The Civil Division represents the interests of the United States and its agencies in all civil litigation at trial and on appeal. Below is an overview of its practice areas.
The Civil Division’s Civil Frauds Unit (the “CiFU”) investigates and prosecutes large-scale and sophisticated frauds, including health care fraud, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, procurement fraud, grant fraud, and other fraud in connection with federal monies and spending allocated under various stimulus and economic recovery legislation. The unit was formed in March 2010 and works closely with the Criminal Division’s Complex Frauds Unit. The CiFU vigorously pursues False Claims Act cases, brought to the Office by private whistleblowers and Federal agencies, concerning fraud or abuse in Government programs. In particular, the CiFU brought the Department of Justice's first mortgage fraud lawsuits against major Wall Street financial institutions for engaging in reckless lending practices prior to the financial crisis, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars from those institutions. In its health care fraud practice, the CiFU enforces laws and regulations governing health care providers on a wide range of issues, including false billing, cost reporting fraud, and research grant fraud.
The Civil Division enforces the federal civil rights statutes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act. Civil Division Assistants also work closely with Assistants in the Criminal Division to prosecute criminal civil rights cases, such as police and corrections officer brutality cases, hate crime cases, and violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
The Civil Division enforces the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) by bringing cases aimed at rooting out organized crime elements and influence from important sectors of the national economy. The Office has effected widespread institutional reform of local, regional, and international labor unions. The Office’s Civil RICO practice includes the enforcement and administration of consent decrees with labor unions such as the Teamsters, the Carpenters, and the Longshoremen.
The Civil Division brings major environmental enforcement actions and defends the Government from challenges to its regulatory authority. It enforces a variety of Federal statutes protecting our air and water, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Civil Division Assistants also actively enforce the Superfund laws to clean up hazardous waste sites and recover the cost of the Government’s cleanup.
The Civil Division frequently litigates cases implicating the security of the United States, defending the Government’s ability to gather intelligence or other national security information and protecting state secrets or similar sensitive or confidential information from disclosure. The national security cases arise in a wide range of contexts, including Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) lawsuits, First Amendment challenges, immigration cases, and the defense of the constitutionality of statutes.
Tax and Bankruptcy
The Civil Division represents the United States and its agencies in proceedings before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Civil Division Assistants have handled some of the largest and most significant bankruptcies in history, including the bankruptcies of Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia Communications, Chrysler, General Motors, and Lehman Brothers. In addition to bankruptcy cases, the Office is one of the few in the country that handles federal tax cases (which are typically handled by the Department of Justice’s Tax Division). The Division has recovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes, and also defends against taxpayer refund suits seeking millions of dollars.
The Civil Division represents the interests of the State Department and other agencies in connection with a variety of diplomatic and head-of-state immunity issues in cases in which the Government generally is not a party.
General Defensive Litigation
The Civil Division has a wide-ranging general defensive litigation practice, defending challenges to agency regulations and regulatory actions; challenges to the constitutionality of federal statutes and regulations; constitutional tort claims brought against federal employees in their individual capacities; employment discrimination cases; social security cases; immigration cases; and common law tort cases. The Division also represents federal agencies in connection with FOIA litigation.
The Civil Division represents the United States and its agencies and officials before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and before New York State appellate courts. Each Civil Division Assistant is responsible for his or her cases from initiation through appeal.