ALM Properties, Inc.
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A Hankering to Hire
The U.S. Department of Justice's budget request for 2014 seeks to add dozens of attorney positions, boosting efforts to combat cybercrime, to prosecute financial and mortgage fraud, and to thwart piracy of intellectual property.
The $27.6 billion request is a 3 percent increase over the budget enacted two years ago for 2012, and it restores the $1.6 billion in cuts in this year's budget as part of the government-wide cuts called sequestration. Released in April, the budget includes additional attorneys in the criminal, civil, and civil rights divisions, but removes attorney positions from antitrust.
"The president's budget request reflects a strong commitment to building upon the record of progress we have established in fulfilling the Justice Department's most critical missions," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a written statement.
Here is what the budget proposes for key divisions:
Criminal division programs: The department wants to add 32 attorneys. The $8.5 million increase includes nine attorneys to boost cybercrime investigations and prosecutions, 16 to prosecute significant financial crimes, and seven who will address and stop intellectual property threats more quickly.
Civil division programs: The budget would add 32 attorneys to combat the financial and mortgage fraud that "goes to the very heart of the recent financial crisis." The additional $7 million for attorneys will "add muscle" to efforts "to recover billions of dollars for federal coffers each year and reduce the nation's debt."
Civil rights division programs: Justice also wants to add 44 attorneys to this division to strengthen enforcement efforts, especially in financial and mortgage fraud and police misconduct. Most of those positions25 attorneyswould focus on human trafficking, hate crimes, voting rights enforcement, and enforcement of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. There would be 10 more attorneys to conduct investigations of predatory lending, pricing discrimination, and lending practices in minority neighborhoods. And nine would root out the most egregious incidents of police misconduct. The positions would be part of a $10.7 million increase for the division.
The attorney staffing in two areas would remain unchanged. The Justice Department wants to remove 10 attorney positions from the antitrust division that have become vacant because of budget constraints. The move would contribute $823,000 in savings. The Office of the Solicitor General would remain at 22 attorneys, but would add $711,000 for six support personnel.
The department also wants to add $1.6 million for an "attorney productivity initiative," which would provide more support personnel for fact discovery, exhibit preparation, and other litigation actions to combat "a distinct disadvantage when opposing blue-chip firms in complex cases that often involve billions of dollars in claims."
A versions of this story appeared in The National Law Journal, a sibling publication of Corporate Counsel.