals and narco-terrorists.”

Learn more at Ken’s website.


Whitley Urges Georgia Gov to Veto “Religious Freedom Bill”

Joe Whitley

Joe Whitley

When the Georgia House and Senate passed the “Religious Freedom Bill” in April, NAFUSA member Joe Whitely wrote a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal urging a veto, stating that the bill would allow “a broad range of discrimination that will likely meet with many costly legal challenges.”  He told the governor that the bill “does nothing of substance to protect religious liberty and expression that is not already protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

Whitely had performed an analysis of the bill on behalf of Georgia Equality, a group that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Whitely told the governor that the bill “seems intended to send a message to LGBT  Georgians, among others, that they are second-class citizens.”

The First Amendment already protects all Americans’ rights to speech, to worship freely, and to be free from a state-established creed, and the United States already has a robust tradition and body of law protecting free expression,” he said. “It is difficult for me to imagine any form of religious expression that is not already protected by the First Amendment or federal statutory law.

A veto, Whitley said, “is the right and courageous thing to do.” A short time later, Gov. Deal did veto the bill.

Click here to read Whitley letter to Gov. Deal. Whitley also sent a similar letter to the Speaker of the Georgia House.

Vega Supports Judge Criticized By Trump

Greg Vega

Greg Vega

NAFUSA President Greg Vega has known United States District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel since the ninth grade and was the best man at Judge Curiel’s wedding. So when The New York Times researched the judges life, Vega was a natural interview.

Judge Curiel is the presiding judge in the lawsuit filed by former students of Trump University. Trump, upset with some of the court’s rulings, has made public comments critical of the judge, saying the judge “happens to be, we believe, Mexican” and suggesting the judge is biased because of Trump’s calls to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from coming into the U.S. through Mexico.

Judge Curiel was born in Indiana, to parents who immigrated from Mexico. Vega, who father also was Mexican, is also from Indiana. They worked together when Judge Curiel served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of California where Vega became the U.S. Attorney. Judge Curiel had a reputation as a “hard-charging prosecutor” in fighting Mexican drug lords. When a plot was exposed in which the Mexican drug cartel planned to assassinate Curiel, he spent much of a year in hiding under the protection of U.S. marshals. When Vega was asked by The Times how the judge is handling the “unfriendly glare of the Trump case, Vega replied, “He’s cool. I don’t think he’s giving it a second thought.”

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel

Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel

Click here to read the NYT article “Judge Faulted by Trump Has Faced a Lot Worse”

Vega was also interviewed on NPR by Nina Totenberg. Listen here.


Dettelbach Joins NAFUSA and Rejoins BakerHostetler

Steve Dattelbach

Steve Dattelbach

BakerHostetler announced that Steven M. Dettelbach, the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, rejoined the firm on February 15, in its Cleveland office as a Partner in the Litigation Group and co-leader of the firm’s national White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team. Dettelbach is also one of NAFUSA’s newest members. He will be in BakerHostetler’s Cleveland and Washington, D.C. offices, following his years of public service in the capital with the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Department of Justice as a prosecutor and more recently a high-ranking participant from the Northern District in many of the Department’s national initiatives. Dettelbach has served as U.S. Attorney for nearly seven years and is well known for his work in the areas of cyber security, corruption, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Dettelbach had been a partner at BakerHostetler from 2006 until 2009 when he was nominated as U.S. Attorney by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate.

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McKay Celebrates Baseball in Seattle

Slade Gorton, center, with Mike McKay, right

Slade Gorton, center, with Mike McKay, right

Last week there was a gathering at Safeco Field in Seattle to celebrate that the Mariners are still in Seattle. NAFUSA Foundation President Mike McKay was in the thick of it. At the luncheon, the Mariners honored former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, the man who put together the public-private, international coalition that saved the team from leaving town 25 years ago. McKay wrote an Op-Ed about the event, published in the May 11, 2016, The Seattle TimesThe unlikely champion who saved the Seattle Mariners.

McKay is a member of McKay Chadwell, and is chair of the Slade Gorton International Policy Center Advisory Committee and the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington under President George H.W. Bush. He is also a past president of NAFUSA.

