Former United States Attorney Wayman Gray Sherrer, age, 86, of Oneonta, Alabama, died at his home on March 12, 2014. He is survived by his wife, Betty Rodgers Sherrer, and two children, Elizabeth Sherrer McKee and William Jefferson Sherrer. Sherrer is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law, class of 1956. He served his country as a member of the United States Marine Corps as a member of the military police prior to attending college. After graduating from law school, Wayman served for six years as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C. In 1964 he was elected County Solicitor (District Attorney) of Blount County, Alabama, for a four year term. In 1969, Wayman Sherrer was appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, Alabama. He served in that position until 1977. Wayman returned to the private practice of law in Oneonta, Alabama, in 1977, and in 2001, he was joined in the practice of law by his son. In all, Mr. Sherrer served the legal profession in Alabama for over 50 years.
As is the custom of NAFUSA, an American flag was flown over Main Justice and will be presented to the Sherrer family as a remembrance of the esteem in which he was held by his former colleagues.
American flag flown over Main Justice on March 18 in honor of Wayman Gray Sherrer
In testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission on March 13, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed a proposed change in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that would lower the levels for the base offense for various quantities for drug trafficking crimes. If adopted, the change would reduce the average sentence for low-level drug offenders by nearly a year. The Commission projects that if the proposal is adopted, the Bureau of Prison population would drop by 6,550 inmates at the end of five years.
The Commission first proposed the change in January and is expected to vote on it by April. In the meantime, the Justice Department will direct prosecutors not to object if defendants seek to have the newly proposed guidelines applied during sentencing.
On March 10, 2014, General Motors announced it had hired NAFUSA member Anton “Tony” Valukas to help lead an internal probe of an ignition-switch failure tied to at least 13 deaths. The investigation will focus on the handling of the flaw that prompted the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and will be conducted jointly by a team led by Valukas and GM General Counsel Michael Millikin. Attorneys from King & Spaulding are also part of the team, according to G.M.
The New York Times reported this morning that the Justice Department has begun an investigation into GM’s alleged “decade-long failure to address deadly safety problems before announcing a huge vehicle recall last month, according to people briefed on the matter.” It is unclear whether the federal probe is civil or criminal but is led by federal prosecutors in New York and is “expected to center on whether G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, failed to comply with laws requiring timely disclosure of vehicle defects.” In addition, there are indications that both the House and the Senate will hold hearings on the issue and the National Highway Traffice Safety Administration is undertaking its own investigation.
Valukas, Chairman of Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago, served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1985 to 1989. He has also served as the Justice Department appointed examiner of the downfall of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., and represented the bankrupt assets of GM during the SEC investigation of the company’s pension accounting. He is a Fellow of the American College of TrIal Lawyers. He has been an instructor at the John Marshall School of Law and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law. He is a graduate of Northwestern School of Law.
Mark W. Buyck, Jr., NAFUSA member, who served as United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina in 1975 to 1977, was honored at the 2014 South Carolina Bar Association meeting with the DuRant Award for Distinguished Public Service. The award recognizes long and illustrious public service and outstanding leadership to the profession, community, state and nation, and is considered the highest award presented by the South Carolina Bar Foundation.
Buyck practices with the Florence, SC law firm of Wllcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A., and is a past-president of the S. C. Defense Trial Attorneys Association. He is a permanent member of the U. S. Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, and past-chairman of USC Law School Association. He is a former member of the Federation of Insurance and Corporate Counsel and the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel and a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is past-president of the S. C. Chapter of ABOTA and a current member of its national board of directors. Buyck is past-chairman of the National College of District Attorneys Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a regent and vice president of the National College of District Attorneys.
He graduated from the University of South Carolina law school. He is on the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina. He was named Distinguished Alumni by the USC Alumni Association in 2005 and received an honorary degree from Carolina at the May 2008 graduation. Buyck has been active in civic affairs, serving as president of the Florence Rotary Club, the Florence Country Club, and the Florence Little Theatre. He was one of the founders of the Florence Heritage Foundation, the first chairman of its board and current president.
Buyck is past President of the South Carolina Historical Society. He served for a decade on the initial Advisory Board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the S.C. State Bar Foundation. He has been honored by two Governors of South Carolina with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest award, and has been listed in all published editions of the Best Lawyers in America. He received the prestigious honor of the Judge Hemphill award for distinguished service to the profession and the public by the S.C. Defense Trial Attorneys Association and the Compleat Lawyer award by the USC Law School. In 2006 he was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of South Carolina and in 2008 he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the USC School of Law. Buyck is a member of the Board of Directors of The Bank of Clarendon and IRIX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He serves on the Board of Trustees and as Secretary of Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation and is a member of the Carolinas Hospital System Board of Trustees.
H. Marshall Jarrett, director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), announced his retirement yesterday. Jarrett was appointed director of EOUSA on April 13, 2009.
Prior to assuming the position of director, Jarrett served as counsel for the Office of Professional Responsibility, where he supervised investigations of professional misconduct by Department of Justice attorneys. He has served as an associate deputy attorney general and as deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section. In addition, he has served as chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and as criminal chief and first assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.
In an email announcing his retirement to the current U.S. Attorneys, Jarrett reflected on his career and the good fortune he has had to work with so many remarkable people. In his email, Jarrett said:
I’ve had the privilege to serve with the most talented and dedicated public servants in the country. I will miss coming to work each day and standing shoulder to shoulder with you and our other extraordinary colleagues throughout the United States Attorneys’ community to help ensure that justice is served for the American people. In particular, it has been extremely gratifying to witness firsthand your perseverance, dedication, and commitment to excellence during a very challenging period.
