Joyce Vance

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Joyce Vance
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama
In office
August 7, 2009 – January 20, 2017
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byAlice Martin
Succeeded byJay Town
Personal details
Joyce Alene White

(1960-07-22) July 22, 1960 (age 63)
St. George, Utah, U.S.
SpouseBob Vance
Alma materBates College (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

Joyce Alene White Vance (born July 22, 1960) is an American lawyer who served as the United States attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 2009 to 2017. She was one of the first five U.S. attorneys, and the first female U.S. attorney, nominated by President Barack Obama.

Early life and career[edit]

Joyce White Vance (née Joyce Alene White) was born on July 22, 1960, in St. George, Utah. She was raised by a single mother in the middle-class Los Angeles suburb of Monterey Park, California.[1] She received a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, in 1982 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985.[1]

Vance was a litigator in private practice at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Washington, DC, before joining the United States Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Alabama in 1991.[2] She spent ten years in the Criminal Division, working on investigations including that of Eric Robert Rudolph, who bombed a Birmingham abortion clinic and killed a police officer and set a string of church fires in the district.[3] She successfully prosecuted five Boaz, Alabama, police officers charged with Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights.[4] She moved to the Appellate Division in 2002 and became the Chief of that Division in 2005.[2][5]

U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama[edit]

Vance was nominated to become U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7, 2009.[2] She was sworn in on August 27, 2009, with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in attendance.[6] Attorney General Holder tapped Vance to serve on his first Attorney General's Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys in October 2009.[7][8][9] Vance co-chaired the AGAC's Criminal Practice Subcommittee, along with Vermont U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin.[10]

Vance helmed the first case of material support of terrorism in the Northern District of Alabama in 2011.[11] The defendant, Ulugbek Kodirov, pleaded guilty to charges of threatening to kill the President and material support of terrorism the following year and received a sentence of more than fifteen years in prison.[12] Vance was also instrumental in building awareness about cyber crime and working with businesses in key sectors on threat minimization and critical incident response[13][14][15][16] and prosecuted the first-ever cyber cases in the Northern District.[17]

Vance was credited with pursuing public corruption prosecutions with integrity.[18] Public corruption prosecutions were one of her top priorities.[19] Maurice William Campbell, Director of the Alabama Small Business Development Consortium, was sentenced in March 2012 to more than 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $5.9 million restitution for using his position to obtain funds meant for small businesses for his own use.[20] In 2013, Vance successfully prosecuted the Director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity for using half a million dollars of the agency's funds, meant for Headstart and other programs, to purchase real estate for herself.[21] She also prosecuted cases involving corruption and other misconduct by law enforcement.[22] She hired the first prosecutor in the Huntsville office dedicated solely to cyber prosecutions.

Vance developed a federal, state, and local law enforcement working group to deal with rapidly increasing heroin overdose deaths before the issue rose to national awareness.[23][24] At one point, her office arrested and charged more than 40 heroin dealers and traffickers in one week.[25] Vance also held a community summit and initiated community-wide planning to develop partnerships between law enforcement, public health officials, and addiction prevention and treatment specialists.[26][27] She continued to aggressively prosecute heroin traffickers throughout her time in office, ensuring that ringleaders received sentences of more than 20 years.[28] The working group developed in a community-engaged initiative widely credited with working on all fronts to reduce heroin and prescription opiate addiction and overdose deaths,[29]

Vance established a civil rights enforcement unit in the office.[30] Tom Perez, then the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and later Secretary of Labor, traveled from Washington, DC, to Birmingham to make the announcement of the new unit along with Vance.[31] In 2011, she successfully challenged Alabama's immigration bill, HB 56, on constitutional grounds.[32][33] The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found key portions of the law unconstitutional, and in 2013 the District Court entered a settlement in which seven challenged provisions of the law were permanently blocked.[34] Vance's office engaged with the University of Alabama on allegations of racial discrimination in sorority rush in the University of Alabama's sorority system when students brought to light the role of alumni in refusing admission to minority candidates.[35][36] In 2014, Vance prosecuted a man for trying to hire a KKK member to murder his African American neighbor.[37] Vance was involved in key work to protect the rights of Alabama voters, including a settlement of Alabama's violation of the motor voter act that brought the state into compliance,[38] and a settlement with Jefferson County, Alabama of countywide violations of access to the polls for citizens with disabilities.[39] Vance, along with Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, also launched a statewide investigation into inhumane conditions in Alabama's prisons.[40]

Vance adopted a "smart on crime" approach to violent and recidivist crime, intending to prosecute the most significant cases facing the district so that communities would be safer. In addition to violent crime prosecution, she worked with other community partners on prevention through a violence reduction initiative and on reentry initiatives, such as "ban the box" and legal clinics to help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter the community successfully and find jobs.

