Leura Canary, One of the Last Bush U.S. Attorneys, to Retire
By Andrew Ramonas | May 26, 2011 4:58 pm

One of the last remaining U.S. Attorneys appointed by President George W. Bush will resign Friday.

Leura Canary, who has led the Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney’s Office since 2001, has no immediate plans for her career after she steps down as U.S. Attorney, a spokeswoman for her told Main Justice. Canary could not be immediately reached for comment.

She has spent 20 years in the Justice Department, starting as a Trial Attorney at DOJ headquarters before she moved to the Middle District of Alabama in 1994 to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. At the Montgomery-based office, she led the Civil Division before becoming interim U.S. Attorney in September 2001 and U.S. Attorney in November 2001.

As U.S. Attorney, she served on the full Attorney General’s Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2009, in addition to spending several years on AGAC subcommittees. The AGAC is the leading voice for U.S. Attorneys.

Canary also chaired the AGAC’s Child Exploitation Working Group from 2005 to 2010. She helped draft what became Project Safe Childhood, a program designed to help fight the sexual exploitation of children.

Only four U.S. Attorneys confirmed by the Senate and appointed by Bush will remain after her departure.

In March, President Barack Obama nominated George Beck to be her replacement.

Canary alienated many Democrats in Alabama for what they considered a politically motivated prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D).

At one point, the White House considered Michel Nicrosi, who lost in a 2010 bid for Alabama attorney general, and defense attorney Joe Van Heest for Montgomery U.S. Attorney. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby (R), who backed another candidate, contributed to the slow pace of the process.

Beck, a shareholder at the law firm of Capell & Howard P.C. in Montgomery, has strong Democratic credentials. As deputy attorney general under Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley (D) in the 1970s, Beck reopened the case against Bob Chambliss for his participation in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. He successfully prosecuted Chambliss for killing four black girls and blinded another black girl in the racially motivated attack.

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