Squire Patton Boggs’ State Attorneys General Practice Group is comprised of lawyers who have served at senior levels in state AG offices around the country and whose practices focus, to one degree or another, on representing clients before these increasingly assertive and powerful, yet often overlooked, government agencies, as explained in detail here.
In these updates, we will call attention to the most noteworthy state AG news or developments emerging in the previous week.
Led by California AG Xavier Becerra and District of Columbia AG Karl Racine, 15 AGs are demanding that U.S. AG Jeff Sessions rescind the Department of Justice’s harsh sentencing guidelines. In a May 10 memorandum, AG Sessions urged federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” and follow “mandatory minimum sentences.” AG Racine said, “There is simply no evidence to support the notion that these kinds of tough-on-crime guidelines are effective at anything other than ballooning prison populations and budgets.” Thirty current and former state and local prosecutors disagree with the AG’s directive by writing, “although there are no certain benefits to the newly announced policy, there are definitive and significant costs. The increased use of mandatory minimum sentences will necessarily expand the federal prison population and inflate federal spending on incarceration.” Many state leaders are calling Sessions’ directive a step in the wrong direction and one that should be quickly corrected.
Six attorneys general are asking for new federal regulations that would place restrictions on crude oil transported by rail through their states. New York AG Eric Schneiderman noted the danger of these trains traveling through densely populated areas without any limit on explosiveness or flammability. Much of the concern comes in response to a 2013 tanker explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec.
Wisconsin AG Brad Schimel asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a ruling that would require state legislators to develop new electoral maps by November 1, 2017. Schimel said, “Wisconsin should not be required to invest the considerable time, effort and taxpayer resources required to redraw district maps, especially when the case is likely to be reversed.”
Attorneys General from 47 states and the District of Columbia reached a settlement with Target for $18.5 million. The settlement comes in response to a security breach that compromised 70 million customers’ personal information, including their names and credit card numbers. Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Alabama were the only states not included in the settlement agreement. The awards will be distributed based largely on a state’s population; California will receive the largest award of $1.4 million. According to the company’s most recent annual statement, Target has spent over $202 million in legal fees attempting to resolve the data breach issue.
A federal court indefinitely stayed litigation over an Obama administration methane rule for new oil and gas operations to give the current Environmental Protection Agency time to review the rule. West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey said the decision is a victory for West Virginia families. He went on to say, “we appreciate the Trump Administration’s willingness to review the devastating impact of the oil and gas rule and look forward to hearing the new administration’s take on this unlawful regulation.”