Doug Jones Featured on PBS

doug jones

NAFUSA Secretary Doug Jones will be prominently featured on PBS as part of the “America Reframed” series that follows two schools in the Birmingham area- one white, one black- as they collaborate on a production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Jones, former United States Attorney for the ND of Alabama, was the prosecutor of the the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. He is joined in the documentary by Attorney General Eric Holder; Congressman John Lewis; Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree; Pulitzer Prize winning writers Rick Bragg and Diane McWhorter; as well as actors from the 1962 film.

“Our Mockingbird” will air on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 on WORLD Channel at 8 p.m. (check local listings), Click here to view Our MOCKINGBIRD Press Release.

Former U.S. Attorneys Support Lynch for AG

Twenty five former United States Attorneys have written a letter to Senator Grassley, chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary,  and Patrick Leahy, the ranking member, supporting the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States.

In a strong showing of bipartisan support, the letter is signed by former U.S. Attorneys who have served in Republican administrations as well as Democratic administrations.

We firmly believe that Ms. Lynch will make an outstanding Attorney General. And, we are very pleased that the President has nominated a sitting U.S. Attorney to be Attorney General. Indeed, if confirmed, this would be the first time in almost two centuries that a U.S. Attorney would have been directly elevated to Attorney General.

 

As you might expect, we are proud of our service in the Justice Department and believe that serving as U.S. Attorney provides a strong background to be Attorney General. Both because of that and because of her own strong personal qualifications, we believe that Ms. Lynch has the experience,temperament, independence, integrity, and judgment to immediately assume this critically important position.

 

Click here to view the letter and the list of 25 signatories.

 

John Walsh To Head AGAC

John Walsh

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the appointment of United States Attorney John F. Walsh, shown left, for the District of Colorado as chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys (AGAC).  Attorney General Holder also appointed United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian for the Northern District of New York to serve as vice chair.  Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Throughout their respective tenures in Colorado and the Northern District of New York, John Walsh and Richard Hartunian have been thoughtful leaders of the United States Attorney community, fierce advocates for the citizens they serve, and champions of the cause of justice,” said Attorney General Holder.  “Each of them has been instrumental in addressing sensitive legal issues, handling difficult cases, and shaping and implementing critical Smart on Crime reforms.  I thank John and Richard for agreeing to lead the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee – and for lending their perspectives and deep experience to the pressing policy questions about which I, and Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch, will surely look to them for guidance and counsel.”

U.S. Attorney Walsh previously served on the AGAC from February 2011 to January 2013 as the chair of the Medical Marijuana Working Group and co-chair of the White Collar/Fraud Subcommittee.  He replaces U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Attorney General nominee Loretta E. Lynch.

Hartunian, Richard

U.S. Attorney Hartunian, shown right,  was appointed to the AGAC in April 2013 and has served as the chair of the Border and Immigration Subcommittee in addition to serving on several committees.  He replaces Acting Deputy Attorney General and former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates.

 

Stevens AUSA Suspensions Overturned By Merit Systems Protections Board

On January 2, 2015, the United States Merit Systems Protection Board voided the suspensions of two Alaska Assistant United States Attorneys, James Bottini and James Goeke, in the public corruption case against former Sen. Ted Stevens. Bottini was represented by NAFUSA Board Member Ken Wainstein.

Bottini and Goeke were members of the 2008 federal criminal prosection team of Sen. Stevens. Although a jury convicted the Senator, the government moved to vacate the conviction on the grounds that its prosecution team had failed to disclose information that was exculpatory or could have been used for impeachment. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) found that Bottini and Goeke had recklessly, although not intentionally, committed professional misconduct in handling some of this information.

The Merit Systems Protections Board found that the Department committed harmful procedural error by deviating from its Professional Misconduct Review Unit (PMRU) disciplinary process. The Board found two harmful errors. The first, the agency replaced the proposing official after he authored his memorandum explaining why he believed OPR’s findings of reckless professional misconduct were not supported. Secondly, the agency designated the PMRU Chief, rather than a subordinate PMRU attorney, to serve as the proposing official.

Although the Board did not reach the merits of the substantive charge against the appellants, based on the procedural errors, it cancelled the suspensions and ordered the agency to pay the appellants back pay, interest and other benefits.

View decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board here.

 

 

 

Lynch Awaits Confirmation Hearings

Loretta Lynch

As Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General, awaits confirmation hearings scheduled to begin before  the the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 28 and 29, Matt Apuzzo on The New York Times profiled her in today’s paper.

In an article entitled Nominee for Attorney General Less an Activist Than Holder, Apuzzo writes,

Ms. Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to become the next attorney general, is easy to misread. Mr. Obama predicted that she would carry on the legacy of Eric H. Holder Jr., an African-American who proudly declared himself an activist and became the administration’s most outspoken voice on race.

But while Ms. Lynch shares Mr. Holder’s views on issues such as the strained relations between the police and minorities, her friends and colleagues describe someone cautious and comfortable staying in the background who sees her role as that of a traditional prosecutor and not a civil rights advocate. Those differences are likely to become clear when confirmation hearings on her nomination begin in the Senate in the next few weeks.

 

The Times quotes Ronald T. Hosko as one of “Mr. Holder’s most vocal critics.” Hosko is president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and a former assistant director of the F.B.I. Hosko offered only praise for Lynch,

Mr. Hosko said his old colleagues had told him to expect an aggressive prosecutor and a reluctant political figure.

