The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute
Domestic and Global Expansion Remains a NAGTRI Priority
Jeanette Manning, NAGTRI Program Counsel
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) remains committed to endeavors that seek to expand its international reach and contacts, introduce the organization to larger audiences, provide opportunities abroad for attorneys general and their staff, and enhance its existing relationship with the U.S. Department of State. These objectives are accomplished in myriad ways, including hosting delegations, deploying abroad, attending international conferences, and offering and attending training for both domestic and international audiences. Each of these efforts has been extended to benefit state and territory AG offices and to note some of the less commonly known aspects of NAAG’S work through its branch, the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI). A few are described in this article to promote some of NAGTRI’s interesting projects while detailing additional, unique experiences for attorneys general and their staff.
Training Assistance Deployments
NAAG continues to liaise with various justice advisors from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) via its existing memorandum of understanding. In May 2018, assistant attorneys general and communications staff working in AG offices in Maryland, New York, and Wisconsin, participated in deployments to Armenia and Macedonia. Each of these deployments provided special opportunities for attorneys general staff to engage and dialogue with practitioners on improving critical aspects of the legal and justice systems that ultimately benefit key legal stakeholders and the public.
Two attorneys from the New York and Maryland AG offices traveled to Armenia and offered training assistance to approximately 50 judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators, analysts, and Ministry of Justice officials on different components involving the interpretation, critical analysis, and utilization of forensic reports. The assistant attorneys general and Armenian officials discussed similar challenges facing them in their respective jurisdictions and how the legal system can be improved for vulnerable populations. Both assistant attorneys general noted how participating in this deployment helped them to have a greater appreciation of the many hurdles facing individuals in the legal and criminal justice arenas across the world. NAGTRI would like to specially thank Kristen Bitetto, assistant attorney general from the New York Attorney’s General Office and Robert Taylor, former assistant attorney general from the Maryland Attorney’s General Office. NAGTRI also would like to thank Gail Heatherly, senior counsel, in the New York Attorney’s General Office for her assistance with pre-planning and program development.
An assistant attorney general and communications consultant with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (who previously served as its communications director) traveled to Macedonia and offered training assistance to approximately 70 public relations officers, judges, prosecutors, and Minister of Justice officials on promoting transparency and strengthening public relations and media communications among legal professionals. The pair participated in workshops focusing on, inter alia, the importance of building relationships among justice sector partners and improving public relations, and the manner by which prosecutors and public relations staff work jointly on issuing press releases, holding press conferences, and properly handling social media platforms, while simultaneously protecting sensitive case information. Upon return home, both faculty members commented on the progress and engagement of the participants and noted that the deployment was a valuable learning experience for them as well. NAGTRI sends a special thanks to Christopher Leigel, assistant attorney general, from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and Anne Schwartz, principal consultant with Schwartz Public Strategies, for their commitment and work during this deployment.
NAGTRI welcomes its relationship with INL. It especially would like to thank the INL team in the Office of Criminal Justice Assistance and Partnership who assisted with every aspect of organizing and structuring the Armenia and Macedonia visits, including Roushani Mansoor, Judith Welling, and Bryan Grulkowski. Their assistance was invaluable and properly prepared each group for their deployments.
NAGTRI International Fellows
Annually, NAGTRI hosts a group of elite domestic and global attorneys in its International Fellows Program. NAGTRI selects candidates from a pool of hundreds interested in participating in this popular program to explore an important, common legal issue together. The 2018 International Fellows class consisted of 23 fellows from diverse countries who focused exclusively on consumer protection issues. Specifically, the government attorneys studied how they can become empowered leaders to protect consumers against sophisticated tech scams and dangerous products that threaten the safety and security of consumers.
Government attorneys from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, England, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States, participated in the eight-day program where fellows visited in Washington, D.C., and New York. While in Washington, the fellows had the opportunity to meet and learn from an esteemed group of presenters, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and experts such as Frank Abagnale and Daniel Marti, among other accomplished speakers. They also had the unique opportunity to learn about our U.S. government with a meeting with the clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court and a tour of the courtroom, a meeting with a congressional member and a tour of the U.S. Capitol, and a meeting with officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a tour of its museum.
The intensive learning experience culminated with the fellows collaborating in small groups to produce papers and present them before an esteemed panel in New York. Their papers and presentations provided legal and policy recommendations on subjects involving the identification of consumer scams that cross borders; prosecutorial and corporate collaboration to improve global standards; global approaches to investigate and prosecute cases; and methods to reduce the infiltration of counterfeit and dangerous products and practices.
International Training and Engagement
Following a competitive application process, NAGTRI selected three assistant attorneys general from AG offices in Arizona, New Mexico, and New York to travel abroad and participate in a junior prosecutor training, enabling them to develop international contacts while working on complex cases that have international elements involving organized and financial crimes. For one week in June, NAGTRI partnered with The Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights’ International Criminal Justice and International Cooperation in Criminal Matters specialization course. This was NAGTRI’s second year participating in this program, and NAGTRI Criminal Justice Instructor for Latin American Programs Gina Cabrejo accompanied the group during the training course. Participating assistant attorneys general focused on core issues concerning international and transnational crimes and worked in collaborative groups to identify problems, gaps in the law, responses to complicated legal scenarios, and develop solutions. Participation in the program has already produced results where an attending assistant attorney general noted to NAGTRI that he has already contacted an international Siracusa Institute colleague regarding a current case.