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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING RELEASES OAG ANNUAL REPORT

~ The Annual Report of the Attorney General for 2020 details the efforts of the Office over the past year ~

RICHMOND – Attorney General Herring has released the Annual Report of the Attorney General for 2020 that details the efforts of the Office of the Attorney General over the past year, including working tirelessly to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, protecting important new gun violence protection laws, transforming Virginia’s handling of sexual and domestic violence, fighting the opioid crisis, protecting Virginia consumers, and protecting the rights and safety of all Virginians.

 

“I am so incredibly proud of everything my team and I have been able to accomplish over the past year, especially when we were faced with so many unforeseen challenges in 2020,” said Attorney General Herring. “Through our tireless efforts, we have been able to protect Virginians and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, continue taking on opioid manufacturers and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis, successfully defend Virginia’s new gun violence prevention measures, and protect the rights of all Virginians. I want to thank my hardworking team for their dedication to helping Virginians and I look forward to seeing all that we can accomplish in 2021.”

 

Below are some of the notable OAG achievements from 2020:

  • Helping the people of Virginia and their government deal with the once-in-a-generation COVID-19 pandemic by:
  • Going to court at least fifteen times to successfully defend critical public health measures against legal challenges and subsequent appeals brought in state circuit courts and the Supreme Court of Virginia, as well as in federal district and appellate courts. These legal victories helped protect Virginians and slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Securing Virginia’s first moratorium on utility disconnections to ensure Virginians could safely stay in their homes, even if they had difficulty paying their power, water, or gas bills.
  • Outlining protections in the law against evictions for renters who had fallen behind non their bills because of job loss and economic hardship.
  • Passing a new law to protect economic relief payments from garnishment or seizure, ensuring that the payments were available to help Virginians, rather than seized by creditors.
  • Working with the legislature during the 2020 Special Session on criminal justice reform to pass important criminal justice and policing reforms including:
  • Reforming the decertification process to get unfit officers off the streets
  • Banning chokeholds
  • Banning “no knock” warrants
  • Establishing minimum training standards for law enforcement agencies
  • Giving local government the option to create civilian review boards with subpoena power to investigate alleged police misconduct
  • Changing several traffic offenses to secondary offenses, which eliminates the ability of law enforcement to pull over a vehicle to issue a citation
  • Prohibiting the use of the odor of marijuana as justification to search a motor vehicle
  • Writing and working with legislators to enact a new law granting the Attorney General of Virginia authority to conduct “pattern or practice” investigations to identify and put a stop to unconstitutional policing, such as patterns of racially disparate enforcement of unconstitutional uses of force.
  • Protecting voting rights, especially in response to the pandemic, including:
  • Securing important court orders to protect and expand access to voter registration, ballot access for candidates, and absentee voting, including vote by mail
  • Filing suit against the Trump Administration and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for their attempts to sabotage the United States Postal Service resulting in an injunction that ensured Virginians could vote and receive mail, medication, and other important items in a timely fashion
  • Successfully defending Virginia’s new gun violence prevention measures including:
  • Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month law (Trojan v. Settle)
  • Virginia’s red flag law (Draego v. Brackney)
  • Expanded background checks (Ehlert v. Settle)
  • Fighting to remove the state-owned monument of Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond
  • Numerous Monument Avenue residents filed lawsuits attempting to block the removal of this piece of Lost Cause propaganda, but the OAG successfully defeated every legal challenge (Taylor v. Northam; Gregory v. Northam) and helped pave the way for the statue’s removal
  • Completing a years-long project to completely eliminate Virginia’s backlog of untested sexual assault kits. As a result of the $3.4 million project:
  • 2,665 sexual assault kits were submitted for testing from law enforcement agencies across the state
  • 851 DNA profiles were uploaded into CODIS, the national DNA database
  • 354 “hits” were sent back to local law enforcement agencies for further investigation