Vance also prioritized qui tam and False Claims Act cases. In April 2014, Amedysis Home Health Care agreed to pay $150 million to settle claims of Medicare fraud against them that were pursued by Vance's office working together with DOJ's Civil Division and several other U.S. Attorney's Offices.[41][42] A month earlier, Vance announced that Hospice Compassus would pay $3.9 million to resolve an investigation into Medicare fraud.[43] Vance also oversaw a case in which American Family Care agreed to pay $1.2 million to the federal government under the False Claims Act.[44] In June 2012, Rural/Metro Ambulance agreed to pay $5.4 million to resolve allegations that it was engaged in improper billing and provision of unnecessary service.[45]

Vance prioritized fraud cases, prosecuting Jonathan Dunning for the $14 million fraud that diverted funds meant to provide healthcare to low-income individuals.[46] She prosecuted a series of cases involving fraud in car loan origination.[47] Following the tornadoes that swept through Alabama on April 27, 2011, doing severe damage across the region, Vance's office took a zero-tolerance stance on disaster fraud.[48][49] In April 2014 she successfully prosecuted a ring of five people who conspired to make $2.4 million in fraudulent claims against the BP Oil Deepwater Horizon compensation fund.[50]

Post U.S. Attorney career[edit]

In April 2017, the University of Alabama School of Law announced that Joyce Vance would join the law school as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Law (effective August 2017) teaching in the areas of criminal justice reform, criminal procedure, and civil rights.[51]

In 2018, Vance signed a contract to become an MSNBC contributor, frequently providing on-air commentary regarding developments in the Mueller investigation and other legal issues that involved the Trump administration.[52] Since 2021, she also co-hosts the #SistersInLaw podcast with Jill Wine-Banks, Barbara McQuade and Kimberly Atkins Stohr, and the Cafe Insider podcast with fellow former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.[53] [54] In June 2022, Vance launched the Civil Discourse newsletter on Substack, which has since gained a readership of over 215,000 subscribers. [55] [56]

Vance also sits on the bipartisan advisory board of States United Democracy Center.[57]

Personal life[edit]

Vance is married to Bob Vance, a Jefferson County, Alabama, Circuit Judge. They have four children. Vance is the daughter-in-law of federal judge Robert S. Vance, who was murdered by a mail bomb in 1989.[1]

