The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School is a legal research, education, and policy center that examines the implications of the jurisprudence of state attorneys general. Working closely with attorneys general, academics, and other members of the legal community, the Program is active in the development and dissemination of legal information used by state prosecutors in carrying out their civil and criminal responsibilities.
Each year, attorneys general visit Columbia Law School to share their ideas and vision for high quality, state-based law enforcement. Last semester, eight attorneys general interacted with students and shared their wide knowledge with the Columbia community and thereby contributed greatly to the Law School's commitment to serving the public interest.
Director Tierney Traveled Across the Country
These visits were a continuation of the program’s tradition of on-site visits and education. In March of 2012 Director Tierney visited the offices of the Colorado and Idaho attorneys general giving presentations on legal ethics that provided continuing legal education credits for those who attended and in June of 2012 he made a similar presentation at the Indiana Office of Attorney General. This year, Director Tierney will be traveling to see what issues attorney general offices face every day in order for the program to successfully carry out its mission of being a helpful and meaningful resource.
For more than ten years Director Tierney has worked as a consultant for state attorneys general and held continuing education session at annuals meetings of the National Association of Attorneys General. He has also taught courses on the role of state attorneys general in his capacity as a Lecturer-in-Law at both Columbia and Harvard Law Schools and presented before advocacy groups, businesses and private law firms.
Columbia Law School’s James E. Tierney Comments on National Cases
Program Director, Tierney said he doesn’t believe allowing Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro to run while under sealed indictment violated any rules of prosecutorial ethics.
Ultimately, the choice for prosecutors came down to barring someone who perjured himself from continuing in office or opting “to clean up what they considered to be far more serious – a series of criminal behaviors by multiple officials.”
“This was a tough call for the Department of Justice to make and they made it,” he said. “I’m not going to second-guess them. I probably would have made the same decision.”
“James Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, says that, in a state where it is legal, it is a prosecutor’s responsibility to pursue the death penalty if he believes the case calls for it, and spending the time and money without winning an execution would hardly signal complete failure.
A prosecutor might say that such a case is “in the interest of justice,” Tierney, a former Maine attorney general, told HuffPost. ‘Let's say he doesn't get the death penalty. Does that also mean that a trial was a waste of time? I don't think so. It's important for the community to understand who committed that crime and what the circumstances were.
‘The victims, the community, and in this case people across the country and around the world will have the opportunity to see that the people who died were real people. [We will] get to see their faces, their families, their photographs.’”
Steubenville Rape Case
Media Contact: Public Affairs, 212-854-2650 or email@example.com
New York, March 19, 2013— As debate over the outcome in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case continues, little attention has been paid to the question of why the matter is being handled by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine instead of by local prosecutors.
James E. Tierney, the director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School and the former attorney general of Maine, has handled similar cases in the past. He said state control makes sense in certain prosecutions:
"The tragic crime in the Steubenville matter required the case be taken over from local prosecutors by the attorney general for two reasons that recur regularly in our criminal justice system: resources and policy.
The intensity of some cases - such as the Steubenville case - requires that prosecutorial decisions be made outside the community where the case arises. This change of venue not only gives assurance that the matter will be handled without local pressures but also that it will receive sufficient resources in the form of out-of-town investigators and a state grand jury that will get to the bottom of what occurred.
The case gives rise to a broad policy question: to what extent should teenagers be held criminally liable for texting sexually explicit photos of a crime victim? Such a broad issue should be decided for the entire state and not be defined by a local prosecutor.
The assertion of authority by an attorney general over a local criminal matter is unusual, but not unheard of, as noted by the Sandusky prosecution and the review of the Duke lacrosse case, both of which were handled by attorneys general."
To schedule an interview with Tierney, please call the Law School’s Public Affairs Office at 212-854-2650, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to him directly at email@example.com
or (o) 212-851-1061 or (c) 207-837-1877.
The Law School's National State Attorneys General Program convened a conference examining the intersections between state regulation and the nonprofit sector, amidst rapid political, economic, and technological change.
2013 Charities Regulation Policy Conference:
“The Future of State Charities Regulation”
On November 20, the Labor Project of the National State Attorneys General Program hosted a special public event, The Changing Nature of the Employment Relationship, featuring George Jepsen, Attorney General of Connecticut, and Andrew L. Stern, Ronald O. Perelman Senior Fellow at the Richman Paul Center for Business, Law and Public Policy. Mr. Stern and Attorney General Jepsen discussed the breakdown of the traditional employer-employee relationship and the role that state regulators, employers and workers can play in resisting or influencing these changes to ensure that: workers receive the wages and benefits to which they are entitled by law, businesses compete on a level playing field, and states can establish and sustain healthy workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance programs and collect tax revenue properly arising out of the employment relationship. This topic lies at the heart of the social and economic fabric of the country, affecting the state of trust, sustainability and competitiveness at every level.
Read coverage of the event here
Program Director Tierney and Senior Counsel Lott Give Presentation on Health Care and Consumer Protection to NAAG (October 2012)
On October 29, Program Director Jim Tierney and Senior Counsel Cindy Lott were on a panel at the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Fall Consumer Protection Seminar with Sharon Clark, Insurance Commissioner of Kentucky, to discuss the role of attorneys general under the affordable care act. The discussion focused on the increased need for interdivision and interagency coordination within states to meet the impending challenges. Below is a list of resources and a memo highlighting specific issues attorneys general should be aware of within consumer protection and how they will interact with areas such as antitrust and charities.
Job of State Attorneys General
Program Director James E. Tierney was quoted in two recent newspaper articles on the job of state attorneys general. In the Richmond Times Dispatch, Director Tierney notes that the job of state attorneys general is independent of the other branches of state government. ” That's why attorneys general are independent. “That’s why they're separate; that's why they're elected," Tierney then goes on to say. "They make sure the rest of the executive branch obeys the law." In the Seattle Times article Director Tierney comments on why he thinks the independent and nonpartisan office of the state AG is changing due to national political influence in local AG races. “Washington shows up for every significant fight," says Director Tierney.
Read Articles Here
James E. Tierney
Director, National State Attorneys General Program
June 28, 2012
The Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a landmark ruling that has settled some questions regarding healthcare reform. Regardless of this outcome, attorneys general and their staffs will continue to be at the forefront of changes in our health care delivery system as they advise state government officials on ACA implementation. Attorneys general will clearly be integrally involved in future litigation arising from the ACA especially regarding Medicaid expansion.
The Health Initiative at the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School has been monitoring developments regarding the ACA within the federal government and within the respective states. We are a resource for attorneys general and advocates alike who need assistance in understanding how the ACA will be implemented and the role of the state attorney general in that implementation. Read more here
The Attorney General/Federal Mortgage Settlement and its Implications for Housing Finance (February 23, 2012)
James Tierney, Director of the National State Attorney General Program, Professor Robert Jackson, Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and James Millstein, CEO of Millstein & Co, LLC (Formerly Chief Restructuring Officer at the Department of the Treasury) discuss the recent mortgage-finance settlement and its implications for housing-finance policy going forward.
Health Reform Roundtable Discussion
On December 5th
, the Health Project
at the National State Attorneys General Program
hosted a roundtable discussion with designees from sixteen attorney general offices on the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The discussion focused on the role of state attorneys general beyond constitutional challenges pending before the Supreme Court
. Concentrating on areas where attorneys general have traditional involvement, the discussion highlighted areas expected to see more activity such as insurance market reforms, healthcare marketplace changes, and Medicaid expansion. The Health Project intends to release a resource guide that will reflect the responsibilities tasked to state attorneys general to aid their offices understand and prepare for healthcare reform implementation
Attorneys General of Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Hampshire Discuss Human Trafficking on Podcast. (November 10, 2011)
Attorneys General Pam Bondi of Florida, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Mike Delaney of New Hampshire, Paula Dow of New Jersey, George Jepsen of Connecticut, Eric Schneiderman of New York, and Bill Sorrell of Vermont were among a diverse group of state and federal officials and members of the advocacy and academic communities who convened at Columbia Law School on October 21 for the Eastern Region Meeting on Human Trafficking, sponsored by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).
The National State Attorneys General Program hosted a forum on human trafficking featuring Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Attorneys General of seven states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont) attended the Oct. 21 event along with senior staff from another dozen offices of attorneys general.
Arkansas Attorney General Visits Program, Records Podcast on Payday Lending (September 27, 2011)
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel visited the National State Attorneys General Program on September 23 for meetings with Director James Tierney, program staff, and Columbia Law students. In a discussion with Tierney for the AG Program Podcast, the former police officer from Jonesboro, Arkansas detailed his educational and professional experiences prior to his election as state attorney general. "Your state attorney general's office is absolutely extraordinary in the variety of work that is available," McDaniel said, discussing potential career opportunities for current students. "The notion that good lawyers are only found in high-paying corporate gigs is simply not accurate."
AG Program Podcasts (mp3)
United States Department of Labor, State Labor Regulators and Other Stakeholders Meet at Columbia Law School to Discuss Best Practices and Information Sharing to Prevent Unlawful Labor Practices (September 19, 2011)
On August 17-18, the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School convened an informal meeting of state and federal regulators, academics and advocates to discuss improving law enforcement at both the state and federal levels regarding payroll fraud and misclassification.
The key goal of the meeting was to enhance cooperation between the federal government, states, worker advocates, and employers. The meeting was convened a month prior to the United States Department of Labor’s signing of memorandums of understanding with the IRS and with a number of state regulators to provide for information-sharing with the goal of leveling the playing field between employers who follow the law and those who do not.
National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School
605 West 113 Street, #1 New York, NY 10025
(p) 212-851-1061 (f) 212-851-1064