The United States Department of Justice (Department or DOJ or Justice Department) is the federal executive department created with the objective of law enforcement and protection of United States’ interests (“About the DOJ”). The Department fosters public safety against risks which originate at home and abroad. Part of the Department’s duty is to stop crime when it occurs, monitor and control crime, and garner punishment for guilty offenders. Overall, the Department makes sure that all Americans receive fair and impartial justice. The Department came into existence on July 1, 1870, through the Act to Establish the Department of Justice of 1870 (The Act), naming the United States Attorney General as head. The Office of the Solicitor General, which represents the United States when in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, was created to assist the Attorney General. The Act is still the legislation that serves as the foundation of the Department’s authority. The DOJ, as enforcer of federal laws, is considered the largest law firm in the world.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The most sacred of the duties of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.” This sacred duty remains the guiding principle for the women and men of the U.S. Department of Justice (“About the DOJ”).
The current Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was nominated by President Barack Obama on November 8, 2014, and was sworn in on April 27, 2015 (“Office of the Attorney General”). Lynch attended Harvard College and graduated cum laude in 1981. She subsequently received her Juris Doctor degree in 1981, from Harvard Law School. Lynch initially became an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, a private law firm. She then joined the United States Attorney’s Office, in its Brooklyn, New York office, in the Eastern District. Lynch prosecuted violent crime, civil rights, narcotics, and public corruption cases. In the late 90s, Lynch was part of the prosecutorial team in the 1997Abner Louima case, of a Haitian immigrant who was suffered sexual assault by police officers in a Brooklyn precinct. She was appointed to head the office as the U. S. Attorney, which she held from 1999 until 2001. Lynch signed on as a partner with Hogan & Hartson LLP in 2002. While at the law firm, Lynch conducted pro bono services for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was formed to prosecute individuals who committed genocide and other human rights violations against Rwandan citizens. President Obama sought Lynch in and requested that she return to the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. While there, Lynch led successful prosecutions against terrorists, human trafficking, corruption in public office and cybercrime (“Office of the Attorney General”).
Executive Offices. The executive offices of the DOJ include, the Office of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the Associate Attorney General, and the Solicitor General’s Office (“U. S. Department of Justice”).
Divisions. The DOJ is divided into eight divisions:
•The Antitrust Division enforces antitrust laws, sharing its jurisdiction with the Federal Trade Commission on civil matters and provides regulatory counsel, the Antitrust Division also has a criminal enforcement capability (“About the AntiTrust Division”)
• The Civil Division provides representation to the United States, federal departments and agencies, cabinet officers, Congressional members, and some federal employees. This Division engages in litigation that may arise out of the normal conduct of governmental business, such as benefit programs, fraud contract disputes, accidents and challenges to Presidential actions (“About the Civil Division”)
• The Civil Rights Division enforces statutes related to racial, sex, disability, religious and national origin discrimination (“About the Civil Rights Division”)
• The Criminal Division works to enforce and oversee application and utilization of criminal laws on the federal level, including creation and implementation of enforcement policy. Further, the Division provides counsel on criminal issues, to the White House, Congress, and the Attorney General (“About the Criminal Division”)
• The Environment and Natural Resources Division in actions related to compliance with statutes on conservation and environmental protection, in addition to federal pollution abatement laws, wildlife protection and eminent domain matters. Also, the Division is legal counsel for the United States on issues related to development, use protection of U. S. lands and natural resources. Further, this Division defends suits on behalf of Native Americans and tribes (“About the Environment”)
• The Justice Management Division administers support to the various offices, bureaus and divisions of the Justice Department (“About the Justice Management Division”)
• The National Security Division provides national security and intelligence counsel and functions for the DOJ (“About the National Security Division”)
• The Tax Division prosecutes criminal and civil Internal Revenue Service cases, in addition to other tax case matters (“About the Tax Division”)
Bureaus and Agencies. There are also many bureaus and agencies administered by the Department of Justice (“Agencies”), including:
• The United States Marshals Service is the enforcement agency of the federal court system. The Marshals Service locates and arrests fugitives, transports offenders to and from prisons, protects court officers and those in the courthouse, manages seized assets, protects witnesses, and ensures that the judiciary operates in an efficient manner. The Marshal Service also oversees the Witness Protection Program (“US Marshal Factsheets”)
• The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the bureau with which we are most familiar. The FBI is the main law enforcement agency for federal level domestic intelligence and security. The bureau is part of the U. S. Intelligence Community, a cooperative of sixteen agencies who collaborate on intelligence issues, and is responsible to the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. The FBI handles counterintelligence, counterterrorism and criminal investigation, and has a hand in hundreds of types of federal crimes (“About the FBI”)
