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James Cole, Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice

( 19 votes, average: 4.6 out of 5)
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Cole was confirmed last week by the Senate. He has held the position since January 3rd, when he was installed by President Obama in a temporary recess appointment, according to the June 28th article, ''Senate approves Cole as Holder's top Justice deputy''.

Also receiving the Senate's approval were Lisa Monaco as assistant attorney general for national security, and Virginia Seitz as assistant attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel.

According to the article, Attorney General of the Unites States Eric Holder was quoted as saying: ''I am pleased the Senate moved to confirm Jim, Lisa and Virginia, following their appointments by President Obama,'' Mr. Holder said. ''I'm confident they will provide invaluable leadership to the department, and will play a critical role in protecting the American people, ensuring the fairness and integrity of our financial markets and restoring the traditional missions of the department.''

Cole joined the Department of Justice in 1979 as part of Attorney General's Honors Program. During the next thirteen years, he served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division, and also as the Deputy Chief of the Division's Public Integrity Section. He tried numerous notable cases, including the prosecution of a U.S. District Judge, a member of Congress, and a federal prosecutor.

In 1992, he entered private practice, and became a partner at Bryan Cave LLP, a position he held from 1995 to 2010. At the firm, he specialized in white collar defense, and provided counsel to businesses on matters including securities, regulatory, and criminal law issues.

In 1995, Cole was chosen to serve as Special Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. In this role, ''he led an investigation into allegations that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had'' used ''tax-exempt money for partisan purposes and misled the Committee'' during its inquiry. This investigation ultimately resulted in a formal reprimand of Gingrich, along with a requirement for him to pay penalties.

Cole has been a member of the adjunct faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, and has taught courses on public corruption law and legal ethics. He has also lectured at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. As well, he is a former chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) White Collar Crime Committee. He's also served as the Chair Elect of the ABA Criminal Justice Section. He earned his J.D. from the University of California-Hastings.

Making recent headlines was the memo Cole sent to U.S. attorneys, addressing state medical marijuana laws and penalties for violating those laws. Specifically, he wrote, according to the July 1st article, ''Justice Department and Obama reverse stance on medical marijuana raids'':

''Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA.''

According to the article, this is the complete opposite of the Obama administration's earlier position, which essentially was ''those in compliance with state medical marijuana laws wouldn't be a priority for federal law enforcement.''

This has led to an increase in federal raids on medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.

A lawsuit was filed recently against the federal government that seeks to stop enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in Washington, D.C. until a judicial review of its medical marijuana laws can be performed.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

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