CWAG Weekly Roundup

January 22, 2015








CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah works closely with the anti-child sex trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad to prosecute child traffickers and pornographers, but the extent of his involvement wasn't known until recently. General Reyes joined the organization in a secret mission to rescue child sex slaves in Cartagena, Colombia, last October. He made the trip just weeks before being elected as Utah's attorney general. Operation Underground Railroad set up a meeting with sex traffickers in a pavilion near a beach in Cartagena. General Reyes played the part of translator and stalled the traffickers while Colombian law enforcement landed in boats on the beach and rushed in to make arrests. "It was so emotionally charged to be that close to people who do such despicable things and have them think that we're their friends and slapping us on the back," he said. The team rescued 55 children during its mission and put a "notorious cartel leader," who is also an American citizen, in prison.


General Reyes spoke at a Republican National Committee meeting in San Diego where he talked about eliminating human trafficking. "We're not just talking theoretically about it; we're not just sharing statistics; I'm saying, 'I have been there; I have seen these poor girls drugged and abused, and we did something about it,'" General Reyes said.


CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada announced that his first major initiative as Nevada's new chief legal officer will be hosting a law enforcement summit for sheriffs, chiefs, and district attorneys from Nevada's 17 counties to address key issues in their respective communities, including human trafficking. "Law enforcement leaders across the state have been asked for their participation and input at the summit," General Laxalt said. "Our priority is to identify and discuss crime trends and other issues to find ways to collaborate across counties in order to make the Silver State a safer place for Nevada's families." The summit will focus on how Nevada law enforcement can more quickly and effectively address emerging criminal trends like illegal drugs, violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse, and human trafficking.


CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin Rhode Island and the United States Attorney for Rhode Island jointly announced the cross-designation of several senior prosecutors to enhance the prosecution of multi-jurisdictional crime including human trafficking and child pornography. Cross-designation permits prosecutors to cross-over and prosecute cases either in a state or federal court. Targeted cases are jointly reviewed to determine appropriate charges, appropriate jurisdiction and in which court appropriate penalties are likely to be realized. "The Office of Attorney General and the United States Attorney's Office have long enjoyed a very good working relationship. Both offices recognize that the priority is always to put together the best possible case for successful prosecution, no matter the venue," said General Kilmartin. "There are certain crimes such as narcotics and human trafficking that often cross jurisdictional lines. Cross designating multiple individuals in specialized areas of prosecution allows for greater cooperation and efficiencies, from the initiation of a case through to prosecution."




CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado announced her senior cabinet appointments. "In becoming attorney general, I am inheriting one of the best public law offices in the country comprised of people who bring passion, intelligence and pride to their work," said General Coffman. "I am confident that the attorneys making up my cabinet are each exemplary leaders who will serve the people of Colorado and me with honor, and I am grateful for their dedication to public service."  The Chief Deputy Attorney General position is being divided into two new roles, both of which will report directly to Attorney General Coffman. Chief of Staff: Melanie J. Snyder will oversee the office's administration functions, communication, attorney-related projects and spearhead a new community-engagement initiative. Chief Deputy: David C. Blake will lead the office and advise the Attorney General on legal, policy and legislative matters. Blake will also serve as the primary point of contact with the governor's office as well as the office's external relationships with organizations like the National Association of Attorneys General and the Conference of Western Attorneys General. Solicitor General: Frederick R. Yarger will succeed Daniel D. Domenico as Colorado's Solicitor General. The solicitor general is responsible for supervising and determining legal strategy for criminal and civil appeals, as well as select constitutional litigation, handled by the Colorado Attorney General's Office.




CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington has proposed the Patent Troll Prevention Act to protect the rights of legitimate patent holders and crack down on deceptive and predatory patent troll practices. "Patent trolls target and swamp small businesses with deceptive demand letters," said General Ferguson. "The Patent Troll Prevention Act will protect small businesses and provide my office with enforcement authority to hold fraudulent trolls accountable." Patent trolls have become an expensive and escalating problem for businesses across the country, hurting the economy and stifling innovation. A study from the Boston University School of Law estimates that patent trolls cost the economy $29 billion in direct legal costs in 2011. Patent trolls work by acquiring exceptionally broad patents. They then blanket the state with bad faith 'demand letters' targeted at small businesses. These demand letters threaten legal action if businesses do not pay licensing fees. Research conducted in 2012 at Santa Clara University found that 55 percent of patent troll targets are small businesses, and 18 percent of targets give in to the demand without fighting the assertion in court.


