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Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the 63rd Annual Attorney General Awards


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Deputy Attorney General [Sally] Yates, for that kind introduction – and for your indispensable partnership in leading this department and advancing its vital mission.  It’s a pleasure to welcome you to this hall and it’s a privilege to present this year’s Attorney General’s Awards.  I want to thank Deputy Assistant Attorney General [Mari Barr] Santangelo, as well as her colleagues in the Justice Management Division, for all they have done to make today’s event possible and I want to extend a special welcome to the proud family members, friends and supporters who have joined us for this important and inspiring celebration.

We come together today to honor the extraordinary service, the impressive skill and the outstanding achievements of some of our nation’s most accomplished public servants.  The 312 remarkable individuals receiving awards stood out within a department that holds all of its employees and partners to an extremely high standard of excellence.  You have put in long hours, made immense sacrifices and, in some cases, placed yourselves in harm’s way.  You have taken on issues that once seemed intractable and made progress on problems that once seemed impossible.  And through it all, you have not only met, but exceeded, the expectations of your peers, your supervisors and the American people.  You are examples to your colleagues, paragons of your profession and inspirations to public servants everywhere – including me.

Among many others, this year’s award recipients include a team that investigated last year’s tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri and wrote a blueprint for other communities seeking to end biased practices and create the police-community partnerships they deserve.  We are honoring teams that helped to take down the notorious Gameover Zeus botnet, to dismantle the nefarious “Silk Road” black market and to bring charges against some of the world’s most prominent and prolific cyber-criminals, demonstrating the Justice Department’s deep and ongoing commitment to protecting the American people from crimes carried out in cyberspace.  And we are recognizing teams that investigated the actions of Citigroup, Bank of America and Standard & Poor’s in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, achieving record settlements and sending an unmistakable message that the Department of Justice is prepared to go after anyone whose misconduct helped bring about the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. 

The sheer diversity of your accomplishments highlights the broad scope of this department’s mission – and the extraordinary individuals that we rely on for its advancement.  You are prosecutors and field agents, paralegals and prison administrators, executive assistants and computer specialists.  A few of you have served the department for decades, while others joined just a few years ago.  Some of you labor in the spotlight of the media – while others perform critical and sometimes classified work that is known only to your colleagues.  But regardless of your experience or background, or your role in this department, what you all share is your clear dedication to excellence, your steadfast devotion to duty and the crucial part you have played in the department’s ongoing work to make our nation stronger, safer and more just for all Americans.    

I want to take a moment to recognize one individual in particular who we are honoring posthumously this afternoon.  Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells was a remarkable young officer who was killed while attempting to arrest a dangerous fugitive.  On that day and in all of his efforts, he proved himself to be a dedicated leader, a distinguished patriot and a fearless guardian of the country he loved.  He was also a devoted husband to his wife, Channing, who is here with us today.  And he was a loving father to a son who was not yet born.  At the funeral for Deputy Marshal Wells, my predecessor, Attorney General Eric Holder, spoke about this fallen hero’s strength, his courage and his uncommon valor.  He described him as “a man who believed in the importance of justice, of integrity and of service.”  And he reaffirmed our collective responsibility to make this world the place that Josie Wells imagined for his son – Josie Wells Jr., who was born two months ago. 

The women and men in this room are the heart of that vision and the soul of that effort.  You are safeguarding our neighborhoods and defending our communities.  You are protecting the American people from crime, from violence and from threats to our national security.  And you are working, every day, to ensure that our children grow up in a nation that guarantees opportunity, dignity and justice for all.

That work is ongoing.  That mission continues.  And the road to progress still stretches ahead.  But because of the remarkable work that you do; because of the daunting challenges you overcome; and because of your steadfast determination to protect this country and serve its people, I have no doubt that we can create the stronger nation we envision.  I have no doubt that we can build the empowered communities that we need.  And I have no doubt that we can make real the more just society that all our children deserve. 

Once again, thank you for your extraordinary contributions.  Thank you for your unfailing efforts.  And thank you, above all, for your commitment to the cause of justice.  Keep up the outstanding work.


Updated November 14, 2016