Vance is Jewish.[1] She is an avid knitter and once maintained a blog[58] (now dormant) about knitting and yarns.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hansen, Jeff (December 23, 2009). "'Well-nigh unshakable' Joyce White Vance '82 is one of Obama's first U.S. attorneys". Bates Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c MacDonald, John (August 7, 2009). "Senate Confirms Joyce Vance". Al.Com. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "Obama Nominates Vance as U.S. Attorney". Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  4. ^ Craft, Kim. "Judge Revokes Hooks' Bond". Gadsden Times. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  5. ^ MacDonald, John (August 10, 2009). "Vance Sworn In". Al.Com. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  6. ^ MacDonald, John (August 10, 2009). "U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance Will be Sworn in". Al.Com. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Johnson, Carrie. "Attorney General Prepares to Fill Advisory Panel". Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  8. ^ Palazzolo, Joe. "Holder Announces New AGAC Members". Main Justice. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Lawson, Brian (October 26, 2009). "Key Committees". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  10. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". Justice Department. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  11. ^ Faulk, Kent (February 10, 2012). "Uzbek Native Charged". Al.Com. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  12. ^ Reeves, Jay. "Kodirov Sentenced". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  13. ^ "U.S. Attorney to Moderate Panel of Experts on Cybercrime and Security | USAO-NDAL | Department of Justice". March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  14. ^ Sharpe, Keisa (March 25, 2015). "Staying one step ahead of cyber crime". Alabama NewsCenter. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  15. ^ "ICE Director Saldaña discusses combating cyber crime with DOJ Assistant Attorney General for National Security | ICE". September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  16. ^ "2015 DOJ Cybersecurity Seminar | Cyber Huntsville". Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "Two to plead guilty to fraud, HIPAA violations". February 8, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  18. ^ Blalock, Bob (August 12, 2009). "OUR VIEW: Birmingham's new U.S. attorney, Joyce Vance, says the right things about prosecuting public corruption". Al.Com. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  19. ^ Patterson, Nick. "Putting the Bad Guys Away". Weld. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  20. ^ "FBI Campbell Release". FBI.Gov. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  21. ^ "Prosecutors Charge Former JCCEO Official" (PDF). Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  22. ^ "Federal indictment: Huntsville police officer conspired to make cocaine trafficking charges go away". December 29, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  23. ^ "spike in deaths". May 30, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  24. ^ "Vance on Heroin". WBHM. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  25. ^ addiction coalition. "community action needed". addiction prevention coalition. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  26. ^ Patterson, Nick. "A Horse of a Different Color". Weld. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  27. ^ "Groups Organized to Address Opiate Abuse". Washington Times. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  28. ^ "Leader Of Birmingham Heroin And Cocaine Drug Ring Sentenced To 22 Years | USAO-NDAL | Department of Justice". July 10, 2014. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  29. ^ "The Pills to Needles Initiative — KNOW DOPE". Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  30. ^ "Doj Establishes Civil Rights Unit". Fox News Latino. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  31. ^ Faulk, Kent (August 22, 2012). "New Unit". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  32. ^ Epstein, Reid. "DOJ Sues Alabama Over Immigration". Politico. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  33. ^ Lawson, Brian (November 26, 2013). "Immigration Law Blocked". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  34. ^ Lawson, Brian (November 26, 2013). "Settlement Reached". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  35. ^ reeves, jay. "UA Sorority". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  36. ^ Hammontree, Mark (September 23, 2013). "Crimson and White". Crimson and White. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  37. ^ "Ala. man going to prison for KKK murder-for-hire plot". CBS News. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  38. ^ "State of Alabama Signs MOU with DOJ on Motor Voter Compliance - Office of the Governor of Alabama". Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  39. ^ Faulk, Kent (October 27, 2016). "Jefferson County agrees with DOJ to improve access to polls for disabled voters". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  40. ^ Faulk, Kent (October 6, 2016). "DOJ investigating violence and rape inside Alabama men's prisons". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  41. ^ "Home Health Care Company to Pay $150 Million". InsuranceFraud.Org. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  42. ^ "Amedysis Agrees to Pay $150 Million". DOJ. April 23, 2014.
  43. ^ "Hospice Compassus to pay $3.9 Million". March 27, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  44. ^ "American Family Care to Pay $1.2 Million". Seattle Whistle Blower Attorneys. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  45. ^ "Whistleblower Prompts Rural/Metro Ambulance to Pay $5.4 Million Qui Tam Settlement". FraudBlawg. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  46. ^ Faulk, Kent (June 17, 2016). "Jury: Former Birmingham Health Care CEO guilty in fraud case". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  47. ^ Silver, Jessica (October 1, 2014). "Loan Fraud Inquiry Said to Focus on Used-Car Dealers - The New York Times". United States: Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  48. ^ Faulk, Kent (April 26, 2013). "Disaster Fraud". Al.Com. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  49. ^ DeMonia, Robin (June 19, 2011). "Tornado Fraud". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  50. ^ "Gulf Oil Fund Fraud". Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  51. ^ "Former U.S. Attorney Named UA Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Law". April 18, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  52. ^ Samuelsohn, Darren; Schwartz, Jason (July 2, 2018). "Meet the Mueller pundits". POLITICO. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  53. ^ "Women Legal Trailblazers Launch New Podcast "#SistersInLaw" With Politicon Media". Cision PR Newswire. February 23, 2021.
  54. ^ "Joyce Vance Named Co-Host for the Cafe Insider Podcast". Vox Media. April 19, 2021.
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ "JOYCE VANCE". States United Democracy Center. Retrieved August 18, 2022.
  58. ^ Vance, Joyce; Vance, Joyce (March 14, 2018). "Elliebelly". Retrieved February 7, 2021.

External links[edit]