LOS ANGELES – United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker today announced the formation of a new Civil Rights Section within the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office. This Section will focus exclusively on affirmative enforcement of federal civil rights laws, including federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin.
“My office is committed to protecting the civil rights of every single resident in our district,” U.S. Attorney Decker said. “The formation of the Civil Rights Section will increase our capacity to address civil rights complaints and enhance our community engagement on these issues. Protecting these rights, and especially those of our most vulnerable residents, is one of my top priorities.”
The newly formed Civil Rights Section will focus on enforcing federal laws that:
prohibit discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, religion, familial status and national origin;
prohibit police misconduct;
protect the constitutional rights of institutionalized persons;
protect the employment rights of individuals serving in our armed services; and
prohibit discrimination in housing and lending.
The Section will also focus on increasing community outreach on these issues.
This week, approximately 40 Assistant United States Attorneys from across the United States who handle affirmative civil rights enforcement matters are in Los Angeles for training. This training, which is sponsored by the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in Washington, will provide AUSAs with in-depth instruction on various civil rights enforcement topics.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California serves residents in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The Central District of California, with a population of more than 19 million people, is by far the largest federal district in the nation.
Assistant United States Attorney Joanna Hull has been appointed to serve as the chief of the new Civil Rights Section. AUSA Hull received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was Order of the Coif. She spent seven years with the Department of Labor, both in Washington and in the Los Angeles regional office. Shortly after joining the United States Attorney’s Office in 2010, AUSA Hull joined the newly formed Civil Rights Unit in the Civil Division, which was the predecessor to the Civil Rights Section. AUSA Hull has worked on affirmative civil rights cases in a variety of areas, including disability rights and military service members’ rights. She also participated in the Civil Division’s investigation which resulted in a court-enforceable agreement with Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to ensure the constitutional rights of all county jail inmates, specifically to protect them from serious suicide risks and excessive force. AUSA Hull is returning to Los Angeles in mid-July after a one-year detail as the National Civil Rights Coordinator at the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. In that role, she served as a subject-matter expert on all civil rights matters and assisted in developing and providing training to federal prosecutors across the nation.
More information on the new Section can be found here. For more information on the Department of Justice’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/crt.
The Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section in the Criminal Division will continue to handle prosecutions related to criminal civil rights violations, including hate crimes and allegations that law enforcement officers used excessive force.