“It was all very, very positive,” he said. “I haven’t heard any reports that she’s weak in the knees, that the office is afraid.”

 

The Times also quotes Paul Fishman, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, “It’s never about Loretta, said Fishman. “It’s always about the work.”

As Lynch awaits the Senate hearings, Sally Yates also awaits confirmation as the Deputy Attorney General. Jim Cole has left the Department to return to private practice. Eric Holder has announced, however, that he will remain in office until his successor is confirmed.

Mueller Releases Report in NFL Investigation

Robert Mueller

NAFUSA member Robert Mueller, the former F.B.I. director, was retained by the N.F.L. to investigate how the league handled the domestic abuse case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Mueller released his findings last Thursday, January 8, 2015.

Mueller found that the N.F.L. and Commissioner Roger Goodell did not have or view the video that showed Rice punching his fiancee in an elevator before Goodell suspended Rice for two games in July. But the league made little effort to pursue the case even after it “possessed substantial information suggesting a serious event had occurred inside the elevator,” according to Mueller’s report. Mueller concluded that the league was aware of the magnitude of the encounter but nevertheless agreed to a light punishment of Rice.

Click here to view Mueller’s Report of the Ray Rice Domestic Violence Case

Stern Interviewed on Boston Bombing Trial

AMI Don Stern photo

As jury selection is scheduled to begin today, NAFUSA Immediate Past President Donald Stern, former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, currently with Affiliated Monitors, and Stephanie Roberts Hartung, a professor at Suffolk University Law School, discuss the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They speak with June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”

Click here to hear the recording from January 2, 2015.

 

Heffelfinger Named Co-Chair of Judicial Selection Committee in Minnesota

Tom Heffelfinger

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken announced on December 29, 2014, the formation of a judicial selection committee to assist them in making a recommendation to the President to fill a vacancy on Minnesota’s federal district court that was created by Chief Judge Michael J. Davis’s decision to assume senior status. Judge Davis sent a letter to President Obama announcing he would retire from regular active service as a United States District Court Judge in August of 2015 and continue to serve as a senior judge.

The Committee is co-chaired by NAFUSA member Thomas Heffelfinger, shown above, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota under Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and current partner at Best & Flanagan, and R. Ann Huntrods, a partner at Briggs and Morgan and former head of that firm’s employment law practice group

NAFUSA Looks to 2015

 

Matt Orwig

NAFUSA President Matt Orwig, shown left, has begun plans for the 2015 conference to be held in Scottsdale, Arizona at The Phoenician on October 15-18, 2015, with a special conference rate of $325 per night. Registration will not begin until July, but mark your calendar now.

The NAFUSA Board and Officers will hold their spring meeting in Nashville May 14-17, 2015, at The Hermitage Hotel. As is the custom, board members will pay their own travel and hotel expense.

 

 

Greg Vega

President Elect Greg Vega, shown right, has announced that the 2016 NAFUSA conference will be held on October 6-9, 2016, in San Diego at the world famous Hotel Del Coronado with a fabulous conference rate of $295 per night.

 

 

 

NAFUSA begins 2015 with 256 active dues paying members, including 20 senior members and 55 lifetime members. Invoices for 2015 dues will be sent via email in January, with a due date of February 28, 2015. But there is no need to wait. Send your check payable to NAFUSA to Rich Rossman, at the address below. Better yet, join your 55 colleagues who are life members. See a list of lifers on the link at the top of the home page, including Ron Tenpas, the latest to become a life member, having done so on December 31, 2014. Regular dues are $150 per calendar year; $50 for seniors (fully retired and over 70) and $1500 for lifetime.

Mike McKay

The NAFUSA Foundation, a separate 501(c)(3) tax-deductible entity, continues its drive to raise an additional $1 million reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer(s) of Tom Wales, the Assistant United States Attorney who was murdered on October 11, 2001 at his home, in what is believed to have been a work related assassination. The Foundation has raised $405,000 to date, to supplement the $1 million offered by DOJ. A pledge is only called if someone comes forward with information and the government determines that the person qualifies for payment of the reward funds put up by the government. If payments are ever made, they will be tax-deductible. If you have not made a pledge, and would like to, contact Foundation President Mike McKay, shown left, whose contact information is listed on the member directory on the home page.

In addition, the Foundation has announced it will undertake a second project: funding grants to U.S. Attorney Offices throughout the country to fund projects not normally paid by DOJ but consistent with NAFUSA principles. The NAFUSA board voted to transfer $25,000 of NAFUSA funds to the Foundation as seed money for this important initiative. In addition, the 2015 dues invoices will have a line where you can make a separate tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation for this purpose.

In January we will also begin to solicit 2015 sponsors. Our sponsors are critical to the success of our annual conferences, which would not be possible without their financial assistance. The Board has decided that for 2015, sponsors at the $15K level and above will continue to have an event (such as the Thursday evening reception) named in their honor and receive up to 4 complimentary registrations. Sponsors at the $10K level will also receive up to 4 complimentary registrations. Sponsors at he $5K level will receive two complimentary registrations. As soon as checks are received, sponsor links will be added to the home page and appear in every newsletter for the remainder of the calendar year. Recognition will also be made in all conference materials. Contact Rich Rossman for more details.