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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Vermont

Friday, December 19, 2014

United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin Submits Resignation

United States Attorney Tristram J. Coffin submitted his letter of resignation to President Obama today, effective January 12, 2015.

Mr. Coffin was among the first of the U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Obama, serving since August 2009.  Mr. Coffin stated that he was incredibly grateful to President Obama for the opportunity to serve in his administration, and very proud of the accomplishments and transition the Department of Justice made under Attorney General Eric Holder.  Mr. Coffin also thanked Senator Patrick Leahy for his trust and steadfast support during his tenure.

“It has been the highest honor of my professional career to serve the people of Vermont and the United States seeking justice under the leadership of Attorney General Holder and President Obama,” Coffin said.  “I am also so grateful for the trust Senator Leahy placed in me by recommending me for this position, and by his support for our efforts throughout my time in the job.” 

Mr. Coffin also commended his colleagues at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he served as a line prosecutor for twelve years prior to his appointment.  “The prosecutors and staff of this office are second-to-none in the country,” Coffin said.  “Leaving such a dedicated and talented team of colleagues and friends is definitely bitter-sweet.”  Coffin also wished to thank the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as community groups from outside of law enforcement, who provided pivotal assistance to the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office.  “Partnerships and collaboration are absolutely essential to effective law enforcement in the modern era.  I am so thankful for our terrific partners throughout the state.”

During his time as Vermont’s head federal prosecutor, Mr. Coffin prioritized combatting Vermont’s expanding opiate problem using a multi-faceted approach that combined aggressive law enforcement with greater emphasis on treatment and prevention.  Along with dedicating substantial federal resources to heroin prosecutions, this effort began with convening a statewide conference of law enforcement, treatment and prevention experts in Montpelier in September 2010, keynoted by Attorney General Holder and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy.  Coffin also worked with Skip Gates, the father of a fatal heroin overdose victim, to produce the award-winning film “The Opiate Effect.”  Together they spoke at scores of Vermont high schools, middle schools and parent groups about the risks of opiate use and other high risk behaviors.

On the enforcement side, Coffin advocated expanding heroin investigations and prosecutions to areas outside of Chittenden County newly afflicted by heroin trafficking, emphasizing the importance of federal collaboration with partners from state and local law enforcement throughout the state.  The United States Attorney’s Office is currently developing a plan to dedicate four of its strongest narcotics prosecutors specifically to combatting heroin trafficking.

In addition, Coffin emphasized prosecution of financial crimes, child exploitation cases and serious violent crimes during his tenure.  On the civil litigation side, Coffin worked to expand litigation to recover money for taxpayers from government contractors and the recipients of federal funds, and to expand federal civil rights work in Vermont.  “I am particularly proud of the work our office has done on increasing access for Americans with disabilities through our accommodations work and our interventions in cases such as the Deanna Jones case.”  Jones was a visually impaired law student who successfully challenged, with assistance from the Department of Justice, bar exam testing requirements for the visually impaired.

On the national policy front, Coffin co-chaired the Criminal Practice Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee from the earliest days of the administration up to the time of his resignation.  This subcommittee advised the Attorney General on a number of key issues relating to charging and sentencing reform, improving the Department of Justice’s discovery practice, and helped develop a new protocol for taping of custodial interrogations and a new process for handling witness information of government witnesses.  Coffin also served on the Attorney General’s Health Care Fraud Working Group and the Environmental Enforcement subcommittee. 

After his resignation in January, Coffin will join the partnership of a local Vermont law firm.  His practice will consist of representing clients in Vermont and regionally in complex civil litigation and government enforcement matters.

Updated June 22, 2015