Vaira Publishes “Wish List”

On January 13, 2017, The Legal Intelligencer in Philadelphia published Peter Vaira’s “A Wish List for Lawyers and Judges” –VAIRA Legal Intelligencer (01.17.17) A 2017 Wish List for Lawyers and Judges.

Vaira’s list includes:

  • That the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee or the Department of Justice modify the Jencks Act and will require the disclosure of government witness statements at least 60 days before a trial.
  • That Congress reduce the size and budget of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Sentencing Commission’s guidelines are only advisory.
  • That the defense bar propose to the federal courts, and the federal judges apply, the alternative sentencing guidelines published by the ABA Criminal Justice Section Task Force on Economic Crimes, Nov 10, 2014.

Grissom Appointed to NAFUSA Board

Grissom_Barry_BRGRI_HiResHeadshot

NAFUSA President Bart Daniel announced that B. Todd Jones has resigned from the NAFUSA Board of Directors and that the Board has named Barry Grissom (Kansas, 2010-2016) to fill the vacancy in the class of 2018.

Grissom stepped down in April of 2016 as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas and joined Polsinelli’s national White Collar Defense and Government Investigations and Compliance – Civil and Criminal Practice. Grissom is a shareholder in its Kansas City headquarters office.

Grissom served on the Attorney’s General Advisory Committee (AGAC). As a member of the AGAC, Grissom contributed to efforts to reform the federal criminal justice system through the Smart on Crime initiative. He also served on several sub-committees, including Financial Fraud, Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Team, Terrorism & National Security (Cyber), Native American Issues and Civil Rights.

Prior to his work as U.S. Attorney, Grissom was in private practice law for 27 years in both state and federal court, with involvement at every level of complex government litigation matters.

Grissom earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Kansas before obtaining his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

 

US Attorneys Told They Can Stay Past Inauguration Day

Politico reported last last evening that Trump will allow U.S. attorneys to stay past Friday

President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has told chief federal prosecutors around the country that they can stay on for some time past Inauguration Day, a Justice Department spokesman said Tuesday night.

“Currently serving U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals were informed today that they are able to stay in place after January 20th while the process for identifying and confirming successors is further determined,” Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.

The Justice Department also announced that while Attorney General Loretta Lynch will leave her post on Friday, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates has agreed to serve as Acting Attorney General until a successor has been confirmed by the Senate.

David Hickton Appointed Founding Director of Pitt Cyber Institute

David Hickton

David Hickton

NAFUSA’s newest member, David J. Hickton, former United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, has been appointed founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy and Security.

“With the appointment of David Hickton, the University of Pittsburgh is poised to offer significant contributions to the national discussion on cyber-related issues affecting personal, national, and global security and privacy,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.

“David Hickton will marshal Pitt’s extensive capabilities and assemble a group of leading thinkers in this emerging field who will enrich Pitt’s learning and research environment,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “We have an array of very talented and motivated faculty working in areas of cyber law, policy, security, and technology, and we believe the institute and the record of accomplishment David brings will offer opportunity for a vital synergy.”

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Some Questions for Sessions

AMI Don Stern photo

Don Stern

In today’s Boston Globe, NAFUSA member Don Stern posts Some questions for Sessions. The confirmation for Senator Sessions is scheduled to begin today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stern suggests some questions the Committee should ask and the answers he believes would be the appropriate responses.

Stern writes,

…the core role of the attorney general — as the nation’s highest-ranking lawyer and prosecutor, and as the protector of the integrity of the Department of Justice — should not be ignored. This means that the attorney general must ensure that the Justice Department remains free of politics, insists on the highest ethical standards, and makes decisions based soley on the facts and the law. While the attorney general is appointed by the president, he or she is not the president’s lawyer.

Henry Oncken Dies

Henry Oncken

Henry Oncken, who served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, 1985-1990, passed away on December 21, 2016.  He attended the University of Houston and received his JD from the Bates College of Law. His career began at Humble Oil (Exxon) and then with the District Attorney’s Office. He served as a Harris County District Court Judge before his appointment in 1985 as  U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas. In retirement, Henry worked as a visiting judge in the Harris County Criminal Courts. He loved the outdoors and looked forward to spending each hunting season with his friends and family.

