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Historical Biography

James W. Moorman

James W. Moorman, AAG, Lands Division
James W. Moorman
24th Assistant Attorney General, Lands Division, -

Early History/Schooling:  James Watt Moorman was born on November 22, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Louis Lawrence and Lillian Watt Moorman.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 1959 and his law degree from Duke University Law School in 1962.

Tenure as AAG:  On May 5, 1977, President Carter nominated Moorman to be Assistant Attorney General of the Land and Natural Resources Division.  As AAG, Moorman sought to obtain more resources for the Division.  He expanded the number of litigating sections, adding the Policy, Legislation, and Special Litigation Section, the Hazardous Waste Section, the Environmental Enforcement Section, and the Wildlife Section.  The number of personnel in the Division increased from 277 in 1976 to over 350 in 1981.  The Division continued to bring groundbreaking lawsuits under the relatively new environmental laws.  These lawsuits increased public awareness of the need for cleanup authorities and contributed to the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, or the Superfund law) in 1980.  After CERCLA’s passage, the Division worked under Moorman’s direction to explore enforcement opportunities under the Act.  The Division also continued to explore and expand the role of criminal enforcement of the environmental and wildlife laws.  

Career:  Moorman served in the Army from 1962-1963.  From 1963-1966, he worked at the law firm of Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York City.  In 1966, he joined the Land and Natural Resources Division as a trial attorney in the General Litigation Section.  In 1969, Moorman joined the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, where he served as counsel in several pioneering public interest environmental law cases, including a suit against EPA to deregister DDT and a suit challenging the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.  From 1971-1974, Moorman served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and then as a staff attorney with the organization from 1974-1977.  At the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, he was involved in numerous groundbreaking cases involving the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Clean Air Act, the protection of undeveloped areas in national forests, and the law of standing. 

After serving as AAG, Moorman became a partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.  Moorman then served as president of Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF), a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to combating fraud against the Federal Government through the promotion and use of the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. He also served as a consultant with the organization.

Personal:  Moorman married Brenda Ann Thompson in 1961.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023