28 CFR 50.15: Representation of Federal officials and employees by Department of Justice attorneys or by private counsel furnished by the Department in civil, criminal, and congressional proceedings in which Federal employees are sued, subpoenaed, or charged in their individual capacities.
(a) Under the procedures set forth below, a federal employee (hereby defined to include present and former Federal officials and employees) may be provided representation in civil, criminal and Congressional proceedings in which he is sued, subpoenaed, or charged in his individual capacity, not covered by § 15.1 of this chapter, when the actions for which representation is requested reasonably appear to have been performed within the scope of the employee's employment and the Attorney General or his designee determines that providing representation would otherwise be in the interest of the United States. No special form of request for representation is required when it is clear from the proceedings in a case that the employee is being sued solely in his official capacity and only equitable relief is sought. (See USAM 4-13.000)
(1) When an employee believes he is entitled to representation by the Department of Justice in a proceeding, he must submit forthwith a written request for that representation, together with all process and pleadings served upon him, to his immediate supervisor or whomever is designated by the head of his department or agency. Unless the employee's employing federal agency concludes that representation is clearly unwarranted, it shall submit, in a timely manner, to the Civil Division or other appropriate litigating division (Antitrust, Civil Rights, Criminal, Land and Natural Resources or the Tax Division), a statement containing its findings as to whether the employee was acting within the scope of his employment and its recommendation for or against providing representation. The statement should be accompanied by all available factual information. In emergency situations the litigating division may initiate conditional representation after a telephone request from the appropriate official of the employing agency. In such cases, the written request and appropriate documentation must be subsequently provided.
(2) Upon receipt of the individual's request for counsel, the litigating division shall determine whether the employee's actions reasonably appear to have been performed within the scope of his employment and whether providing representation would be in the interest of the United States. In circumstances where considerations of professional ethics prohibit direct review of the facts by attorneys of the litigating division (e.g. because of the possible existence of inter-defendant conflicts) the litigating division may delegate the fact-finding aspects of this function to other components of the Department or to a private attorney at federal expenses.
(3) Attorneys employed by any component of the Department of Justice who participate in any process utilized for the purpose of determining whether the Department should provide representation to a federal employee, undertake a full and traditional attorney-client relationship with the employee with respect to application of the attorney-client privilege. If representation is authorized, Justice Department attorneys who represent an employee under this section also undertake a full and traditional attorney-client relationship with the employee with respect to the attorney-client privilege. Any adverse information communicated by the client-employee to an attorney during the course of such attorney-client relationship shall not be disclosed to anyone, either inside or outside the Department, other than attorneys responsible for representation of the employee, unless such disclosure is authorized by the employee. Such adverse information shall continue to be fully protected whether or not representation is provided, and even though representation may be denied or discontinued. The extent, if any, to which attorneys employed by an agency other than the Department of Justice undertake a full and traditional attorney-client relationship with the employee with respect to the attorney-client privilege, either for purposes of determining whether representation should be provided or to assist Justice Department attorneys in representing the employee, shall be determined by the agency employing the attorneys.
(4) Representation generally is not available in federal criminal proceedings. Representation may be provided to a federal employee in connection with a federal criminal proceeding only where the Attorney General or his designee determines that representation is in the interest of the United States and subject to applicable limitations of § 50.16. In determining whether representation in a federal criminal proceeding is in the interest of the United States, the Attorney General or his designee shall consider, among other factors, the relevance of any non-prosecutorial interests of the United States, the importance of the interests implicated, the Department's ability to protect those interests through other means, and the likelihood of a conflict of interest between the Department's prosecutorial and representational responsibilities. If representation is authorized, the Attorney General or his designee also may determine whether representation by Department attorneys, retention of private counsel at federal expense, or reimbursement to the employee of private counsel fees is most appropriate under the circumstances.
(5) Where representation is sought for proceedings other than federal criminal proceedings, but there appears to exist the possibility of a federal criminal investigation or indictment relating to the same subject matter, the litigating division shall contact a designated official in the Criminal, Civil Rights or Tax Division or other prosecutive authority within the Department (hereinafter “prosecuting division”) to determine whether the employee is either a subject of a federal criminal investigation or a defendant in a federal criminal case. An employee is the subject of an investigation if, in addition to being circumstantially implicated by having the appropriate responsibilities at the appropriate time, there is some evidence of his specific participation in a crime.
(6) If a prosecuting division of the Department indicates that the employee is not the subject of a criminal investigation concerning the act or acts for which he seeks representation, then representation may be provided if otherwise permissible under the provisions of this section. Similarly, if the prosecuting division indicates that there is an ongoing investigation, but into a matter unrelated to that for which representation has been requested, then representation may be provided.
(7) If the prosecuting division indicates that the employee is the subject of a federal criminal investigation concerning the act or acts for which he seeks representation, the litigating division shall inform the employee that no representation by Justice Department attorneys will be provided in that federal criminal proceeding or in any related civil, congressional, or state criminal proceeding. In such a case, however, the litigating division, in its discretion, may provide a private attorney to the employee at federal expense under the procedures of § 50.16, or provide reimbursement to employees for private attorney fees incurred in connection with such related civil, congressional, or state criminal proceeding, provided no decision has been made to seek an indictment or file an information against the employee.
