After a slow start, President Obama announced his first batch of U.S. Attorneys nominations on Friday. Notable among them is Joyce Vance for the Northern District of Alabama, who will replace the controversial Alice Martin. Martin has been accused of being part of a GOP cabal that prosecuted Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman for partisan political purposes.
The other nominees were, as expected: Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York’ Tristram Coffin for Vermont; Jenny Durkan for the Western District of Washington; Paul Fishman for New Jersey; and John Kacavas for New Hampshire. Read the White House annoucement here.
You can find some background on each of the six, pulled from our fabulous interactive U.S. Attorneys chart.
Bharara was recommended by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to succeed Michael J. Garcia as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara has been Schumer’s chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2005, where he helped lead the panel’s investigation into the firings of U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration. Bharara also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he was known for his prosecutions of mobsters and gang members. The Southern District is considered the most prestigious of the U.S. Attorney posts. If confirmed, Bharara will oversee an expected large case load of new Wall Street financial investigations.
If confirmed, Coffin will succeed Tom Anderson as the U.S. Attorney for Vermont. He is currently a white-collar criminal attorney at Paul Frank + Collins in Burlington. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont. He was recommended by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
Seattle lawyer Durkan is a confidante of Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and has even been described as her political “fixer.” If confirmed, Durkan, who is openly gay, will replace Jeffrey C. Sullivan, the interim U.S. Attorney since John McKay was forced out in the Bush administration 2006 U.S. Attorney purge. Sullivan previously served as chief of the district’s criminal division and as a Yakima County prosecutor.
Fishman is a white-collar criminal attorney at Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman in New York. He previously served in the District of New Jersey from 1983 to 1994 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and First Assistant to the U.S. Attorney. He also was a senior adviser to then-Attorney General Janet Reno from 1994 to 1997. He was recommended by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) The man he is succeeding, Christopher J. Christie was appointed by President Bush in 2002 and resigned in December 2008. Christie is running for New Jersey governor as a Republican. Christie was criticized for his decision to give a multimillion dollar no-bid contract to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s consulting firm, The Ashcroft Group, to supervise a New Jersey court settlement. The House Judiciary Committee investigated the contract, and the Justice Department changed its policies on court observers. Click here to read our most recent coverage of Christie.
JOHN PAUL KACAVAS
Kacavas, 48, is a partner at Kacavas Ramsdell & Howard in Manchester, New Hampshire, a firm he co-founded in 2002, according to the Manchester Union-Leader.
Vance has been the Chief of the Appellate Division in the Northern District of Alabama since 2005. She started at the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1991. Her husband, Robert Vance Jr., is a judge in the Jefferson County, Ala. Circuit Court. She was recommended by the Alabama Judiciary Advisory Committee formed by Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.)