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Tag: James Cole

Hemp Today: Department of Justice Guidance Should Shield Tribes Who Want to Grow Hemp

By Hemp Today

A 2013 Department of Justice memorandum designed to prioritize the goals of anti-marijuana legislation should shield Indian tribes who are looking at growing hemp as an industrial crop, former ND Federal Prosecutor Timothy Purdon said.

The so-called “Cole memo” is a policy statement based on Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole’s Aug. 29, 2013 guidance to federal prosecutors regarding anti-drug laws in states that have adopted ballot initiatives that “legalize under state law the possession of small amounts of marijuana and provide for the regulation of marijuana production, processing, and sale.”

Subsequent DOJ guidance in October 2014 expressly made the Cole memo’s priorities applicable on Indian reservations, meaning the prosecutorial focus would specifically not be on tribal lands.

While the Cole memo is focused on marijuana cases involving drug cartels, sales to minors, the use of firearms in drug deals, and interstate transport of pot, “It seems likely that those memos would apply to hemp farming,” Purdon told the Associated Press. “Under the factors in the Cole memo, it would seem like the department should not be prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of industrial hemp.”

A North Dakota bill passed this legislative session sets guidelines for industrial hemp production, and should make it easier for tribes to grow and process hemp-based products, boosting the tribes’ economic fortunes. ND State Rep. David Monson sponsored the bill, which is meant to put the state in line with the new federal farm policy that allows experimental hemp farming through state ag departments and university research programs .

Read more »

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to Step Down, Take Job in Private Sector

Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole/doj photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department is about to lose another high-ranking officials.

Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, second-in-command, announced Thursday that he’s taking a job in the private sector, the Washington Post reports.

The Post said possible successors include Sally Quillian Yates, who is U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Cole’s job was to run the Justice Department’s daily operations.

Cole spoke to the Washington Post about the difficulties of balancing security with civil liberties.

“If you just want to keep people safe and you’re willing to sacrifice people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties, that’s not so hard,” he said.

“If you just want to protect people’s constitutional rights and their civil liberties and you’re willing to sacrifice their safety, that’s not so hard either,” Cole said. “The hard part is to do them both.”

Justice Department Hunting for Worthy Inmates Who Would Qualify for Clemency

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department is searching prisoners who may qualify for clemency.

NPR reports that Deputy Attorney General James Cole met Tuesday with defense attorneys and interest groups to help identify inmates with clean records, long sentences for low-level crimes and no significant history with gangs or violence.

The speech is a strong indication that President Obama plans to use his powers to shorten prison sentences for some worthy prisoners.

Defense attorneys said they are excited to help.

“We look forward to working together with them and others to help identify potential commutation cases and ensure prisoners have trained pro bono counsel to submit focused petitions for the meaningful consideration the Deputy Attorney General has pledged they will receive,” said Mary Price of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Atty. General Eric Holder Says He Recused Himself in Justice Department Leak Probe Involving Associated Press

By Sari Horwitz and William Branigin
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that he recused himself from involvement in a Justice Department leak investigation that secretly acquired telephone records of Associated Press journalists.

But in response to questions at a news conference, he defended the department’s conduct in probing what he described as one of the damaging leaks he has seen.

Holder said he testified in June 2012 that he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the probe into a leak of classified information to the AP. “To avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest,” he said, “I recused myself from this matter.”

Since then, he said, the investigation has been conducted by the FBI under the direction of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and the supervision of the deputy attorney general, James M. Cole.

Read the full story click here.

Grassley Questions Justice Dept. Commitment to FBI Whistleblowers

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Chuck Grassley is questioning the commitment of Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and his Deputy Attorney General James Cole to FBI whistleblowers.

In a press released issued Monday, Grassley said one FBI whistleblower case “continues to languish for nine years and a second case sits in limbo for more than four years.”

“Whistleblowers are key to unlocking many of the secrets hidden deep in the closets of the federal government,” Grassley said in a statement. “Allowing a case to sit in limbo for more than nine years shows a lack of commitment to resolving issues for these courageous people.