  • Filing a landmark lawsuit to ensure that Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment is properly recognized, and that the ERA is added to the U.S. Constitution
  • Expanding efforts to fight human trafficking by securing funding to extend the work of the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force for an additional three years and into additional communities
  • In 2020, the task force conducted 60 new investigations, made 27 arrests, and identified 52 confirmed victims of human trafficking
  • The task force also expanded its outreach efforts by creating an LGBTQ and a Native American outreach subcommittee and coordinating an outreach initiative targeting airports and bus stations throughout the Hampton Roads Region
  • The OAG’s Richmond-area human trafficking project identified and provided services to eight juvenile victims of human trafficking
  • Serving the needs of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, processing requests for assistance from more than 1,000 victims of crime, adding 96 new participants to our Address Confidentiality Program, and continuing to provide services, even in spite of the challenges presented by COVID-19
  • In total, the Programs and Outreach Section delivered more than 160 presentations on crime prevention and victims services to more than 10,000 participants
  • Following Attorney General Herring’s call for major reform of Virginia’s cannabis laws, he worked with the General Assembly to successfully decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and place the Commonwealth on a path towards legal, regulated adult use
  • The General Assembly, with new leadership and new majorities, finally passed Attorney General Herring’s long-sought package of bills to better protect Virginians from hate crimes and white supremacist violence, including:
  • Updating Virginia’s definition of a hate crime: this bill creates protections against hate crimes committed on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability (HB 618, Delegate Ken Plum)
  • Empowering the Attorney General to prosecute hat crimes: this bill allows the Attorney General to prosecute hate crimes through the Commonwealth’s network of multijurisdictional grand juries (HB 787, Delegate Lamont Bagby)
  • Prohibiting Paramilitary Activity: This bill further restricts the kind of paramilitary activity by white supremacist militias and similar groups that were seen in Charlottesville in August 2017 (SB 64, Senator Louise Lucas)
  • Firearms at Permitted Events: This bill authorizes communities to ban firearms in a public space during a permitted event, or an event that would otherwise require a permit (SB 35, Senator Scott Surovell)
  • Helping enact important new laws that will protect Virginians from predatory and exploitative lending, a long-sought priority of this office and the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
  • In 2020, the Computer Crimes Section continued its important work by:
  • Handling 137 criminal cases and securing 22 convictions for distribution or possession of child pornography or internet solicitation of minors
  • Handling 283 investigatory leads and citizen complaints
  • Handling forensics in 55 cases for 26 separate jurisdictions across the Commonwealth. As part of these cases, examiners in the Computer Forensic Unit analyzed 239 pieces of digital evidence totaling 103 terabytes of data, including computer hard drives, cell phones, tablets, DVR recorders, and various storage devices
  • Processing 1,175 data breach notifications (up from 950 in 2019), and subsequently investigating and commencing enforcement actions against companies and organizations when necessary
  • Securing the indictment of a former Loudoun County priest as part of the Attorney General’s ongoing statewide investigation with the Virginia State Police into sexual abuse by clergy of children that may have occurred in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses
  • Attorney General Herring’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit continued to be a model for the nation, recovering over $335 million in court-ordered criminal restitution, asset forfeitures, fines, penalties, civil judgments, and settlements
  • This included the successful investigation and prosecution of Individior Solutions and its parent companies, Indivior, Inc. and Indivior, PLC, and two former Indivior executives; and a resolution with Indivior’s former parent company, Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, that resulted in state and federal recoveries of more than $2 billion
  • Attorney General Herring’s first-in-the-nation Animal Law Unit continued to grow in case load and reputation, handling more than 400 criminal, civil, regulatory, training, and other animal-related matters
  • Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section protected Virginians from exploitation and scams by:
  • Securing more than $32.3 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators
  • Processing 4,760 written consumer complaints
  • Receiving 27,617 calls to the Consumer Protection Hotline
  • Resolving or closing 3,339 complaints resulting in recoveries of $620,696.57

 

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