CWAG Roundup

October 2, 2015


CWAG announces the opening of registration for "Dinner with the Attorneys General," set for Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at The Mills House in Charleston, South Carolina.  We invite your participation in this Endowment Dinner benefiting the programs and goals of CWAG.  Attached please find the sponsorship and registration information. This engaging dinner includes participation by approximately 25-30 Attorneys General and their top staff from across the country. We hope your schedule will allow you to attend this year's event and participate in this premier opportunity for exchanging views and forging relationships. Please contact CWAG Meeting Manager, Janine Knudsen, at 916.704.1057 or [email protected] with any questions or to confirm your participation.
CWAG Associate Attorney General William H. Sorrell of Vermont said he will not seek re-election in November 2016. "It has been my honor and pleasure to serve the people of Vermont as Attorney General for well over eighteen years," he said in his announcement. "I look forward to continuing to work hard, along with the very talented lawyers and other staff of the Attorney General's Office, on the many important issues we presently confront and those we will confront during the next fifteen months." General Sorrell added "I am proud of my office and its many accomplishments. I am deeply grateful for the support I have received and continue to receive from so many Vermonters."
Almost a month after entering the race for the 2024 Summer Olympics, the Los Angeles bid committee is quietly assembling a staff to run its campaign over the next two years. LA 2024 announced that Brian Nelson, a former California Department of Justice advisor, will serve as general counsel. "I volunteered Brian to join this effort because I want it to succeed and his experience guiding large, complex matters in my office is a perfect fit for the important work ahead," CWAG Attorney General Kamala Harris of California said.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida announced the arrests of 21 individuals on charges stemming from a massive drug and human trafficking ring operating in central Florida. The arrests follow an extensive two-year investigation into the organization's involvement in heroin and sex trafficking in the region. Law enforcement officers have rescued several human trafficking victims including one child. As a result of the investigation, 20 additional human trafficking victims have also been identified. "We will continue to work tirelessly to keep these monsters away from our children. These victims were being held under the threat of violence and with the use of drugs, so they could be sold for sex. We will not tolerate anyone coercing and exploiting anyone in our state to traffic them for sex, and I want to thank my Office of Statewide Prosecution, Sheriff Demings, the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Highway Patrol and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the great teamwork and coordination to take down this massive human and drug trafficking ring and rescue the victims of these atrocious crimes," said General Bondi. 
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah trained Utah sheriffs on human trafficking at the Utah Sheriffs Corrections and Law Enforcement Conference. General Reyes urged sheriffs and agencies throughout Utah to understand the signs of human trafficking and to coordinate efforts to thwart the increasing criminal enterprise. "I have deep gratitude for the exceptional men and women who choose law enforcement as a profession and risk their lives daily to protect our cities, counties and state," said General Reyes. "The Utah Sheriffs' Association Conference is an important annual venue for our office to learn about current crime trends and ways to combat dangers in our communities. This year, we had the unique opportunity to train other agencies on how to detect human trafficking patterns, prosecute those engaged in trafficking activities and ways to unite in state efforts to eradicate trafficking from our state." General Reyes also spoke at the Association of Corporate Counsel Mountain West Chapter's Ninth Annual Nutrition Law Symposium. The Attorney General discussed his office's and personal mission to combat human trafficking in relation to many national and international efforts including the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act that ensures companies disclose on their websites and other materials how they address Slavery and Human Trafficking.
The Montana Law Enforcement Academy (MLEA) and Missoula College-University of Montana announced a joint partnership that will allow officers graduating from basic training to earn 18 college credits that directly transfer to Missoula College. "We're excited about this unique partnership between our Academy's Law Enforcement Officer Basic course and the Missoula College-University of Montana's Associate of Arts Degree with a focus in Fundamentals of Police Science," CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox said. "This agreement creates a bridge by providing graduating basic course students with the opportunity to receive 18 of the 60 credits needed to receive an associate's degree, and it's my hope all eligible new officers will take advantage of this opportunity to obtain a college degree." The normal cost of the 18 Missoula College-UM college credits is $1192.80; under this new partnership, MLEA basic course graduates who do not already have a college degree transfer directly into the Missoula College at no cost to them.  Missoula College Dean Shannon O'Brien said, "These types of partnerships ensure that our communities are safe with well-educated officers while offering boundless opportunities for these officers by setting them on a path for continued success."
The U.S. Department of State and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) recently dispatched a team of prosecutors from the Offices of CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter Kilmartin of Rhode Island to Ukraine to train the newly established anticorruption-focused Inspector General unit within the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office. The training marked a new step in U.S. support for developing Ukraine's law enforcement and judicial sectors. "We live in a global, interactive world, and the United States has the resources to provide assistance to countries that are trying to change the culture of corruption to one of laws and a justice system the public can have trust in. Furthermore, with the growth of transnational crime, including human trafficking and cybercrime, it is important we support Rule of Law throughout the world and establish relationships for prosecution of these crimes," said General Kilmartin. "I am proud that our prosecutors were chosen to impart their expertise on their counterparts in Ukraine. It is a testament to the excellence of the prosecutors in this office. Each and every day, they work with law enforcement to assess and build cases that lead to successful prosecution, and have earned a reputation as some of the best prosecutors in the nation who are sought out for their expertise."
