NEWS ABOUT FORMER GUAM ATTORNEY GENERAL ALICIA LIMTIACO
Hope and Healing Guam has announced that Alicia Limtiaco will be the program's new chairperson of their Board of Evaluators. Hope and Healing Guam is a non-profit agency created to offer counseling services and compensation to victims of clergy sexual abuse. The executive director, Attorney Michael Caspino, was hired by the Archdiocese of Agana which is also funding the program. Caspino said that in their search for a chairperson, Limtiaco's name continued to pop up. Although Limtiaco has an extensive legal background, having served as Guam Attorney General and US Attorney, Caspino notes that Limtiaco was chosen not necessarily for her legal background but for her character and integrity. Both Caspino and Limtiaco emphasized that the goal of Hope and Healing Guam is to provide support and counseling for victims of sexual abuse and that each victim will have the discretion of moving forward with litigation regardless of their involvement in Hope and Healing Guam.
CWAG Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth of Alaska
announced the State has filed suit against the United States to assert ownership of the land underlying portions of the Knik River. After failed attempts to have the federal government recognize the State's ownership of the bed of this river, the State felt it had no option but to take the matter to court. "This case is an important step towards clarifying ownership and access rights for the Knik River," said Attorney General Lindemuth. "I would have preferred to avoid litigation, but the federal government refused to recognize the State's rights to these lands and waters. We are hoping that filing litigation will spur the federal government to quickly overturn its prior decision." Under the U.S. Constitution as well as federal law, the State of Alaska gained ownership to the beds of navigable or tidally-influenced water on the date of statehood. The only exceptions are waters expressly withdrawn by the federal government prior to statehood or waters determined to be "non-navigable." The federal Bureau of Land Management has previously issued a decision finding the disputed portion of the Knik non-navigable, and is currently reconsidering this determination. The State asserts that the disputed portion is navigable and is bringing the quiet title action to clear the cloud cast on its rights and title.
As part of a national initiative aimed at reducing demand for commercial sex and raising awareness about the exploitation of victims in human trafficking, CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts has partnered with local law enforcement across the state to charge sex buyers. Since March, the AG's Office and the Massachusetts State Police's Human Trafficking Unit worked with local law enforcement in Barnstable, Cambridge, Northampton and Springfield to arrest a total of 29 individuals in connection with attempting to purchase commercial sex during sting operations. "We know that demand for commercial sex is the driving force behind sex trafficking," said Attorney General Healey. "We hope that this initiative raises awareness that human trafficking is not a victimless crime. It is the exploitation of human beings. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to end the victimization of vulnerable people and put an end to these crimes."
FIGHTING DRUG ABUSE
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana
announced "Aid Montana: Addressing the Impact of Drugs," an initiative led by his office to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for addressing substance abuse in Montana. Speaking on the steps of the State Capitol, Attorney General Fox said, "Aid Montana will be a comprehensive approach to addressing Montana's substance abuse problem. While law enforcement will certainly be one method of addressing substance abuse in Montana, it certainly isn't the only approach. Treatment, education and coordination efforts are critical if we are to get ahead of this problem, and will be central components to our strategy." Over the summer, Attorney General Fox will partner with the Montana Healthcare Foundation to hold six listening sessions across the state to hear real life experiences of individuals affected by substance abuse. At these listening sessions, Fox hopes to hear a variety of stories, including those from people who've been affected by drugs in their homes; businesses owners who've had their work place affected by substance abuse; healthcare and social work professionals who see the effects of drugs on a daily basis; and community leaders who want to find public policy solutions to address this problem.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Improves Outcomes For Patients With Opioid Use Disorder
The Pew Charitable Trusts
has studied the problem of opioid abuse and found that opioid overdoses cause one death every 20 minutes. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)-a combination of psychosocial therapy and U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medication-is the most effective intervention to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and is more effective than either behavioral interventions or medication alone. MAT significantly reduces illicit opioid use compared with nondrug approaches, and increased access to these therapies can reduce overdose fatalities. However, MAT is often unavailable to those in need of it because of inadequate funding for treatment programs and a lack of qualified providers who can deliver these therapies. OUD is a chronic brain disease caused by the recurrent use of opioids, including prescription drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and illicit substances such as heroin. OUD includes dysfunction of the brain reward system, motivation, memory, and related circuitry and is reflected in individuals "pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors." As with other chronic relapsing conditions, the clinical course of OUD includes periods of exacerbation and remission, but the patient is never disease-free.
Cherokee Nation Sues Opioid Wholesalers, Retailers for Abuse
The Cherokee Nation
sued distributors and retailers of opioid medications, alleging the companies have contributed to "an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse" within the tribe and have not done enough to prevent tribal members from acquiring illegally prescribed opioid painkillers. The lawsuit alleges that six distribution and pharmacy companies have created conditions in which "vast amounts of opioids have flowed freely from manufacturers to abusers and drug dealers" within the 14 northeastern Oklahoma counties that comprise the Cherokee Nation. The tribe argues the companies regularly turn a "blind eye" to opioid prescriptions that would require further investigation before pills are dispensed. The lawsuit also alleges the companies have pursued profits instead of trying to reduce opioid-related addition that has taken the lives of hundreds of Cherokee citizens and cost the tribe hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs.
PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION SETTLEMENT
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California
announced a $9.8 million settlement with Walgreens, one of the largest drugstore chains in the United States. The settlement involved allegations that Walgreens failed to adhere fully to requirements imposed by California law for the dispensing of certain prescriptions drugs under Medi
Cal. The settlement is the result of lawsuits filed by whistleblowers and investigated and resolved by federal and state prosecutors. The lawsuits alleged that for more than five years, Walgreens falsely certified that it had complied with diagnosis-related requirements for the lawful dispensing of prescriptions to Medi
Cal patients. "Californians expect that pharmacies dispensing prescription drugs will do so in a safe and lawful manner," said Attorney General Becerra. "It is a violation of the public trust when pharmacies seek payment from the Medi-Cal program while knowingly violating state law."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin of Rhode Island
announced that the State of Rhode Island has reached a settlement in principle with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of unintentional discrimination by the R.I. Department of Corrections (DOC) in the testing process for correctional officer candidates due to the DOC entrance exams having an adverse impact on African-American and Hispanic candidates. The settlement in principle, which was reached after mediation overseen by U.S. District Court Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond, is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court. "This settlement, once finalized and approved by the Court, resolves a significant legal and financial issue for the State, and allows the Department of Corrections to move forward with confidence in its hiring process," said Attorney General Kilmartin, whose office represented the State and the DOC in the litigation. "I commend the attorneys who worked on behalf of the State in this case, specifically Assistant Attorney General Neil F.X. Kelly and Special Assistant Attorney General Ariele Yaffe," added Attorney General Kilmartin.