Jarrett is a recipient of the Edmund J. Randolph Award for outstanding service to the Department of Justice and has been conferred the rank of meritorious executive in the senior executive service. He has also received a Presidential Rank Award for his meritorious executive service.
Jarrett also served as deputy director of the enforcement division of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and as a deputy attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law.
The Fort Smith (AR) City Wire reported on February 19, 2014, that NAFUSA member Asa Hutchinson (R) is tied with ex-Rep Mike Ross (D), in a poll taken in Arkansas on February 12, at 42% each in the 2014 race to succeed term-limited Gov. Mike Beebe (D). Although he faces several primary challengers, the City Wire reports that Hutchinson is considered the GOP frontrunner.
Hutchinson served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, 1982-1985, and in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served as the administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Eighth Edition of Federal Criminal Trials by NAFUSA Past President, and life member, Judge James Cissell has just been released by LexisNexis. This is the volume which we were initially introduced to as US Attorneys. It is a starting point for research and a fast in-trial resource. It covers constitutional protections, federal criminal procedure and the federal rules of evidence with straightforward language.
NAFUSA member Joe Whitley wrote the Foreword to the Eighth Edition and states that Federal Criminal Trials “takes the highly complex and indecipherable and makes it accessible and understandable to all who choose to enter into the trial of a criminal case.”
Lexis is offering a 20% discount to NAFUSA members. The discount is available at 800 833 9844 or go to Federal Criminal Trials with the promotion code NAFUSA20. List price is $230.00.
Don and “First Lady” Erica Stern at the DC conference
I would like to wish each of you a belated happy New Year. While we all have our hopes for this coming year (maybe less snow if you live in the South or more snow if you live in the West), my expectation for NAFUSA is really more of the same.
We continue to enjoy the warm collegiality and personal relationships that stem from our common professional history but which grow each year. We share a deep respect for the position and role of the United States Attorney and the Department of Justice. We support the laws and the Constitution of the United States, not just because we took an oath to do so, but because we know that the rule of law serves to advance and protect our rights and our nation. We share a common desire to not let our political differences interfere with our willingness to engage in rational discourse and debate. In short, we are a welcome oasis in this era of partisan gridlock and sound bites.
All of these qualities were on full display in our annual conference last Fall in Washington, D.C. Jay Stephens steady leadership culminated in what may have been our best ever conference. The programs were substantive and varied, with fantastic panelists. (How could we ever top a panel on the Supreme Court with Ted Olson and Carter Phillips, moderated by Pete Williams?)
The day of golf yielded the usual laughs and slices. The food and drinks from the scenic Jones Day rooftop was plentiful. Our “Day at Justice” with DOJ leadership was informative and inspiring. And, the boat ride benefited from great weather and my grandson taking his turn at the wheel.
Of course, the annual conference and the success of our organization were made possible because of the terrific work of our Executive Director Rich Rossman. We owe Rich (and Patty Rossman) our thanks for a job very well done.
We have begun planning for our next annual conference in Boston, October 9-11, 2014. It will be at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, a beautiful and old hotel in Back Bay which has undergone a major renovation. You will love its grandeur and location.
I am very much looking forward to welcoming you to Boston. Our city has gone through highs and lows over the past year. Indeed, the hotel is a block from the Marathon bombing sites and a mile or so from Fenway Park, the home of the World Champion Red Sox. In both instances, the strong spirit and grit of the people of Boston has helped us through this period. I know you will enjoy visiting this wonderful, walkable, and historic city. Indeed, since we are meeting over Columbus Day Weekend, you might consider planning a few extra days to see the Fall foliage in New England.
(Hear Stern interviewed on NPR about the AG’s decision to pursue the death penalty in the Boston bombing case.)
We will do our best to equal the professional and social offerings of last year’s DC conference. At the very least, you will have an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Please check out our newsletter and website for current information about our members and about the conference. Sign up to attend when we open registration, pay your current dues and actively encourage others to join you. The Board meets in June to advance the planning of the conference, talk about ways to expand our membership and continue to keep us on a firm financial footing. Click to review a list of committee assignments for 2014 [pdf]. Please stay involved in this unique organization.
In a video message released today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that, due to the budget agreement approved by Congress last month, the Justice Department is able to lift the hiring freeze that has been in place for just over three years.
In his message, Holder said:
In recent years, federal employees have been asked to contend with sharp budget cuts, sequestration, and the personal hardships imposed by a government shutdown. Here at the Department of Justice, these conditions have strained our capacity. And they’ve compelled us to take extraordinary measures just to make ends meet – including a hiring freeze that I was forced to institute in 2011, and which has resulted in the loss of more than 4,000 employees.
These losses have been acutely felt. But finally, after years of uncertainty, Congress recently passed – and the President signed – a bipartisan budget agreement that allowed our appropriators to restore Justice Department funding to pre-sequestration levels – and even adds funding for key priorities. As a result of this budget agreement, effective immediately, the Department will lift the hiring freeze that’s been in place for just over three years. After years of doing more with less, we will begin to fill critical vacancies. And we will resume the normal hiring process for federal agents, prosecutors, analysts and the other staff we need to fulfill our mission. These added resources will help us carry out our critical law enforcement responsibilities and improve public safety.