He is survived by his wife Jackie, daughter Leah, son-in-law Jon, grandchildren Nathan and Ava and brothers Bill and Gary. 

A Celebration of Life was held on December 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas. After the service, a reception will be held at the church followed by the gravesite service. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to The Gladney Center, 6300 John Ryan Drive, Ft. Worth, Texas 76132.

As is our custom,  NAFUSA has arranged for an American flag to be flown over Main Justice in Henry’s honor and it will be presented to his family as a token of the high regard with which he was held by his colleagues.

 

112 Former U.S. Attorneys Urge Senate to Support Sessions (Updated January 3, 2017)

Sen. Jeff Sessions talks to reporters at Trump Tower (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Jeff Sessions talks to reporters at Trump Tower (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

In a letter date January 3, 2017, to Senators Grassley, Leahy and Feinstein, 112 former United States Attorneys, most of them members of NAFUSA, urged the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to support the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. Click here to view letter and list of signatories: usa-ltr-sessions-2

As former U.S. Attorneys, we are in a unique position to evaluate the qualifications of Senator Sessions to serve as our nation’s Attorney General. United States Attorneys are the top- ranking federal law-enforcement officials of their jurisdictions, tasked with setting enforcement priorities, building trust with the communities they serve, and protecting the public while respecting federalism, the separation of powers, and the individual rights enshrined in the Constitution. It is not an easy job, but it is one in which Senator Sessions excelled.

 

Senator Sessions’ record reflects his priorities clearly, and none of his work as U.S. Attorney was more impactful than his sustained effort to eliminate segregation in rural Alabama and break the back of the Alabama Klan. In addition to bringing and supporting civil rights cases to fight against voter suppression and school segregation, Senator Sessions supported the investigation into the brutal murder of an African American teenager, Michael Donald. His efforts, in coordination with state authorities, ensured that the perpetrator – the son of the Alabama Klan’s leader – received a capital sentence. Sessions’ office also prosecuted an accomplice in that case, who pled guilty and received a life sentence, the maximum penalty available in federal court at the time. These successful prosecutions helped the victim’s mother win a $7 million lawsuit against the Klan, effectively crippling it as a political organization within Alabama.

 

Senator Sessions served for a remarkable twelve years as U.S. Attorney. His lengthy tenure alone is impressive given the burdens of the job, which we well know. Senator Sessions’ conspicuous service to the law and all citizens has continued as a United States Senator. In his work as a leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has espoused a consistent understanding of the Constitution, a commitment to the rule of law, and an unwavering respect for the mission of the Department of Justice.

 

During his 41 years of public service, Senator Sessions has proved to be a leader of strong principles and firm beliefs. His support for the 25-year extension of the Civil Rights Act in 2006 is evidence of this. He also has proved to be a leader who appreciates positions that differ from his own and who learns from the scrutiny that comes with public life. His openness to different thinking and other worldviews is evidenced by the recent statements in support of his nomination from colleagues across the political spectrum and his support for Eric Holder’s nomination as Attorney General in 2009.

 

As former U.S. Attorneys, we worked with and for many Attorneys General, each different, each with his or her own unique strengths. We have no doubt that Senator Sessions can do the job well, bringing to this critically important office his own unique and extraordinary strengths of courage, humility, experience, and an inviolable promise to treat all people equally under the law.

 

 

 

DOJ Collects More Than $15.3 Billion in FY 2016

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department Collects More Than $15.3 Billion in Civil and Criminal Cases in Fiscal Year 2016. This total represents more than five times the approximately $3 billion appropriated budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions of DOJ combined in that same period. The largest settlements derived from cases related to the financial crisis. The total includes all monies collected as a result of Justice Department-led enforcement actions and negotiated civil settlements. Of the total, more than $12 billion was paid directly to DOJ and the remainder to other federal agencies, states and other designated recipients.