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Volume 8, Number 3
Attorneys General Convened in DC for NAAG Winter Meeting
NAAG Leadership with AG Holder at Winter Meeting,l to r, South Dakota AG Marty Jackley, NAAG President and Wisconsin AG J.B. Van Hollen, US AG Eric Holder, Maryland AG Doug Gansler and Mississippi AG Jim Hood
Forty-five state and territorial attorneys general gathered in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24-26 for NAAG’s annual Winter Meeting. This meeting has the highest attendance of state attorneys general, along with hundreds of representatives from state and federal governments, and corporate and non-profit sectors.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Associate Attorney General Tony West, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, and Ambassador William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S. Department of State, were the top-level federal government speakers.
Attorney General Holder discussed, among other things, state and federal efforts to direct significant funding away from prison construction and toward evidence-based programs and services, like supervision and drug treatment that are proven to reduce recidivism while improving public safety. He also offered the administration’s position on state same-sex marriage bans.
“Over the past five years, I’ve been privileged to work closely with many of the attorneys general in this room,” said Attorney General Holder during his Feb. 25 speech. “Some of us have collaborated on cutting-edge public safety and financial crime initiatives. Some of us are working together to strengthen our courts and corrections systems—and to find innovative ways to reduce costs and share resources. And some of us have occasionally found ourselves on opposite sides of an issue.
“But as long as we are dedicated to working in common cause, determined to disagree with mutual respect, and devoted to our shared pursuit of a more just and more perfect Union – I am confident in where our collective efforts, and your steadfast leadership, will take us,” he said.
Ambassador Brownfield attended the meeting on Feb. 24 to sign an agreement with NAAG establishing a partnership to train international prosecutors.
This agreement means INL will request that attorneys general and their legal staff or the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI), a branch of NAAG, conduct trainings, serve as mentors, participate in assessments or speak at conferences. The attorneys general of Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Mexico—all NAAG members---recently signed similar INL agreements. This partnership is cost-neutral for NAAG members since the State Department covers the costs of assistance activities.
“Cross-border cooperation helps fight criminal threats that know no boundaries, including money-laundering, organized crime and terrorism,” said NAAG President and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. “We appreciate this tremendous opportunity to teach methods of successful criminal prosecution, develop durable relationships with international law enforcement personnel, and increase citizen safety around the world and in the United States.”
NAAG also hosted its traditional U.S. Supreme Court Perspectives Luncheon with an overview of this term’s cases by Theodore Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Lisa Blatt of Arnold and Porter. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor met with the attorneys general and briefly joined the Tuesday evening NAAG reception for all attendees at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The meeting covered a range of pressing legal issues including multistate investigations, online gambling, consumer financial protection, substance abuse, mental health treatment among state prisoners, and intellectual property.
While NAAG members were in town, the Association sent a Feb. 24 letter to U.S. Senate committee leadership offering support for bipartisan federal patent reform legislation that addresses patent trolls and suggesting some amendments, http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php. The letter was sponsored by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who co-chairs the NAAG Intellectual Property Committee, and Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
NAAG President Van Hollen moderated a session focusing on his presidential initiative theme, “America’s Promise: Keeping Our Kids Safe.” Guest panelists discussed how attorneys general offices can establish a Child Sex Trafficking Investigative Unit, including its organization, function, networking and funding.
Video of the meeting sessions and speaker Power Points can be found here: http://www.naag.org/2014-naag-winter-meeting.php
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