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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance Retiring After 25 Years as Federal Prosecutor

BIRMINGHAM – U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance announced today that she will retire from the Department of Justice, effective at midnight Jan. 19, after 25 years as a federal prosecutor.

“It has been an honor to serve the Northern District of Alabama as U.S. Attorney for the past 7½ years,” Vance said. “I thank the dedicated men and women in my office, and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, for their tireless dedication. They serve with competence, integrity and a commitment to public service, and they honored me with their trust in my leadership. Together, we’ve taken on a full spectrum of challenges and have left our communities safer, while protecting the civil rights of all who live here.”

“Since the first year of the Obama Administration, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance has served the people of the Northern District of Alabama – and all of the American people – with compassion and integrity,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “During her tenure, she oversaw the development of a comprehensive initiative to tackle opioid and heroin addiction. She helped lead an ongoing investigation into abuse in Alabama prisons. She fought corruption and brought actions to protect the rights of immigrants. And she has been a valuable partner in the department’s efforts to improve relationships between police officers and the people they serve, including by welcoming me to Birmingham in 2015 during my Community Policing Tour. In these and in so many other ways, Joyce has been a dedicated servant of the law and a tireless champion of justice. I thank her for her outstanding contributions to the Department of Justice, and I wish her well in her future endeavors.”

Vance was one of the first five U.S. Attorneys nominated by President Barack Obama. The Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination on Aug. 7, 2009. Before her appointment as U.S. Attorney, Vance spent 18 years in the federal prosecutor’s office, last serving as chief of its Appellate Division. Before that, she served as both an appellate lawyer and as a criminal prosecutor. Vance served on Attorney General Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee from 2009-2011.

During her seven years as the chief federal law enforcement officer for the 31-county Northern District of Alabama, Vance maintained a keen commitment to protecting civil rights. That commitment was reflected in some of the key civil and criminal cases that the office pursued, including the successful challenge of Alabama’s 2011 HB56 immigration law and the first-ever statewide investigation into conditions and sexual abuse in Alabama’s prisons for men. She also worked with the University of Alabama to develop an action plan to increase diversity of the University’s Greek system and entered into a settlement agreement with Jefferson County that rectified violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at polling places. Vance partnered with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to bring Alabama into compliance with the Motor Voter Act.

In criminal civil rights matters, Vance’s office successfully prosecuted a string of “color of law” cases involving violent police misconduct and prosecuted a hate crime involving a defendant who tried to hire an undercover FBI agent, who he believed was a Ku Klux Klan hitman, to murder his African American neighbor.

Vance developed a community-wide initiative to combat heroin and prescription opiate addiction, based on the belief that it was not a problem we could “arrest our way out of.” She combined prosecutions of significant heroin traffickers with the creation of a Pills to Needles Initiative with the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health and the Jefferson County Department of Health that educated the public about the resurgence of heroin before it was widely recognized, and worked with a broad array of partners to identify and develop prevention and treatment opportunities.

Vance also worked closely with state and local law enforcement, in Birmingham and other cities, to establish violence reduction programs and to improve police-community relationships. Birmingham was one of six pilot cities for the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.

Recognizing that a smart criminal justice system focuses not only on enforcement work, but also on prevention and successful reentry to the community by former inmates, Vance initiated a project that seeks to identify and remove barriers to successful reentry, in order to reduce recidivism. That work included championing local businesses that successfully adopted ban-the-box employment practices to help people with criminal records find jobs, and creating a legal clinic at the University of Alabama School of Law to help people obtain driver’s licenses and overcome other obstacles to building productive lives.

Among the key criminal prosecutions during Vance’s tenure, the office prosecuted the state’s first material support of terrorism case in 2012. An Uzbek national was convicted and sentenced to more than 15 years in jail for providing material support to terrorism, threatening to kill President Barack Obama and illegally possessing a weapon.

The office also prosecuted Jonathan Dunning who, as the CEO of two non-profit health clinics meant to provide care to low-income individuals, fraudulently diverted $16 million in money and property for his personal benefit. Dunning was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Another of the office’s multi-million-dollar fraud prosecutions saw the conviction of Maurice William Campbell Jr., former state director of a consortium of business development centers, for a scheme to defraud the State of Alabama of more than $7 million. Campbell was sentenced to 15 years in prison.


Updated January 13, 2017