First Batch of U.S. Attorney Questionnaires Released
By Joe Palazzolo | July 2, 2022 5:22 pm

The questionnaires for President Barack Obama’s first wave of U.S. attorneys nominees are now available. So, here are the highlights. Let’s begin with Preet Bharara (Harvard, Columbia Law), the nominee for New York’s super-prestigious Southern District:

  • Bharara, born in 1968 in Ferozepur, India, has been chief counsel to New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Judiciary Committee staff since 2005, and before that he spent five years as an AUSA in the office he aspires to lead.
  • In 2007, he was named South Asian Lawyer of the Year by the North American South Asian Bar Association for his participation in the investigation of the U.S. attorney firings
  • Also in 2007, his bar license in New Jersey lapsed for failure to pay dues. (“I had not known about the lapse until I happened upon an Internet posting and had not received notice from the State of New Jersey,” he wrote.) He promptly paid the dues and was reinstated.
  • In 1993, he volunteered with for the campaign of Mark Green for Public Advocate in New York City.
  • With the exception of handling a small number of habeas corpus petitions, Bharara’s entire practice, while an AUSA, consisted of criminal litigation in federal court. (He tried 10 cases to verdict.)
  • As chief counsel and staff director of the Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee, he supervised all criminal and other policy matters, including white-collar issues, violent crime, homeland security, counter-terrorism, and Congressional oversight of DOJ, FBI, and DEA.
  • He net worth is listed as $1.7 million. (Interestingly, he holds 2,949 common shares, valued at $206,000, in Diapers.com, an online baby-supplies company.)

Click here for his full questionnaire.

Tristram Coffin, nominee for U.S. attorney for the District of Vermont:

  • Coffin (Wesleyan, Columbia Law) was born in 1963 in Camp Lejeune, N.C.
  • Since 2006, he’s been at Paul Frank & Collins, based in Burlington, Vt. He was elected a director at the firm last year. His practice focuses on commercial litigation and representing health care providers in medical malpractice litigation. He also dabbles in criminal law and immigration work.
  • Prior to joining the firm, Coffin spent 12 years as an AUSA in the Vermont office ( He worked in the office’s Civil Division from 1994 to 1998, and in the Criminal Division from 1998 to 2006.)
  • He’s rather outdoorsy. Coffin is a board member and treasure of the non-profit Mad River Ski Club in Fayston, Vt., and he was previously on the board of governors of Lake Champlain Yacht Club in Shelburne, Vt. In 1985, he was a sailing instructor at the Boston Sailing Center.
  • Coffin was a law clerk and later a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology and the Law, from 1991 to 1994.
  • In 1992, Coffin worked as a campaign volunteer on Patrick Leahy’s Senate reelection campaign and President Bill Clinton’s presidential election campaign. (He had no formal position in these campaigns.)
  • He’s tried five cases to verdict, all in federal court.
  • His net worth is listed as $439,300.

Click here for his full questionnaire.

Paul Fishman, nominee for U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey:

  • Fishman (Princeton, Harvard Law) was born in New York, N.Y., in 1957.
  • Since 1997, he’s been a partner at Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman in New York, specializing in white-collar defense, corporate investigations and complex civil litigation. He’s represented individual and corporate clients in federal and state court, and before various regulatory agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • He was counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, associate deputy attorney general, and then principal associate deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. From 1983 to 1994, he was an AUSA in U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
  • He’s a member of Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center’s board of trustees. (Yankees fan?)
  • Fishman co-hosted fundraisers for Jon Corzine for Governor of New Jersey (2005), Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts (2005, 2006), Hillary Clinton for President (2007), and Frank Lautenberg for U.S. Senate (2007, 2008).
  • He has tried 12 cases to verdict.
  • Fishman represented Biomet, Inc., one of the major manufacturers of artificial joints, in connection with an investigation of payments to consulting physicians. The company was one of several to enter into deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements with then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Christie has been attacked for doling out a monitoring contract in one of the agreements worth up to $52 million to former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s consulting firm. (Christie, the Republican front-runner in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race, sparred with Democrats over the issue last week. Read about it here.)
  • Fishman’s net worth is listed as $5.1 million.

Click here for his full questionnaire.

