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JUSTICE DELAYED: Budget Crunch Hits U.S. Attorneys' Offices

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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-31-07 06:45 AM
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JUSTICE DELAYED: Budget Crunch Hits U.S. Attorneys' Offices
Amid Antiterror Focus, Prosecutions Decline; Rep. Lewis Probe Slowed

JUSTICE DELAYED: Budget Crunch Hits U.S. Attorneys' Offices
By SCOT J. PALTROW
August 31, 2007; Page A1


LOS ANGELES -- Whoever succeeds Alberto Gonzales as attorney general will face a long list of challenges at the Justice Department, from unfilled senior positions to sagging morale. One of the most pressing, according to dozens of current and former federal prosecutors, is a budget squeeze at U.S. attorneys' offices that has led to declines in crime prosecutions and delays in major investigations.

In the past few years, U.S. attorneys' offices around the country have been unable to fill vacancies. Lawyers sometimes can't travel to interview witnesses. Even funds for basic office needs such as photocopying documents and obtaining deposition transcripts have been cut, according to current and former officials.

Overall, funding for the offices has grown well below the rate of inflation. As a result, "fewer cases were getting charged and bigger investigations were taking longer because there weren't enough prosecutors to do them," says Debra Yang, who stepped down in October 2006 as the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

Department of Justice data show the impact. Prosecutions are down overall, with large drops in categories such as drugs, violent crime and white-collar offenses.

In the civil divisions of U.S. attorneys' offices -- which defend federal agencies and file lawsuits on behalf of the government -- the problem is actually costing Washington money, contends Kenneth Bauman, a recently retired veteran assistant U.S. attorney in Portland, Ore. Many offices have raised the bar for filing suit against people who owe the government money. Mr. Bauman and others say the government has settled suits against it for more than it would normally.



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uhc comment: 500 pound bombs cost $268.50 a pop. Why don't we not buy a few & use the money for something else?
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