WASHINGTON - The Department of Justice held its 27th annual Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director's Awards Ceremony on Dec. 8, during which 159 award recipients from more than 45 districts were recognized for their dedication to carrying out the mission of the Department of Justice.
Recipients included assistant U.S. attorneys, law enforcement agents, litigation teams and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.
Among the award recipients were two individuals from the Eastern District of Texas, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte and Victim-Witness Coordinator Rebecca W. Smith.
"These award recipients have been honored for their service and dedication to our country, as well as to their local communities," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Each of these committed public servants has helped to advance the Justice Department's critical work. Their contributions have had a powerful impact in ensuring the strength of our justice system, the security of our communities, and the promise of our democracy."
U.S. Attorney John M. Bales for the Eastern District of Texas attended the ceremony in D.C., and said Batte and Smith were deserving and excellent public servants.
AUSA Batte received the award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney Ã¯Â¿Â½ Criminal for his work on a series of capital murder prosecutions in the Beaumont Division.
Beaumont is home to the Beaumont Federal Prison Complex which includes a U.S. Penitentiary (USP). Beginning in 1999, the penitentiary was the scene of several inmate-on-inmate murders.
In response, the USAO began a series of prosecutions designed to address both the criminal conduct and the bloody lawlessness that had become endemic to the Beaumont USP.
Because of the nature of the crimes, as well as the background of the defendants, the Attorney General authorized death penalty prosecutions for several of the defendants. Thereafter, AUSA Batte served as lead counsel in four of the five capital prosecutions authorized by the Attorney General.
Batte won guilty verdicts in every case with the jury returning verdicts of death for four of the five defendants.
Smith received the award for Superior Performance in a Litigative Support Role for her work as a Victim-Witness Coordinator for the past 20 years.
During her tenure, Smith has been called upon to assist with the investigation and prosecution many complex and noteworthy cases.
Some of the highlights include the Zacarias Moussaoui prosecution in the Eastern District of Virginia, where she was detailed to assist that VWC with the more than 5,000 victims and witnesses associated with that case; the James Byrd Jr. case, a joint federal-state case on the dragging death of Mr. Byrd; United States v. Wooten, et al., a complex OCDETF RICO/murder case with 99 witnesses; United States v. Allen Petty Jr., a fraudulent telemarketing Ponzi scheme with 50 witnesses and 2,500 victims; and United States v. Solis, the Plano heroin case, which had 35 witnesses at the grand jury and 80 witnesses at the trial.
Smith is also actively involved in victim and witness support for the violent crimes cases in the district. She is involved in outreach and is considered a resource for her peers throughout the State of Texas and the country.
EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys' offices around the country. For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao.