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house Bill H.R. 3154

Should the DOJ Inspector General Have the Authority to Investigate Misconduct by DOJ Attorneys?

Argument in favor

The DOJ OIG hasn’t been effective at investigating DOJ attorney misconduct in the past. It’s important to hold DOJ attorneys to a high standard of conduct, and giving the DOJ IG the power to investigate alleged misconduct will help ensure this happens.

Mark's Opinion
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11/29/2018
Isn’t that the DOJ Inspector General‘s job? A little thing called oversight?
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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11/28/2018
H.R.3154 - Inspector General Access Act I’m in support of the passage of the House bill H.R. 3154 AKA H.R.- Inspector General Access Act of 2017 which would amend the Inspector General Act to remove the requirement that the Dept. of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ IG) refer all allegations of DOJ attorney misconduct to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This gives the DOJ OIG the authority to investigate alleged misconduct by DOJ attorneys when they act in their capacity as lawyers, rather than referring these issues to OPR. The DOJ OIG hasn’t been effective at investigating DOJ attorney misconduct in the past. It’s important to hold DOJ attorneys to a high standard of conduct, and giving the DOJ IG the power to investigate alleged misconduct will help ensure this happens. SneakyPete..... 1*28*18.....
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Ray's Opinion
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11/29/2018
Definitively YES and also be responsible to report its finding to the congress.
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Argument opposed

The DOJ IG suffers from the same issue as the DOJ OIG — it’s still inside the DOJ. In cases of alleged DOJ attorney misconduct, it’d be better to refer cases to another agency to investigate, in order to ensure impartiality.

burrkitty's Opinion
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11/29/2018
They are still not impartial because they are still DOJ employees.
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Uwa's Opinion
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11/29/2018
It would be better for the sake of the department to not have investigations conducted from an in-house party. It would make more sense to bring someone from the outside who can investigate all the facts objectively and without bias.
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Adam's Opinion
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11/29/2018
Such investigative authority should not be vested in one person. Such authority should only be vested in a bipartisan Congressional Authority. DOJ officials and investigators should always be subject to oversight by Congress. Congress should be empowered and funded to bring charges and enforce penalties against corrupt DOJ personnel. If we leave this to the Executive Branch and allow the DOJ’s primary client to be that Branch, then the criminals in the White House can continue to obstruct Justice. The Justice Department needs to be reformed but not by one potentially corrupt individual.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3154?

This bill would amend the Inspector General Act to remove the requirement that the Dept. of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ IG) refer all allegations of DOJ attorney misconduct to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This gives the DOJ OIG the authority to investigate alleged misconduct by DOJ attorneys when they act in their capacity as lawyers, rather than referring these issues to OPR.

Impact

DOJ and the Inspector General Act of 1978.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3154

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill wouldn’t impact spending, since DOJ could implement it with existing personnel.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced this bill to establish greater accountability for the U.S. attorney’s office:

“By transferring the responsibility to investigate misconduct by DOJ attorneys to the DOJ-OIG, we hope to bring a greater level of transparency and accountability to DOJ operations. From 2002 through 2013, OPR documented more than 650 infractions, including allegations that federal attorneys intentionally misled courts and alleged abuses of the grand jury or indictment process. In the majority of the matters OPR categorized the violations as recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment.  However, DOJ does not make public the names of attorneys who acted improperly or the defendants whose cases were affected. Also, OPR’s reports are not available for public review. They are only available by FOIA request and even then they are often heavily redacted. As a result, DOJ, its lawyers, and the internal watchdog office itself are shielded from public scrutiny and responsibility. This legislation will restore public trust by providing the necessary checks and balances.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the sponsor of a combination bill in the Senate, argues this bill is needed to empower DOJ’s IG to do its job:

“Our federal government inspectors general do a valuable job providing the information voters and lawmakers need to hold federal government agencies accountable. Unfortunately the Department of Justice OIG currently does not have the power to review the conduct of DOJ attorneys, an oversight which this legislation corrects.”

In a statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Michael Horowitz, Chair of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficacy and DOJ Inspector General, spoke in strong support of this bill:

“Unlike IGs throughout the federal government, the DOJ OIG does not have authority to investigate all allegations of misconduct within the agency we oversee. While we have jurisdiction to review alleged misconduct by non-lawyers in the Department, including agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under Section 8E of the IG Act, we do not have the same jurisdiction over alleged misconduct by Department attorneys when they act in their capacity as lawyers—namely, when they are litigating, investigating, or providing legal advice. In those instances, the IG Act grants exclusive investigative authority to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility, a DOJ component that lacks the same statutory independence and protections the OIG is provided by the IG Act. This bifurcated jurisdiction creates a system where misconduct by FBI agents and other DOJ law enforcement officers is conducted by a statutorily-independent IG appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, while misconduct by DOJ prosecutors is investigated by a component head who is appointed by the Department’s leadership and who lacks statutory independence. There is no principled reason for treating misconduct by federal prosecutors differently than misconduct by DOJ law enforcement agents. Indeed, other federal IG are responsible for handling misconduct allegations against agency lawyers, including lawyers with prosecuting authority such as those at the Securities and Exchange Commission. I want to thank the Members of this Committee, Congressman Richmond, Congressman Hice, and Congressman Conyers, for their sponsorship of the Inspector General Access Act, H.R. 3154, which would ensure that misconduct by lawyers at the Justice Department is subject to the same independent IG oversight as is currently the case with agents and non-lawyers. I look forward to working with Congress to address this anomaly in our jurisdiction.”

