Press Archives - 2007
The New York Times, December 9
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the Times reports, responded to the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis by emphasizing a cooperative approach in which lenders are influenced into modifying mortgages in order to prevent foreclosures. This stands in contrast to the approach by other state attorneys general, such as New York's Andrew Cuomo, which have placed a greater emphasis on litigation against lenders. James Tierney commented that the scope of Miller's approach extends beyond his own state, saying "[Miller] believes that the best interest of Iowa will not be effected only in the four corners of Iowa."
New York Sun, November 6
The New York Sun reported that the U.S. Supreme Court seemed unlikely to rule that state tax breaks on in-state municipal bonds are unconstitutional. 38 states maintain taxes on such bonds when purchased outside of each respective state, but exempt these taxes for in-state investors. A ruling against the tax breaks would have a profound effect on the bond market. The program's James Tierney noted that the issue had not gained wide publicity: "If most governors were told they couldn't do this any more, they would say, 'Why not?' I don't think the issue has really percolated to the top of the agenda."
Asset Securitization Report, October 22
In late 2007, attorneys general, including Marc Dann of Ohio and Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, stepped up efforts to combat deceptive subprime mortgages by filing lawsuits against a number of lenders. Director James Tierney commented on the litigation:
James Tierney, former state attorney general for Maine and the director of the National State Attorneys General Program for Columbia Law School, believes that the AGs most important role for now will likely not be in the courtroom. "AGs have to prosecute fraud, but that responsibility in this case is, in my judgment, trumped by some broader responsibilities," he said. "There's no shortage of fraud in this area, but that's not going to keep people in their homes."
Public outreach will be critical for state attorneys general as they wade through the mess of foreclosures, according to Tierney. At an AG summit in Chicago last July addressing the subprime foreclosure crisis, it was determined that the majority of people facing foreclosure has never even called their banks. "There are some people who could get some help through modifications but are not taking advantage of it," said Tierney.
Columbia Spectator, October 17
The Columbia Spectator gathered reactions from throughout the Columbia University community, including program director James Tierney, on a series of racially charged incidents at the school:
According to the New York State Hate Crimes Act of 2000, a hate crime is described as an offense wherein the victim is selected or the crime is committed because of the victim’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation. But according to legal scholars, it is sometimes difficult to define what exactly differentiates a hate crime from a bias incident.
“It really comes down to intent and results,” said James Tierney, director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School.
South China Morning Post, September 22
After the announcement that Michael Mukasey would replace Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General, James Tierney assessed the appointment and the future of the Justice Department after a scandal involving the allegedly politically motivated firings of a number of U.S. Attorneys.
"There's no reason he won't be confirmed, but he will face very vigorous questioning about certain issues," Tierney observed. "For example, will he stand up for his career staff? Will he replenish the ranks of a department that has lost a lot of valuable career prosecutors?"
The Orange County (CA) Register, September 22
James Tierney was interviewed on the subject of the subprime mortgage crisis and state attorneys' general reactions to it.
"Attorneys general are approaching this looming crisis in a number of ways," said Tierney. "Because much of the fraudulent behavior was perpetrated by individuals and companies that are no longer in business, it is difficult for the attorneys general to meet this problem solely by prosecuting fraud. For that reason, attorneys general are focusing on meeting with various members of the lending industry and pressuring them to modify existing loan agreements with individual consumers who are facing the loss of their homes."
Legal Times, September 3
During a period of upheaval at the U.S. Department of Justice, Program Director James E. Tierney and Nicholas Gess, of counsel at Bingham McCutchen in Washington, D.C., offer words of advice to the incoming U.S. Attorney General in a short feature article.
Philadelphia Inquirer, August 28
James Tierney was interviewed by the Inquirer regarding the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales amidst a variety of allegations of wrongdoing, including the controversial firing of seven U.S. Attorneys. "Gonzales viewed himself as the president's lawyer, not as a law enforcement officer," said Tierney. "As such, he did not listen to or consider the views or concerns of state and local law enforcement officials, and that has led to policy drift and budget cuts that have had a devastating impact on the safety and security of Americans."
The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware), August 28
The News Journal interviewed a number of Delaware lawmakers regarding the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, including U.S. Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, as well as Program Director James Tierney, who said, "The job for the next attorney general is to reinstall the sense of morale and pride among all law enforcement officials."
Wall Street Journal, August 28
After the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Journal explored a number of potential successors (subscription required). James Tierney commented on potential nominee Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah:
"People would say he's a politician, but I don't think there's a reason to believe he couldn't be an honorable attorney general, and that's really what we want."
Stateline.org, August 27
James Tierney offered his perspective on the growing trend of lobbyists targeting state attorneys general in their efforts as the perceived risk of investigation and lawsuits at the state level has increased.In most states, lobbyists of attorneys general are not subject to laws overseeing legislative lobbyists. Tierney commented:
Tierney said it is not surprising – or, for that matter, a bad thing – that more firms are lobbying attorneys general, given the number of high-profile investigations that take place and the huge sums of money that can be involved.
“When attorneys general swing at the big guys, the big guys are going to swing back. It is natural that the decisions of attorneys general are going to be closely scrutinized,” Tierney said. He added: “I see nothing wrong with that. The more information they have, the better.”
The New York Times, August 25
As part of an examination of lending practices throughout the housing boom of the early- to mid-2000's, federal regulators along with attorneys general of states including Ohio and New York studied lenders' advertising, much of which has been seen as misleading. James Tierney commented on the difficulty in regulating lenders' advertising:
Some states require lenders to disclose the annual percentage rate on any loans they advertise. But legal specialists say it can be hard to enforce these and other consumer protection statutes. Companies simply withdraw ads when they receive cease-and-desist letters, but the ads often immediately pop up elsewhere.
“You do get an immediate positive feedback,” said James E. Tierney, director of the national state attorneys general program at Columbia Law School in New York and a former attorney general. “But it’s hard to make it a sustainable success since there are so many lenders and ads.”
New Haven Register, August 20
The state of Connecticut was home to a debate over potential mandatory "three strikes" sentencing laws after two paroled burglars allegedly broke into another home and murdered three residents, including two children. Outraged state legislators proposed modeling mandatory minimum sentencing laws after those in California, the strongest in the country. "I think it’s always a mistake to pass legislation in the aftermath of a tragedy," said Program director James Tierney. "You just don’t get it right; solid investment into parole officers, more money for district attorneys — that’s what works."
City Hall, August 14
Program director James Tierney commented (scroll down to article "Spitzer in a Box?") on allegations surrounding Eliot Spitzer, then Governor of New York, regarding the accused misuse of state troopers. The article detailed the aftermath of the scandal and analyzed Spitzer's approach to governance. Tierney offered his perspective on Spitzer's background:
Tierney pointed out that of the nine current governors who had previously served as state attorneys general, Spitzer is the only one without any non-prosecutorial public sector experience.
"Eliot’s the über-lawyer," he said, explaining that rather than being defined by a hard-charging prosecutorial mentality, he has "more finely-honed skill sets."