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Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, takes his seat Jan. 10 on Capitol Hill in Washington after a break in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP photo: Alex Brandon)

Bar Buzz: Will immigration trump other DOJ initiatives?

Some of Minnesota’s experts on the workings of the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney’s offices met Monday, Jan, 9 for a chat/CLE/webinar at the Dorsey law offices in Minneapolis.

Those experts were John Marti, B. Todd Jones, R.J. Zayed and Tom Heffelfinger, all with plenty of experience in the nuances of the department, which may undergo a sea change if President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is confirmed. Sessions’ signature issue is immigration enforcement. His hearing began on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The panelists were asked to make a prediction about the Trump/Sessions administration. After the program, Minnesota Lawyer asked each if he would be the next assistant U.S. attorney in Minnesota.

Their responses:

John Marti was Assistant U.S. attorney and acting U.S. attorney in Minnesota from 2000 to 2015, and a prosecutor in the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., from 1997 to 2000. He is now a partner at Dorsey. His prediction: Prosecutions under the Federal Corrupt Practices Act might not remain a priority, and it might be to a defendant’s advantage to wait out the clock.

Is he going to be the next U.S. attorney? “It’s way too early to think about that. Get some popcorn and watch TV tomorrow [when the Sessions confirmation hearing airs.]”

B. Todd Jones is a former U.S. attorney in Minnesota and head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He is now the senior vice president and special counsel for conduct for the National Football League. His prediction: Civil rights litigation as currently constituted will disappear. “The rights of the LGBT community will be put in a box in a closet.”

Is he going to be the next U.S. attorney? “Are you kidding me? Is that a serious question?”

R.J. Zayed was assistant U.S. attorney in Minnesota from 1994 to 2000. He is now a partner at Dorsey in the practice of intellectual property law, government enforcement and corporate investigations. His prediction: Cybercrime will be a priority, but it is unclear what role hacking controversies will play.

Is he going to be the next U.S. attorney? “No.”

Tom Heffelfinger was the U.S. attorney in Minnesota from 1991 to 1993 and 2001 to 2006. He is an attorney and Best and Flanagan and practices in the areas of white-collar crime and Native American legal issues. His prediction: White-collar crime prosecution continues but it will look a lot more like street crime prosecutions. False claims act whistleblowers will be encouraged.

Is he going to be the next U.S. attorney? “I haven’t decided whether to apply.”


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