The Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York represents the interests of the United States in a wide range of affirmative and defensive civil actions in the United States District and Bankruptcy Courts, as well as in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The division has a main office, which is located in Brooklyn, and a Long Island office, which is located at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. The division is presently staffed by more than 50 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and several Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
The Civil Division has exceptionally strong affirmative, asset forfeiture, defensive, programmatic, and appellate practices. The affirmative practices include consumer protection, drug and listed chemical diversion, financial fraud and health care matters in which the Government investigates conduct and seeks monetary and other relief under a number of statutes, such as the Anti-Fraud Injunction Statute, Controlled Substances Act, False Claims Act and FIRREA. The division also maintains strong civil rights and environmental practices and brings numerous civil penalty actions to enforce Government health and safety statutes and regulations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Civil Division are at the forefront in developing and initiating affirmative cases that vindicate important governmental interests and protect the public.
The defensive practices, in which the Government is sued for money damages, include Bivens or constitutional tort actions in which federal employees and officials are sued personally for money damages, personal injury actions under the Federal Tort Claims Act (e.g., auto accident, slip and falls), medical malpractice cases against VA hospitals and federally subsidized health clinics under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and employment discrimination (race, national origin, religion, gender, age and disability) cases brought by Government employees against federal agencies. At any given time, the Civil Division defends hundreds of cases that seek, in the aggregate, hundreds of millions of dollars against the Government, its agencies, officials and employees. New Assistant U.S. Attorneys carry a significant docket of defensive cases from the pleadings stage through discovery, motion practice, trial and appeal.
Programmatic cases, in which declaratory and/or injunctive relief is sought, may be among the most high profile cases in the country and include cases brought under the Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act, and other substantive statutes, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the Social Security Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the River and Harbor Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. Civil Assistants have recently defended, inter alia, actions challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s right to search the cellular phone of a lawful permanent resident of the United States; actions seeking declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief for BOP’s alleged failure to provide religious accommodations for prisoners under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act; and actions brought against the United States Merchant Marine Academy under the Administrative Procedures Act challenging Midshipman disciplinary proceedings, disenrollment and deferred graduate designations.
The Civil Division also has several specialized units, including the Financial Litigation Unit (“FLU”), which is responsible for enforcing civil and criminal judgments by collecting debts due and owing the Government, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (“AFU”), which seeks to forfeit the proceeds and instrumentalities of crime, the Immigration Unit, which defends statutory and constitutional challenges arising under the nation’s immigration laws, and the Social Security Unit, which defends claims for benefits under the Social Security Act.
In addition, the Civil Division offers Assistant U.S. Attorneys the opportunity to prepare appellate briefs and to argue cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.