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Justice Department Names New Director of
Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism

WASHINGTON— Heather L. Cartwright, a veteran federal prosecutor and victim witness coordinator, has been appointed to be the new Director of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism (OJVOT), Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein announced today. Ms. Cartwright is a nationally-recognized expert in the area of crime victims’ rights who previously supervised one of the largest prosecution-based victim and witness assistance programs in the federal government.

Established by the Attorney General on May 6, 2005 pursuant to the Department of Justice Appropriations Act in December 2004, the OJVOT is a unit in the Justice Department’s National Security Division that monitors the investigation and prosecution of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad and works with other Justice Department components to ensure that the rights of victims of such attacks are honored and respected.

The OJVOT is also responsible for creating Joint Task Forces with the Department of State that are activated when terrorist incidents against American citizens overseas occur. In addition, the office responds to Congressional and citizen inquires on the Department’s response to such attacks, compiles pertinent data and statistics, and files any necessary reports with Congress.

Ms. Cartwright replaces Gregg Sofer, who served as OJVOT’s director since 2005.  Mr. Sofer now serves in the Criminal Division as the Director of the Department’s new national multiagency anti-gang task force, known as GangTECC (National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center).

“Ms. Cartwright has more than 15 years of federal government experience, most of which has been spent promoting the rights of victims and witnesses in a wide variety of criminal prosecutions,” said Assistant Attorney General Wainstein.  “Her demonstrated commitment to advocating for and supporting victims will serve her well as she works to ensure that Americans targeted in overseas terror attacks are guaranteed the rights and the services they deserve.”

Prior to her appointment as the OJVOT Director, Ms. Cartwright served as the Chief of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.  In this position, Ms. Cartwright oversaw a staff of 26 who provided myriad types of support and assistance to victims and witnesses in the thousands of cases prosecuted by that office each year before the D.C. Superior Court and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  The office manages programs involving victim assistance in cases of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, homicide, terrorism and other violent crimes; witness security; and victim notification. 

From 1998 to 2000, Ms. Cartwright was an attorney-advisor working for the Director of the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), where she oversaw the redrafting of the Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance, the Department’s basic policy manual on the treatment of crime victims and witnesses. 

In 2000, she was appointed the Director of the Federal Crime Victims Division at OVC, where she administered the Crime Victims Fund in support of programs to assist victims of federal crimes.  She also twice coordinated the National Symposium on Victims of Federal Crime, which is the premier training conference for victim assistance personnel working with the federal, military, and Indian country criminal justice systems.    

Ms. Cartwright received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Illinois/Champaign, after which she worked for three years at private law firms in Chicago and Los Angeles.  In 1988, Ms. Cartwright was appointed as a law clerk to the Honorable George M. Marovich, U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Illinois.  After her clerkship, Ms. Cartwright was a staff attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s regional office in Chicago before being appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the District of Columbia. 

During her eight years as an AUSA, she prosecuted cases in both D.C. Superior and U.S. District Court, including several years in that Office’s Violent Crime Section prosecuting serious firearms cases.