(8) In any case where it is determined that Department of Justice attorneys will represent a federal employee, the employee must be notified of his right to retain private counsel at his own expense. If he elects representation by Department of Justice attorneys, the employee and his agency shall be promptly informed:
(i) That in actions where the United States, any agency, or any officer thereof in his official capacity is also named as a defendant, the Department of Justice is required by law to represent the United States and/or such agency or officer and will assert all appropriate legal positions and defenses on behalf of such agency, officer and/or the United States;
(ii) That the Department of Justice will not assert any legal position or defense on behalf of any employee sued in his individual capacity which is deemed not to be in the interest of the United States;
(iii) Where appropriate, that neither the Department of Justice nor any agency of the U.S. Government is obligated to pay or to indemnify the defendant employee for any judgment for money damages which may be rendered against such employee; but that, where authorized, the employee may apply for such indemnification from his employing agency upon the entry of an adverse verdict, judgment, or other monetary award;
(iv) That any appeal by Department of Justice attorneys from an adverse ruling or judgment against the employee may only be taken upon the discretionary approval of the Solicitor General, but the employee-defendant may pursue an appeal at his own expense whenever the Solicitor General declines to authorize an appeal and private counsel is not provided at federal expense under the procedures of § 50.16; and
(v) That while no conflict appears to exist at the time representation is tendered which would preclude making all arguments necessary to the adequate defense of the employee, if such conflict should arise in the future the employee will be promptly advised and steps will be taken to resolve the conflict as indicated by paragraph (a) (6), (9) and (10) of this section, and by § 50.16.
(9) If a determination not to provide representation is made, the litigating division shall inform the agency and/or the employee of the determination.
(10) If conflicts exist between the legal and factual positions of various employees in the same case which make it inappropriate for a single attorney to represent them all, the employees may be separated into as many compatible groups as is necessary to resolve the conflict problem and each group may be provided with separate representation. Circumstances may make it advisable that private representation be provided to all conflicting groups and that direct Justice Department representation be withheld so as not to prejudice particular defendants. In such situations, the procedures of § 50.16 will apply.
(11) Whenever the Solicitor General declines to authorize further appellate review or the Department attorney assigned to represent an employee becomes aware that the representation of the employee could involve the assertion of a position that conflicts with the interests of the United States, the attorney shall fully advise the employee of the decision not to appeal or the nature, extent, and potential consequences of the conflict. The attorney shall also determine, after consultation with his supervisor (and, if appropriate, with the litigating division) whether the assertion of the position or appellate review is necessary to the adequate representation of the employee and
(i) If it is determined that the assertion of the position or appeal is not necessary to the adequate representation of the employee, and if the employee knowingly agrees to forego appeal or to waive the assertion of that position, governmental representation may be provided or continued; or
(ii) If the employee does not consent to forego appeal or waive the assertion of the position, or if it is determined that an appeal or assertion of the position is necessary to the adequate representation of the employee, a Justice Department lawyer may not provide or continue to provide the representation; and
(iii) In appropriate cases arising under paragraph (a)(10)(ii) of this section, a private attorney may be provided at federal expense under the procedures of § 50.16.
(12) Once undertaken, representation of a federal employee under this subsection will continue until either all appropriate proceedings, including applicable appellate procedures approved by the Solicitor General, have ended, or until any of the bases for declining or withdrawing from representation set forth in this section is found to exist, including without limitation the basis that representation is not in the interest of the United States. If representation is discontinued for any reason, the representing Department attorney on the case will seek to withdraw but will take all reasonable steps to avoid prejudice to the employee.
(b) Representation is not available to a federal employee whenever:
(1) The conduct with regard to which the employee desires representation does not reasonably appear to have been performed within the scope of his employment with the federal government;
(2) It is otherwise determined by the Department that it is not in the interest of the United States to provide representation to the employee.
(c)(1) The Department of Justice may indemnify the defendant Department of Justice employee for any verdict, judgment, or other monetary award which is rendered against such employee, provided that the conduct giving rise to the verdict, judgment, or award was taken within the scope of employment and that such indemnification is in the interest of the United States, as determined by the Attorney General or his designee.
(2) The Department of Justice may settle or compromise a personal damages claim against a Department of Justice employee by the payment of available funds, at any time, provided the alleged conduct giving rise to the personal damages claim was taken within the scope of employment and that such settlement or compromise is in the interest of the United States, as determined by the Attorney General or his designee.
(3) Absent exceptional circumstances as determined by the Attorney General or his designee, the Department will not entertain a request either to agree to indemnify or to settle a personal damages claim before entry of an adverse verdict, judgment, or award.
(4) The Department of Justice employee may request indemnification to satisfy a verdict, judgment, or award entered against the employee. The employee shall submit a written request, with appropriate documentation including copies of the verdict, judgment, award, or settlement proposal if on appeal, to the head of his employing component, who shall thereupon submit to the appropriate Assistant Attorney General, in a timely manner, a recommended disposition of the request. Where appropriate, the Assistant Attorney General shall seek the views of the U.S. Attorney; in all such cases the Civil Division shall be consulted. The Assistant Attorney General shall forward the request, the employing component's recommendation, and the Assistant Attorney General's recommendation to the Attorney General for decision.
(5) Any payment under this section either to indemnify a Department of Justice employee or to settle a personal damages claim shall be contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds of the employing component of the Department of Justice.
[Order No. 970-82, 47 FR 8172, Feb. 25, 1982, as amended at Order No. 1139-86, 51 FR 27022, July 29, 1986; Order No. 1409-90, 55 FR 13130, Apr. 9, 1990]