The Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office handles a wide variety of civil litigation to protect and advance the interests of the United States in the District of Wyoming. We are considered a small district, and our civil attorney staff is comprised of a Civil Chief and two to three Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs). Accordingly, all civil AUSAs are prepared to handle a wide variety of civil cases and matters that arise in the district.
The Civil Division defends the interests of the United States in cases where the United States is designated as defendant, protects the interests of the United States in cases where the United States has an interest but is not a party, and advances the interests of the United States in affirmative cases (where the United States sues a party in court and is designated as a plaintiff). Most of our civil cases are litigated in U.S. District Court; however the Civil Division frequently handles appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. AUSAs occasionally handle matters in State of Wyoming courts as well.
While in most cases civil AUSAs act as the lead attorneys for the government in the District of Wyoming, they can also serve as local counsel for cases litigated by Main Justice trial attorneys who work for one of the Department of Justice’s litigating divisions (including Environment & Natural Resources Division, Tax Division, Civil Division, etc.).
The Civil Division’s workload encompasses many different subject areas, each requiring varying levels of staff time to litigate. The categories of litigation requiring the most hours per year, on average, include Defensive Torts, Asset Forfeiture, Bankruptcy, Affirmative Fraud, Program Litigation, Environmental and Lands, Civil Rights, Employment Discrimination, and Commercial Litigation.
Defensive Tort matters involve claims that an employee of the federal government wrongfully harmed someone or an entity, such as negligence actions involving motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, recreational injuries, constitutional violations, etc.
Asset Forfeiture is coordinated within the Civil Division with the assistance of Criminal Division AUSAs. Federal laws provide that people convicted of crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, or terrorism forfeit both their profits and the equipment they used to commit the crimes. Forfeited assets are used for a variety of purposes, including restitution to victims of crime.
The Civil Division participates in bankruptcy cases to the extent the United States has a monetary interest such as federal tax liabilities, debts owed in connection with federal loan programs, oil and gas royalties on federal leases, etc.
The majority of Civil Fraud work stems from actions under the False Claims Act or anti-kickback statutes and may be characterized as health care fraud, financial institution fraud, defense procurement fraud, etc.
The Program Litigation category includes claims filed under the Administrative Procedure Act and other actions against the government where the opposing party challenges an agency policy or regulation or the application of a policy or regulation. The category also includes Freedom of Information Act matters, Privacy Act matters, actions to enforce or quash summonses or subpoenas, and tax litigation, among other things.
Environmental cases involve a wide variety of environmental and public land management statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Clean Air Act, Rivers and Harbors Act, Water Pollution Control Act, and other statutes regarding pollution, natural resources, and fish and wildlife. Land and natural resource litigation may concern land disputes, real property and condemnation matters, and issues relating to federal oil, gas, or coal resources.
Civil Rights cases are brought affirmatively by the government and may present issues such as disability discrimination, fair housing and voting rights matters, and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Employment Discrimination category primarily includes cases brought by federal government employees alleging gender, age, disability, or other discrimination.
The Civil Division handles both affirmative and defensive Commercial Litigation cases, typically foreclosures and government contract litigation, among other things.
Financial Litigation Program
Within the Civil Division, the Financial Litigation Program (FLP) oversees the collection of civil and criminal federal debts. The FLP is responsible for the enforcement of monetary impositions ordered as a result of criminal convictions in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. This includes fines and any restitution amount determined to be necessary to compensate victims of crime. Additionally, the FLP is responsible for obtaining and collecting civil judgments on defaulted federal debts, including student loans owed to the U.S. Department of Education.
The FLP strives to collect debts efficiently and diligently. Efforts include locating debtors and hidden assets in this country and abroad, establishing repayment agreements, and initiating post-judgment remedies such as wage garnishment.