Senate Confirms Four U.S. Attorney Nominees
By Andrew Ramonas | July 1, 2011 11:49 am

The Senate on Thursday confirmed nominees for four U.S. Attorney posts.

The chamber approved the nominations of Thomas Walker for the Eastern District of North Carolina, George Beck for the Middle District of Alabama, Felicia Adams for the Northern District of Mississippi and Ronald Sharpe for the Virgin Islands by unanimous consent.

President Barack Obama first nominated Walker on Nov. 30, 2009, to replace U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding, a George W. Bush appointee.

Holding was left at the helm of the office to oversee the campaign finance probe into former presidential candidate John Edwards, a Democrat. North Carolina Sens. Kay Hagan (D) and Richard Burr ( R )  worked to keep Holding in place while he supervised high-profile corruption probes into Edwards and former Gov. Mike Easley (D).

Edwards was indicted June 3, and Holding announced the following week that he would step down July 8.

Walker, a former federal prosecutor, is a partner at the law firm of Alston & Bird LLP in Charlotte, N.C.

Adams, whom Obama nominated March 2, will replace John Marshall Alexander, who has headed the Oxford-based U.S. Attorney’s office since December. Alexander succeeded Bill Martin, who took the helm of the office after U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, a George W. Bush appointee, resigned in January 2009.

She has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Mississippi since 2000. Adams is currently the acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, the No. 2 position in the Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney’s Office. She previously served at the Northern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1989 to 2000.

Adams emerged as a candidate for the position in March 2010, several months after Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who took the lead on picking U.S. Attorney candidates for Mississippi’s congressional Democrats, formally recommended criminal defense lawyer Christi McCoy for the job.

McCoy’s connection to a local private investigator, who was probed for his billing practices, dogged her candidacy. The Northern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, which handed the case, dropped its investigation last year, clearing McCoy.

Beck, whom Obama nominated March 31, will succeed Leura Canary, a George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney, who stepped down in May.

He currently is a shareholder at the law firm of Capell & Howard P.C. in Montgomery, Ala. Beck has spent most of his career in private practice, but served as Alabama deputy attorney general from 1971 to 1979.

In 1977, Beck handled the successful prosecution of Bob Chambliss for his role in the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala. The racially motivated attack killed four black girls and blinded another black girl.

The White House had considered Michel Nicrosi, who lost in a 2010 bid for Alabama attorney general, and defense attorney Joe Van Heest for Middle District of Alabama U.S. Attorney. But Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who supported another candidate, contributed to the slow pace of the process.

Sharpe, whom Obama nominated March 10, has served as the interim U.S. Attorney in the Virgin Islands since September 2009. He previously worked in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1995 to 2009, rising to First Assistant U.S. Attorney. The Virgin Islands hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney since October 2008, when Anthony Jenkins stepped down.

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