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California announced that the California Department of Justice, along with the California Public Utilities Commission, has reached a $33 million settlement with Comcast over allegations that Comcast posted online the names, phone numbers and addresses of tens of thousands of customers who had paid for unlisted voice over internet protocol ("VOIP") phone service. As part of the settlement, Comcast must pay $25 million in penalties and investigative costs to the California Department of Justice and the California Public Utilities Commission. Comcast will also pay approximately $8 million in additional restitution to customers whose numbers were improperly disclosed. "Publishing personal information that should have been unlisted is unlawful and a troubling breach of privacy," General Harris said. "This settlement provides meaningful relief to victims, brings greater transparency to Comcast's privacy practices and sends a message that violations of consumers' privacy will result in significant penalties."
The federal government has decided not to list the greater sage grouse as endangered, relying instead on state-led voluntary efforts to stop extinction across long-neglected expanses of Western sagebrush steppe. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, northeast of Denver. She was joined by a group of western governors and federal and state officials. "Today we have proven we can take smart science-based forward-looking steps," said Jewell, who said it was a "historic effort" of collaboration. She said the no-list decision means a brighter future for the bird and "more importantly it means certainty" for western communities. The not-warranted decision marks a shift after the feds in 2010 determined grouse needed protection under the Endangered Species Act to survive onslaughts of agricultural, housing and industrial energy development. And it marks a new all-hands-on-deck approach to wildlife conservation across large landscapes.
Boosted by a recent victory in Colorado, an environmental group is expanding its legal campaign to try stop coal mining because of climate change by challenging permits for some of the largest mines in the West. This time, New Mexico-based WildEarth Guardians is asking that a federal judge block mining at the Antelope Mine and Black Thunder mines in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the El Segundo Mine in New Mexico and the Bowie No. 2 Mine in Colorado. But it's taking the argument further. Rather than just saying that federal regulators should take the climate change impacts of individual mines into account before approving permits, the group claims that they should be looking at the cumulative effect of mining as a whole and whether the nation should allow any more.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced a $304,994.51 judgment against the former operators of a Seattle venue who booked events, including many weddings, knowing the space would be unavailable. The Cranes' business, EM Fine Art, had hosted events at a South Lake Union gallery. In two mass emails in June 2014, the Cranes informed their customers they would not provide use of the venue for already scheduled events and would not be refunding down payments. The first email falsely claimed the gallery had been destroyed by an electrical fire. Those emails were the last their customers heard from the Cranes. At least 59 consumers lost approximately $50,000 in deposits and other payments. "I'm committed to bringing a measure of justice to the victims in this case, many of whom were left with one of the most important events in their lives in disarray. We will work toward fully collecting this judgment to hold the Cranes accountable for their obligations and provide restitution for consumers," General Ferguson said.
New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider. "Cars these days are reaching biological levels of complexity," said Chris Gerdes, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University. The sophistication of new cars brings numerous benefits - forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking that keep drivers safer are just two examples. But with new technology comes new risks - and new opportunities for malevolence. Carmakers and consumers are also at risk. Dr. Patel has worked with security researchers who have shown it is possible to disable a car's brakes with an infected MP3 file inserted into a car's CD player. A hacking demonstration by security researchers exposed how vulnerable new Jeep Cherokees can be. A series of software-related recalls has raised safety concerns and cost automakers millions of dollars.
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah announced that The U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah's petition for a writ of certiorari in Utah v. Strieff.  The Court will address a Fourth Amendment issue important for day-to-day police work: whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant should be suppressed because the warrant was discovered during an investigatory stop that was later found to be just shy of the requisite reasonable suspicion. "Strieff's arrest on an outstanding warrant was an intervening circumstance that justifies use of the evidence at trial - and we welcome the U.S. Supreme Court's review of this matter," said General Reyes.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that he has established a partnership with the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Production ("the Coalition") to combat the rising use of synthetic drugs in the District and the related fallout for public health and public safety. The initiative aims to educate the public and businesses about the dangers and misinformation around synthetic drugs, and to further develop criminal and civil remedies to ameliorate the increased use of these substances. "The use of these synthetic drugs has become a national problem in need of a national response by a coalition of concerned agencies, organizations and states," General Racine said.

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]