“The excessive time to make a judgment on these cases indicates that the process for adjudicating FBI whistleblower claims is broken, and needs to be fixed,” Grassley added. “The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General have significant say over the speed at which these matters are addressed, and the recent decision by Deputy Attorney General Cole to remand a nine year old case for further proceedings is mind boggling and calls into question his commitment to help support whistleblowers.”

Grassley, in a letter to Holder, urged the attorney general to address whistleblower cases in a more timely manner.

Grassley mentioned former FBI agent Jane Turner who was fired in 2002 after disclosing to the Justice Department Inspector General after discovering that FBI agents removed items from Ground Zero following the attacks of 9/11.

Grassley said in his release that due to the Inspector General’s delayed decision, Agent Turner was forced to file an appeal with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management, which ordered the FBI to issue back pay, attorney’s fees and other relief.

After an FBI appeal, the Deputy Attorney General remanded the case for further proceedings and it now continues to languish nine years after Agent Turner’s original complaint, Grassley said.

Grassley also cited the case of Robert Kobus, a 30-year non-agent employee of the FBI who more than four years ago disclosed time and attendance fraud by FBI agents. The Inspector General substantiated his claims of retaliation for protected whistleblowing, yet his case has been sitting with the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management for four years.

“I presume you would agree that DOJ is sxending the wrong message to whistleblowers by taking an inordinate amount of time to issue final declarations for Agent Turner and Mr. Kobus,” Grassley wrote in the letter to Holder.

Read letter to Holder

 

Pot Laws Just Become More and More Confusing

Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The controversy over the legality of medical marijuana only seems to be getting more and more confusing.

The Associated Press reports that James Cole, the number two person at the Justice Department, has written a memo saying state medical marijuana laws do not provide immunity from federal prosecution, and refused to say Wednesday whether a recent crackdown in California by fed prosecutors signals a shift in federal policy that could impact other states.

Cole, the deputy Attorney General, said it’s up to individual U.S. Attorneys to decide how to enforce federal laws, AP reported.

“I think it says what needs to be said,” Cole said of his memo and the fed policy after a press conference in Colorado, AP reported.

Sixteen states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use, AP reported. California was the first in 1996.

The feds have raised concerns that some medical marijuana dispensaries are buying pot from unauthorized places and dispensing to people who don’t have a valid medical reason to use the drug.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Pot Growers, Sellers and Distributors May be Prosecuted in Medical Marijuana States

dea photo

By Joel Rosenblatt
Bloomberg

Large-scale growers, sellers and distributors of marijuana may be prosecuted in states that have passed laws permitting medical use of the drug, according to a Justice Department memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

The June 29 memo, from Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole to U.S. attorneys, says a 2009 memo issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden — referred to as the “Ogden Memo” — remains in effect.

The Ogden letter advised prosecutors that enforcement efforts against people using marijuana to treat cancer or other serious illnesses in accordance with state laws may not be “an efficient use of federal resources,” according to Cole’s memo. The Ogden memo was “never intended to shield” larger scale cultivation, Cole wrote.

To read more click here.

Sen. Confirms Dep. Atty. Gen. James Cole and 2 Others

James Cole/law firm

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Tuesday delivered the long awaited confirmation of Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.

By a vote of 55-42, the Senate confirmed Cole, 59, who had been nominated by the White House more than a year ago. But he bumped up against Republican opposition, so President Obama ended up giving him a recess appointment in December.

The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed Lisa Monaco, as Assistant Attorney General for National Security and Virginia Seitz, as Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel.

“I am pleased the Senate moved to confirm Jim, Lisa and Virginia, following their appointments by President Obama,” Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement. “I’m confident they will provide invaluable leadership to the department, and will play a critical role in protecting the American people, ensuring the fairness and integrity of our financial markets and restoring the traditional missions of the department.”

Cole  first joined the department in 1979 as part of Attorney General’s Honors Program and served there for 13 years – first as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division, and later as the Deputy Chief of the Division’s Public Integrity Section.

He entered private practice in 1992, and became a partner with Bryan Cave LLP in 1995, specializing in white collar defense.

In 2005, he was  appointed as an independent monitor at the insurance company AIG to review five years of transactions following a settlement with regulators involving allegations the company was setting up sham transactions to hide losses.

In 2006, he was charged with developing financial reporting and regulatory compliance programs at AIG.