Eileen O’Connor Forms Boutique

Eileen O'Connor

Eileen O’Connor

Effective May 1, 2016, NAFUSA member Eileen O’Connor moved her practice from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, to her own office, Law Office of Eileen J. O’Connor, PLLC. Solely, or in collaboration or consultation with other attorneys,  O’Connor advises on, and represents clients in connection with, civil and criminal federal tax disputes, from administrative investigations through trial and appellate proceedings. She formulates and advises on regulatory and legislative solutions to disputes with government agencies. In addition to designing winning trial strategies and appellate arguments, she has presented oral arguments in the United States Supreme Court and in United States Courts of Appeals, and has testified at numerous committee hearings in United States Senate and House of Representatives on issues relating to tax administration and enforcement.

In addition to her recent move, with co-counsel, she filed amicus briefs supporting challenges to HHS’s imposition of its contraceptive mandate on religious employers.  Those briefs include an amicus brief in support of the petition, and then on the merits, in the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and in support of a petition for rehearing en banc in the 11th Circuit in the case of EWTN v. Burwell.  In his response to a question during rebuttal at oral argument in the Little Sisters case, Paul Clement cited her brief.

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Booth Goodwin Joins Goodwin & Goodwin and NAFUSA

Booth Goodwin

Booth Goodwin

NAFUSA’s newest member, Booth Goodwin, former United States Attorney in the Southern District of West Virginia, has returned to private practice at the law firm of Goodwin & Goodwin, LLP in Charleston, West Virginia. Goodwin’s work as United States Attorney was featured and praised by The New York Times, 60 Minutes and other national and state media for his successful prosecutions in public and corporate corruption cases, most particularly for holding individual corporate officers accountable for criminal activity. Goodwin is most known for his office’s investigation into the 2010 Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine disaster. The UBB investigation resulted in the conviction of five individuals and a $220 million agreement with the successor to Massey Energy Company which owned the UBB mine at the time of the disaster. One of the individuals, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, was convicted in December 2015 after a two-month trial of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety laws. Blankenship is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

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U.S. Attorneys Neronha and Huber Appointed to AGAC

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced on May 18, 2016, the appointments of Peter F. Neronha, U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, and John Huber, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC), effective immediately.

Peter Neronha

Peter Neronha

U.S. Attorney Neronha was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 31, 2009, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 15, 2009, as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island.  In 2002, Neronha joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island.  As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he  prosecuted criminal cases involving political corruption, white collar crime, drug and firearm offenses.  When he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he was named coordinator of the District’s Project Safe Neighborhoods, a Department of Justice initiative against gun crimes.  Prior to being named U.S. Attorney, he was Chief of the District’s Organized Crime Strike Force.  Neronha previously served on the AGAC during 2009-2011.

John Huber

John Huber

U.S. Attorney Huber was nominated by President Barack Obama on Feb. 4, 2015, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 10, 2015, as U.S. Attorney for Utah.  Prior to confirmation as the U.S. Attorney, Huber prosecuted a number of high profile federal cases and coordinated task forces that focused on violent crime and counter-terrorism.  He also served as chief of the National Security Section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office before being asked to serve as the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney, a member of the office’s executive management team.

Pigott Opines On Need For Criminal Justice Reform

Brian Pigott

Brad Pigott

On May 17, 2016, NAFUSA member Brad Pigott penned a guest column for The Clarion-Ledger Pigott: US needs criminal justice reform, in which he describes how a bipartisan group of legislators in Mississippi led the enactment of a task force recommendations aimed at refocusing resources to towards the more serious crimes. Pigott, along with several other NAFUSA members, is part of the 130 current and former law enforcement officials from around the country who have formed Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.

Pigott opines,

We think it’s possible to reduce crime and incarceration at the same time. Through both experience and data, we know that reducing unnecessary arrests, prosecutions and incarceration can reduce recidivism and strengthen relationships with the communities we protect. Furthermore, we must use the limited resources available in the most efficient and effective way possible, proving to our communities we value the funding they provide to us.

Pigott served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi 1994-2001.