• The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) operates the federal prisons. Inmates who have violated federal law are placed in prisons under the jurisdiction of the BOP. The BOP also handles Washington, D.C. inmates whose crime was a felony. Another, less discussed responsibility of the BOP is performing federal executions (“About the BOP”)
• The National Institute of Corrections supports corrections agencies on the federal, state and local level. The Institute also funds corrections programs that are consistent with its objectives (“About the National Institute”)
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is an enforcement agency responsible for investigating and preventing federal crimes that involve the use, manufacture or possession of firearms, bombs, explosives, arson, and illegal transport of alcohol or tobacco. The ATF regulates the sale, custody and transit of firearms, ammunition and explosives (“About the Bureau of Alcohol”)
• The Drug Enforcement Administration works toward preventing drug smuggling and drug use. The agency pursues drug investigations at home and abroad and shares responsibilities with the FBI, Homeland Security the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol (“DEA Mission”)
• The Office of the Inspector General examines DOJ employees and programs to ensure against and detect misconduct, fraud, waste, and ensure the integrity of the Department (“About the Office of the Inspector General”)
In addition, there are numerous other offices and programs.
One of the most recent actions of the Justice Department was its findings in regard to its investigation into the death of Freddie Gray and the behavior of the Baltimore City Police Department (BPD) ("Justice Department Announces”). The DOJ found that the BPD, engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution as well as federal anti-discrimination laws. BPD makes stops, searches arrests without the required justification; uses enforcement strategies that unlawfully subject African Americans to disproportionate rates of stops, searches arrests; uses excessive force retaliates against individuals for their constitutionally-protected expression. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies that have persisted within BPD for many years and has exacerbated community distrust of the police, particularly in the African-American community. The city and the department have also entered into an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation ("Justice Department Announces”).
Attorney General Loretta Lynch expressed the importance of the public trust in policing, and further stated that in Baltimore City, that the “bonds of trust have been broken” ("Justice Department Announces”). The investigation determined that the BPD regularly engaged in unlawful behavior including stops that were not justified, unwarranted arrests, inappropriate seizures and the use of excessive force. She also gave praise to the BPD for its efforts to be proactive, collaborative and in demonstrating a commitment to restoring the public trust.
Further, the investigation found that the BPD failed to give officers guidance and the things they need to engage in constitutionally safe policing ("Justice Department Announces”). Yet hope was expressed, in that improvements were being made and would continue to flow from the BPD. Other communities, where trust had been broken have experienced transformation, and the same can be true for Baltimore.
Similar to the Freddie Gray and Baltimore City Police Department case, the Department of Justice serves the citizens of the United States by protecting their interests when actions take place in violation of federal law.
"About the AntiTrust Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/atr/about-division>.
"About the BOP." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.bop.gov/about/>.
"About the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.atf.gov/>.
"About the Civil Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/civil/about>.
"About the Civil Rights Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/crt/about-division>.
"About the Criminal Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/criminal/about-criminal-division>.
"About the DOJ." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/about>.
"About the Environment and Natural Resources Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/enrd/about-division>.
"About the FBI." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.fbi.gov/about>.
"About the Justice Management Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/jmd/about-division>.
"About the National Institute of Corrections." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <http://nicic.gov/aboutus>.
"About the National Security Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/nsd/about-division>.
"About the Office of the Inspector General." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://oig.justice.gov/about/meet-ig.htm>.
"About the Tax Division." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/tax/about-division>.
"Agencies." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/agencies>.
"DEA Mission Statement." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.dea.gov/about/mission.shtml>.
"Justice Department Announces Findings of Investigation into Baltimore Police Department." U. S. Department of Justice. 10 August 2016. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-findings-investigation-baltimore-police-department>.
"Office of the Attorney General." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/ag>.
“U. S. Department of Justice." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/doj/pages/attachments/2015/04/27/doj_june_2015_2.pdf>.
"U.S. Marshal Factsheets." U. S. Department of Justice. n. d. Web. 20 August 2016. <https://www.usmarshals.gov/duties/factsheets/index.html>.