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Civil Rights Division losing lawyers
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Almost one-fifth of the veteran lawyers in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Department have quit this year, the Washington Post reports.
Critics of the Bush administration say a buyout program was aimed at replacing veterans with lawyers sympathetic to the administration's views on civil rights. They point to a 40 percent drop in gender and race discrimination cases brought by the department.
Richard Ugelow, who left the division in 2004 to join the faculty at American University, said everyone knew the traditional civil rights caseload would drop when President Bush took office.
"But I don't think people anticipated that it would go this far," he said, "that enforcement would be cut back to the point that people felt like they were spinning their wheels."
Eric Holland, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the attrition rate in the division has only been slightly higher under Bush than in the Clinton administration. He said there were a record number of prosecutions in 2004, many of them for human trafficking offenses that became part of the division's responsibility under a law passed just before Bush became president.