CWAG Associate Attorney General William H. Sorrell of Vermont is preparing to continue the State's battle with alleged patent troll MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, as the federal district court turned away MPHJ's latest effort to avoid Vermont courts. MPHJ had sought, for a second time, to move Vermont's enforcement action to federal court. Echoing his earlier ruling in 2014, Judge William K. Sessions III held that MPHJ's second removal effort was "untimely" and ordered that the "case must again be remanded to state court." Attorney General Sorrell observed that MPHJ's litigation tactics have not deterred him from pushing forward with this important consumer-protection litigation. "MPHJ has repeatedly delayed this case with unwarranted procedural maneuvers, but we are ready to move forward now in state court to prove our case and ask the court to sanction MPHJ's conduct," he said.




CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced that his office, along with other agencies, took action to stop illegal gambling at establishments known as sweepstakes cafes. These cafes pose as coffee shops offering Internet access but they are a disguise for illegal gambling operations.  The investigation began when the Arizona Department of Gaming learned of multiple sweepstakes cafés where gambling was allegedly taking place. Undercover agents were dispatched to confirm that customers were gambling, although, not all knew they were engaging in illegal activity. Agents seized 21 weapons, 50 gambling devices, computers, televisions, three vehicles, two trailers, six ATV's, and two motorcycles. They also confiscated approximately $20,000 in cash. The Attorney General's Office served a simultaneous seizure warrant for assets and froze bank accounts associated with the operation. "We want to send a clear message to the operators of these shops that they are on our radar," said General Brnovich. "They will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."




CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller announced that an Iowa state judge has ordered a California company behind government look-alike property record mailings to temporarily cease soliciting Iowa residents for payment for property deed records or any other government records, following a consumer fraud lawsuit filed by General Miller. The lawsuit alleges that the company solicited Iowans for $87 copies of property records that owners do not generally need.  Iowa property owners can obtain many land records, including deeds, for free or for a small charge, from a local county recorder's website or office. Property owners can also obtain assessment information from a local county assessor's website or office for free or for a small charge. "The company name has changed since we last dealt with this issue, but it's the same owner, the same types of documents and the same tactics," General Miller said. "This is a government sound-alike company trying to dupe Iowans into wasting $87 for what they can otherwise get for free or for just a few dollars."




CWAG Associate Attorney General William H. Sorrell of Vermont announced that his office is moving ahead on implementing the regulations that will govern the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering by commencing the formal rule-making process. The Attorney General recently submitted the proposed rule to the Vermont Secretary of State's office. This submission began the statutory process required by Vermont's Administrative Procedure Act. As a central part of this process, members of the public are invited to submit formal comments on the proposed rule to the Attorney General at any time until January 28th, either through the Secretary of State's website, or by sending an email to [email protected] The Attorney General will also host a public hearing at the Vermont Statehouse on Tuesday, January 20th at 5pm in Room 11. This will be the only public hearing on the proposed rule. "This past fall, we toured around Vermont, talking to the public about the draft labeling rule and getting feedback," said General Sorrell. "We've incorporated some of what we heard. Throughout January we are inviting people to submit their formal comments about the proposed rule and attend a public hearing on the rule next week in Montpelier."










CWAG is proud to announce the recent release of our latest book,  American Indian Law Deskbook.


Indian law is a dynamic, ever-evolving field of law that overlaps other areas of the law as tribes expand their economic and political reach in our society. If a lawyer needs a concise, direct and easy to understand handbook on Indian law, the American Indian Law Deskbook meets that need. As the chief legal officers of the States, the State Attorneys General offer a unique insight into Indian law. The States have been parties to many of the cases that have shaped Indian law over the years before the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts. Beginning in 1988, the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) saw the need not only to develop a treatise that reflected the current status of Indian law, but also to create a framework adaptable to new developments - decisional or statutory - on a frequent basis. The chapter authors of this book are experienced state lawyers who have been involved in Indian law for many years.



Chris Coppin

Legal Director

Conference of Western Attorneys General

111 Lomas, NW   Suite 300

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102


505-660-5901 (cell)

505-222-9183 (fax)

[email protected]