U.S. Attorney Conference, San Francisco, February 7, 1:00 pm

Welcome for Opening Session

I'm delighted to be here with you today and to join Mike Dettmer, Bob Mueller and Laurie in welcoming you to this first-ever OJP conference for U.S. Attorneys and members of their staffs.

My background is as a regulatory lawyer and civil litigator, mostly at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, DC. I also spent four years in the Government in the Carter Administration­as Deputy General Counsel of the Department of HEW and General Counsel of USDA. I came to Justice last spring to be Ray Fisher's Principal Deputy and became Acting Associate Attorney General three months ago when Ray left to join the Ninth Circuit. (Incidentally, he's sitting on his first case today.)

As you know, the Associate Attorney General basically supervises the civil litigating divisions. But I have been pleasantly surprised to see how many opportunities this job gives me to get involved with criminal justice issues and to work with the U.S. Attorneys.

One way is through the criminal cases brought by ENRD, and the Tax, Antitrust, Civil and Civil Rights Divisions, often in conjunction with your offices. The other way is through my work with that fascinating institution known as OJP. Through that work, I have come to understand the incredible breadth of the Justice Department's efforts to assist state and local jurisdictions in responding to crime -- not only in terms of funding, but just as important, in terms of providing expertise and technical assistance. These are efforts that have expanded tremendously under Janet Reno and Laurie Robinson, and efforts in which you play a vital role.

As U.S. Attorneys you are the front-line representatives of the Attorney General. You are the Department's primary link with state and local communities across this country. You are not only the chief law enforcement officer for your district but also the chief public safety officer. As such, your responsibilities go far beyond simply enforcing the law.

In fact, under this Administration we've taken the approach that your job responsibilities extend along the entire public safety continuum -- from prevention to post- incarceration release and follow-up in the community.

To help you in your broader role, OJP produced for each of you, as you'll remember, a fat reference book known as the Partnership Directory, which you first received at the Memphis U.S. Attorneys conference. The goal was to provide you with points of contact across other federal departments to help you work with your community to solve crime-related problems.

The problems faced by our communities cannot be solved by law enforcement and prosecution alone. Crime and related problems must be addressed comprehensively. That means we've got to address a range of issues -- from finding drug treatment programs for substance abusing offenders, to locating loans for small businesses to promote economic stability, to partnering with education to create after-school programs to help prevent juvenile crime.

As we've seen through SACSI and Weed and Seed, the U.S. Attorney is often the anchor of these comprehensive strategies. Without your commitment to thinking and working "outside the box," we would not have had the success that we have in reducing crime.

Now OJP ­ through its Office of Congressional and Public Affairs ­ has produced separate, updated editions of the Partnership Directory for each state. It can be a marvelous tool ­ if you use it. And I hope that you will.

OJP has identified your partners in each of several major disciplines at the federal and state levels. This is your "pointer system" to the people in your state who can work with you in carrying forward the Attorney General's vision about your role in ensuring healthy and safe communities.

I know many of you are already actively working to fulfill Janet Reno's vision. I've been impressed to see how much has been accomplished during this Administration, and I look forward to working with you in this last year as we endeavor to carry out the Attorney General's vision. Together we can continue to improve our nation's response to crime, enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system, and ensure the public safety.

In closing, I want to say a word about two special people I have gotten to know during the last year. The first is Laurie Robinson, who took over a slumbering, backwater OJP more than six years ago and, with the help of the agency heads you are hearing from at this conference, turned it into a vibrant, imaginative policy leader in the criminal justice field. The second is Mary Lou Leary, who is a distinguished alumnus of the U.S. Attorney community, who has been my deputy and friend, and who will be a terrific head of OJP. I know you enjoyed working with Laurie and her team, and I am confident that you will have a similar productive relationship with Mary Lou.