This bill passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by a unanimous vote with the support of three cosponsors, including one Republican and two Democrats. There is a companion bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Rep. Richmond previously introduced this bill in the 114th Congress.


Of NoteRep. Richmond originally introduced this bill in 2015, after a scandal when the office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana was revealed to have leaked prejudicial trial information. After these improprieties were revealed, the OPR’s response was apparently nothing, leading Louisiana federal district court Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt to criticize the practice of having the DOJ investigate itself through OPR:

“First of all, having the DOJ investigate itself will likely only yield a delayed yet unconvincing result in which no confidence can rest. If no wrongdoing is uncovered, it will come as a surprise to no one given the conflict of interest existing between the investigator and the investigated… [The handling of this scandal] surely raises concerns about the capabilities and adequacy of DOJ’s investigatory techniques as exercised through OPR.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / utah778)

AKA

Inspector General Access Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 relative to the powers of the Department of Justice Inspector General.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJune 29th, 2017
    Isn’t that the DOJ Inspector General‘s job? A little thing called oversight?
    Like (18)
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    They are still not impartial because they are still DOJ employees.
    Like (32)
    Follow
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    It would be better for the sake of the department to not have investigations conducted from an in-house party. It would make more sense to bring someone from the outside who can investigate all the facts objectively and without bias.
    Like (25)
    Follow
    Share
    Such investigative authority should not be vested in one person. Such authority should only be vested in a bipartisan Congressional Authority. DOJ officials and investigators should always be subject to oversight by Congress. Congress should be empowered and funded to bring charges and enforce penalties against corrupt DOJ personnel. If we leave this to the Executive Branch and allow the DOJ’s primary client to be that Branch, then the criminals in the White House can continue to obstruct Justice. The Justice Department needs to be reformed but not by one potentially corrupt individual.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    H.R.3154 - Inspector General Access Act I’m in support of the passage of the House bill H.R. 3154 AKA H.R.- Inspector General Access Act of 2017 which would amend the Inspector General Act to remove the requirement that the Dept. of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ IG) refer all allegations of DOJ attorney misconduct to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). This gives the DOJ OIG the authority to investigate alleged misconduct by DOJ attorneys when they act in their capacity as lawyers, rather than referring these issues to OPR. The DOJ OIG hasn’t been effective at investigating DOJ attorney misconduct in the past. It’s important to hold DOJ attorneys to a high standard of conduct, and giving the DOJ IG the power to investigate alleged misconduct will help ensure this happens. SneakyPete..... 1*28*18.....
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    Investigations need to be conducted by impartial third parties. The DOJ investigating itself gives more opportunity to sweep important concerns under the rug.
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    Definitively YES and also be responsible to report its finding to the congress.
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    Seems like all Trump appointees are criminals either under investigation, already indicted or incarcerated which is exactly what needs to happen to President Bone Spurs.
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    How can true oversight be ensured if the investigators and suspects are employed by the same agency? Independent and third party oversight won’t assure 100% accountability, but it’s better than in house coworkers investigating one another.
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    Let it stay the way it is. This stops politically motivated meddling
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    Another ploy to stop investigations.
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    Leave it alone. The inspector General is appointed by the President too. That is the problem. When we have a crook for leader he can’t be trusted to appoint someone who has the country’s best interests at heart.
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    We are certainly seeing abuses in the Mueller investigation that need to be curtailed. Mueller’s prosecutorial bullying tactics border on the criminal. He needs to be investigated.
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    Need external oversight. We already see what happens when anyone or any entities is allowed to police themselves.
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    There is no way for them to be impartial. Private prosecutors are a safer bet.
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    There should be independent investigators that congress approved to investigate doj misconduct.
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    Attorneys general are NOT above the law.
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    The DOJ, as with all other governmental branches, must be impartial and that cannot happen if they are allowed to investigate themselves. They need an independent investigator to ensure justice is truly served. It’s called blind justice for a reason.
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    Of course! Military inspector general staff investigators are responsible for investigating military personnel, why wouldn’t the DOJ be the same?
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    An investigation should be referred to someone outside the DOJ to keep things impartial and clean.
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