B. Todd Jones, nominee for U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota:

  • Jones (Macalester College, University of Minnesota Law) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1957.
  • He’s been a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi since 2001, specializing in complex business litigation as both plaintiff and defense counsel. Jones has also served as special counsel to various boards of directors of public and privately held companies.
  • Jones previously served as U.S. attorney from 1998 to 2001. He was an AUSA in the office from 1992 to 1994, and later he returned as the first assistant U.S. attorney in 1997.
  • He attained the rank of major, ultimately serving as the commanding officer of 4th Marine Division Military Police Company, until his honorable discharge in 1998.
  • He was a member of the Minnesota State Finance Committee for the Obama for America campaign. In 2006, Jones was “an uncompensated advisor” to Rep. Keith Ellison, during his first campaign, and he was a member of the Minnesota Democratic Leadership Council from 1991 and 1995.
  • He’s tried about 20 cases to verdict, as sole counsel before a jury or members panel while in the military and as an AUSA.
  • In 2003, Jones successfully defended Baseball Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Twins star Kirby Puckett against allegations of sexual assault. (Puckett was acquitted of all charges.)
  • His net worth is listed as $1.4 million

Click here for his full questionnaire.

John Kacavas, nominee for U.S. attorney for the District of New Hampshire:

  • Kacavas (American, Boston College Law) was born in 1961 in Manchester, N.H.
  • He’s been a name partner at Kacavas Ramsdell & Howard since 2004, focusing on criminal defense, but he is also an expert in federal election law.
  • Kacavas was a New Hampshire state representative from 2001 to 2003. He served briefly as a trial attorney on the Justice Department’s Campaign Finance Task Force, and from 1993 from 1999, he was a state prosecutor.
  • He’s been a legal analyst for WMUR TV, the only statewide newscast in the state.
  • Kacavas worked as an uncompensated ward captain/legal observer in the 2008 presidential election.
  • He has tried about 50 cases to verdict, including first and second degree murder, negligent homicide, aggravated felonious sexual assault, financial crimes, drug cases and myriad felonies and misdemeanors.
  • Kacavas is the 3rd and 4th grade CYO basketball coach at St. George Cathedral, and an instructional league coach at Manchester North Little League.
  • His net worth is listed as $452, 900.

Click here for his full questionnaire.

Joyce Vance, U.S. attorney nominee for Northern District of Alabama:

  • Vance (Bates College, UVa Law) was born in 1960 in Saint George, Utah.
  • Since 1991, Vance has been an AUSA in the Northern District office, and before that, she was an associate at Bradley, Arant, Rose, and White in Birmingham and Arent Fox in Washington.
  • She joined the Northern District Office’s Criminal Division in 2001 and participated in 13 trials in her first year there. In 2002, she was moved to the Appellate Section, taking over as chief in 2005.
  • She also managed the office’s immigration docket, and after the sentencing guidelines were amended, Vance volunteered the Appellate Division to handle the crack-reduction petition docket.
  • Vance has tried 35 cases to verdict.
  • Her net worth is listed as $1.5 million.

Click here for her full questionnaire.

Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney nominee for the Western District of Washington:

  • Durkan (Notre Dame, University of Washington Law) was born in 1958 in Seattle.
  • She hung out her shingle in 1997 and has since handled a mix of both criminal and civil cases, including regulatory and campaign finance matters.
  • She worked at a variety of firms (including, gasp, Williams & Connolly) before opening the Law Offices of Jenny A. Durkan, taught trial advocacy at her alma mater, and served a stint as executive counsel to Gov. Mike Lowry in the 1990s. (She also worked for Lowry when he was congressman. Constituent services.)
  • Durkan was a baggage handler for now-defunct Wein Air Alaska in the summer of 1982.
  • She was the Washington State co-chair of John Edwards presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008, a member of the Credentials Committee at the 2008 Democratic Convention, and was counsel to Gov. Chris Gregoire during her 2004 and 2008 campaigns.
  • Since 1991, she has tried eight cases, including the row over the 2004 Washington State gubernatorial election, one of the closest in history. The results were contested in state court; Durkan was one of the principal trial lawyers.
  • Durkan has held several oversight roles, including citizen observer on the Seattle Police Department’s Firearms Review Board.
  • Her net worth is listed as $5.9 million.

(Full questionnaire unavailable.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee still must consider the nominations of Durkan and Fishman. The panel has approved Kacavas, Jones, Bharara, Coffin and Vance.

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