Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke doesn’t want the case against accused Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner moved out of state, the Arizona Republic reported.
Last week, it was announced that U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California, a former federal prosecutor, will preside over the case. Among the dead in the shooting rampage was U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, chief of the Arizona federal courts.
As previously reported, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins ruled that federal judges assigned to Arizona’s Tucson division must recuse themselves from presiding over the case because ethics rules require judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Burke’s office said in a statement that prosecutors would fight to keep the case in the state if defense attorneys seek to have it moved. He also denied reports that federal officials planned to move the case to San Diego.
“For good reason, federal law dictates these offenses be tried in this district,” a Burke spokesman said in the statement. The Republic reported that a Justice Department spokesman echoed the commitment to keep the trial in Arizona.
Six people died in the shooting rampage at an constituent event in a supermarket parking lot being held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-N.M.), who was severely wounded with a gunshot to the head.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry A. Burns of the Southern District of California, a former federal prosecutor, will preside over the case of Jared Lee Loughner, the suspect in Saturday’s shooting rampage, the Arizona Republic reported.
As previously reported, U.S. District Judge Raner Collins ruled that federal judges assigned to Arizona’s Tucson division must recuse themselves from presiding over the case because of ethics rules that require judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Burns was appointed to oversee the case by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which oversees the Arizona District Courts.
Burns has been a U.S. District Court Judge since 2003. From 1997 to 2003 he was a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Before becoming a judge Burns was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of California from 1985 to 1997 and a San Digeo County deputy district attorney from 1979 to 1985.
It has yet to be determined whether federal prosecutors in Arizona will be allowed to handle the case, or whether the case will be transferred to another district, most likely the Southern District of California.
Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to attend the ceremonial investiture for the Southern District of California U.S. Attorney on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney.
Laura Duffy officially took over the reins of the San Diego-based U.S. Attorney’s office in June. But U.S. Attorneys often have a ceremonial investiture later on, with local, state and federal leaders in attendance.
Holder has attended a dozen U.S. Attorney swearing in ceremonies so far.
Some U.S. Border Patrol agents told the voiceofsandiego.org in a report Monday that they are still upset about how the new Southern District of California U.S. Attorney handled the prosecution of a 16-year-old convicted of murdering one of their colleagues.
The law enforcement officials told the news website they were unsatisfied with the 40-year sentence Mexican national Christian Daniel Castro-Alvarez received in April for his role in the murder of border agent Robert Rosas. The teenager faced a life sentence in the case handled by Southern District of California U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
“It’s just demoralizing for our agents,” Shawn Moran, vice president of the the agents’ union, National Border Patrol Council, told voiceofsandiego.org. “We’ve always known we’re at the bottom of the pecking order. We can’t get an assault charge to save our lives when we are assaulted, but we thought if one of us is murdered, that no deals would be cut. You just don’t cut deals with people like this.”
The news website said it isn’t certain why Castro received a 40-year-sentence. Duffy declined to comment on the matter to voiceofsandiego.org in her first interview since becoming U.S. Attorney last month.
But Duffy, a 16-year veteran of the San Diego-based U.S. Attorney’s office, has support from other law enforcement officials, including the acting Border Patrol deputy chief of the San Diego sector.
“U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy is a top-notch prosecutor who is tuned in to border issues,” Rodney Scott, the acting deputy chief, told the news website. “She has been a good friend of the Border Patrol for many years and we look forward to working with her.”
Duffy told voiceofsandiego.org that combating border crime and national security issues are her top priorities. But the prosecutor said she will also focus on efforts to fight financial fraud.
The U.S. Attorney, who is openly gay, said she hopes her tenure as U.S. Attorney will be known for her work and not just her sexual orientation.
“I am honored that people would follow and celebrate the successes of my career, and I take to heart even the possibility that my being open about my orientation may lessen the stigma or apparent limitations even one individual feels,” Duffy told the news website. “It is my sincerest hope, that in the days and months to come, the thing that I become most known and celebrated for is the quality of my leadership and the continued good work of this office.”
Read the full interview here.
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Karen Hewitt, the former Southern District of California interim U.S. Attorney, will work for Jones Day in San Diego after almost two decades as a federal prosecutor, the law firm announced Thursday.
Hewitt, who started at the Justice Department in 1992, will officially leave the DOJ on June 11. She will join the firm’s trial practice.
“Karen is a widely respected attorney and has an impressive record of accomplishments as the top federal law enforcement attorney here in San Diego,” Anthony M. Insogna, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s San Diego office, said in a statement. “Now that she has decided to move into private practice, we’re pleased that she has selected Jones Day as the law firm where she will build the next phase of her career. Our clients in California and throughout the country as a whole will greatly benefit from Karen’s government experience, her strong local ties in the community, and her intimate knowledge of federal law.”
