United States Attorney David. J. Hickton has restructured the U.S. Attorney's Office to focus attorney expertise and resources on specific categories of crimes and to more evenly distribute the caseload and levels of experience throughout the office.
The Criminal Division is comprised of three comprehensive Sections: Civil Rights, Exploitation & Corruption, National Security and Cyber, and Violent Crimes.
The Civil Rights, Exploitation & Corruption Section vigorously prosecutes hate crimes, police misconduct, human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. In addition, this Section prosecutes public corruption, environmental crimes and all types of financial institution fraud, including mortgage and healthcare fraud.
The National Security and Cyber Section prosecutes domestic and international terrorism and threats to our national security. This Section investigates and prosecutes cyber attacks upon public and private entities, as well as critical infrastructure. The Section also prosecutes internet and tax fraud, government program fraud, identity theft and counterfeiting.
The Violent Crimes Section principally investigates and prosecutes crimes of violence, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, criminal gangs and organized crime.
The Civil Division is comprised of two sections: Defensive Litigation and Affirmative Civil Enforcement. The main office in Pittsburgh is responsible for all civil litigation in the District, including Erie and Johnstown, with the exception of Social Security Disability Claims.
The Defensive Litigation Section is responsible for defending the United States, its agencies, and its employees in all civil matters in district court and when necessary in state court. This includes subpoena enforcement as well as resisting disclosure in state criminal or civil proceedings where the United States is not a party. The primary responsibilities of this section are torts (medical malpractice, excessive force, wrongful arrest, personal injury, etc.); employment discrimination; constitutional challenges; and program litigation, i.e. review of administrative or federal agency actions. In addition to purely defensive representation, this Section also represents the United States and its agencies in bankruptcy court, generally as creditors.
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Section is responsible for civil enforcement actions in the Western District of Pennsylvania. This section works closely with the Criminal Division of the office in "parallel" civil prosecutions, seeking remedies which are traditionally civil in nature, but have punitive and deterrent as well as compensatory characteristics. These remedies include monetary recovery under the False Claims Act and several civil monetary recovery statutes such as 18 U.S.C. §1345. Primarily, the ACE section is involved only in cases where the federal government has a financial/commercial loss or was an intended victim, when federal funds were involved. However, other areas where loss of federal funds is not essential for a potential civil recovery are drug diversion matters, environmental crimes, and financial institution fraud cases.
The Appellate Division handles all appeals in civil and criminal cases to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which is based in Philadelphia and has appellate jurisdiction of federal cases arising in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the United States Virgin Islands. Upon final judgment in federal district court, the losing party may appeal to the Court of Appeals, which reviews the rulings of the district court. Most of the government's appeals are appeals by criminal defendants from their convictions and sentences. Handling an appeal generally involves a thorough review of the record, the preparation of an extensive brief, and the presentation of oral argument before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals sitting in either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.
The Appellate Division also provides legal advice to the United States Attorney and other Assistant United States Attorneys on various legal and policy issues.
The Administrative Division provides support to the U.S. Attorney's Office staff in the areas of human resources, financial management, acquisitions management, systems (information technology) management, facilities management, public affairs, and support services.
The Executive Committee involves a cross section of attorneys who meet regularly with office leadership to address training and education, long-range planning, diversity and pro bono programs, and selective significant case review.
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