Debra Roth, managing partner at Shaw, Bransford & Roth has represented federal employees including federal attorneys and AUSA's for over 25 years, and had this to say when we asked about liability exposures involving federal attorneys:
For federal attorneys in regulatory agencies, public and congressional scrutiny is a given. And if you’ve worked in the government for at least a few years, you’ve seen that this scrutiny can lead to internal investigation into complaints from the public, and congressional inquiries or investigations if the matter gains political interest. Just ask any SEC attorney who works in the post-Madoff SEC workplace.
If you’re a DOJ attorney, then allegations of professional misconduct such as an alleged Brady violation, a failure to disclose a conflict of interest, or a misrepresentation in a pleading are all subjects to rigorous investigation by DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
And for AUSA’s, there is the added risk of being sued personally for prosecutorial decisions and by prisoners. Although most personal suits against AUSA’s are routinely dismissed by motion, there are the occasional suits in the post 9/11 theater that present more unique or complicated facts and claims that are not summarily dismissed.
And frankly, there is nothing "routine” about an OPR investigation or Bar complaint.
For federal attorneys, charges of professional misconduct could take the form of a Congressional, Office of Inspector General (OIG), an internal administrative complaint/investigation—or even a state bar proceeding. The fact that you are an attorney employed by the federal government does not preclude you from the vulnerabilities that face other federal employees, nor does it preclude you from some of the vulnerabilities that attorneys in private practice face, such as bar complaints.
Federal attorneys can face allegations of wrongdoing such as:
- Alleged abuse of investigative authority
- Alleged abuse of prosecutorial authority
- Discovery or other Brady violations
- Misrepresentation to a court or other tribunal
- Failure to disclose a conflict of interest
- Ethical allegations
- Alleged failure to follow SOP or other supervisory instructions
- Allegations of negligent performance of duties and other professional misconduct
For AUSAs, read this article on the OPR process by Debra Roth - it offers validation to the protections offered by our professional liability insurance policy. These are just some of the reasons that the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys (NAAUSA) recommends that all AUSAs purchase professional liability insurance.
AUSAs and other DOJ attorneys are eligible for reimbursement for half of the cost of the premium of the professional liability insurance.
FEDS Protection is Affordable:
$1,000,000 Policy Annual Premium is $290
$2,000,000 Policy Annual Premium is $390
*Premiums are subject to applicable taxes and administrative fees
Payroll deduction is also an available payment option, starting at $12 per pay period.
Enrollment takes less than 5 minutes.
Have questions? Call us at 866.955.FEDS.
Please see the Master Policy for complete policy terms and conditions.