The prosecutor worked in the Civil Division Constitutional and Specialized Torts Section at the DOJ headquarters in D.C. before moving to San Diego in 2000.
Hewitt became Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2006, ascending to interim U.S. Attorney after Carol Lam was fired during the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge.
The Senate confirmed Laura Duffy last week to lead the U.S. Attorney’s office.
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Laura Duffy has assumed her new job as San Diego’s U.S. Attorney, The North County Times reported. Interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Karen Hewitt stepped down from her position before Duffy assumed her new position.
Hewitt, who had headed the office since U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was fired in the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge, will officially resign June 11, the newspaper reported. She plans to enter private practice in San Diego beginning in August.
The Senate confirmed by voice vote Friday two more U.S. Attorneys.
- Stephanie Finley was tapped on Jan. 20 to replace acting U.S. Attorney William Flanagan in the Western District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney’s office. Flanagan has led the Shreveport, La.-based office since Donald Washington stepped down as U.S. Attorney in January. Flanagan’s son, Robert, made national headlines in January for allegedly tampering with the phones in the office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) with three men including conservative documentary film-maker James O’Keefe. Finley has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana since 1995. Read more about her here.
- Laura Duffy was nominated on Feb. 24 to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. She is the first Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney in the Southern District since Carol Lam, who was one of the U.S. Attorneys dismissed during 2006 by the Bush administration. Read more about Duffy here.
The Senate has now confirmed 51 of President Barack Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees. The chamber has yet to consider another 16 would-be U.S. Attorneys who are waiting for votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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Laura Duffy (Iowa State University, Creighton University School of Law) is nominated to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. She would be the first Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney in the Southern District since Carol Lam, who was one of the U.S. Attorneys dismissed during 2006 by the Bush administration. The district’s current interim U.S. Attorney is Karen P. Hewitt.
- Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1962.
- Attended but did not earn degrees from the University of Iowa and Northwest Missouri State University.
- Has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of California since November 1997, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the narcotics enforcement section and as Deputy Chief of the general crimes section.
- Worked at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., from October 1993 to November 1997, serving as a trial attorney in the narcotics and dangerous drug section and the money laundering section.
- Clerked for public defender Thomas Riley in the Douglas County public defender’s office in Omaha from January 1992 to February 1993.
- Clerked for Kennedy, Holland, Delacy & Svoboda in Omaha from May 1991 to October 1991.
- Worked as a cook at the Village Inn in Ames, Iowa, during the summer of 1990.
- Was the assistant manager of Scandia Down, a retail store selling comforters and linens, in West Des Moines, Iowa, from June 1989 to May 1990.
- Worked as the assistant manager of Service Merchandise in West Des Moines, Iowa, from August 1988 to May 1989.
- Has tried four federal felony jury cases to verdict, serving as co-counsel in two and sole counsel in two.
Click here for her full Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.
UPDATE: On her Office of Government Ethics financial disclosure Duffy reported receiving a $23,637.50 distribution in 2009-2010 from Gila Rut, an Aveda salon in Chula Vista, Calif., which she has a 45 percent ownership stake in. She also reported earning $35,400 from nine speaking engagements at the Aveda Business College Seminar.
On her Senate Judiciary financial disclosure she reported assets of $2.1 million, mostly from two residences, and liabilities of $1.26 million, mostly from two mortgages, for a net worth of $831,500.
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President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of California would be the second lesbian U.S. Attorney of his administration if she’s confirmed, the D.C. Agenda reported last week.
Southern District of California U.S. Attorney nominee Laura Duffy, who was tapped on Feb. 24, is openly gay, according to the newspaper for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan is the first openly gay U.S. Attorney. Durkan, who sits on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, was in the first group of U.S. Attorney nominations Obama made in May.
“The nomination of Duffy, who is an out lesbian, to serve as a U.S. Attorney is significant for the LGBT community and demonstrates the Obama Administration’s dedication to promoting qualified and diverse candidates, judging them on their professional accomplishments,” Ty Cobb, legislative counsel for the gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, wrote in a blog posting Monday.
Obama’s nomination of two openly gay U.S. attorneys stands in direct contrast to the Bush administration, where the DOJ’s Inspector General found that aides to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales improperly considered sexual orientation as a criteria in making decisions for hiring and promotions. In 2006, Leslie Hagen, an attorney in the DOJ’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, found herself out of a job after Monica Goodling, a Gonzales aide, discovered Hagen was a lesbian. That same year, Margaret Chiara, the U.S. attorney in the Western District of Michigan, was let go in the mass firings of nine U.S. attorneys. The Inspector General’s report later found that Chiara may have been selected for dismissal in part based on an erroneous rumor that she was in a relationship with Hagen.
Hagen was later re-hired by the DOJ.
Duffy has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District since 1997. She would replace interim U.S. Attorney Karen P. Hewitt, who has led the San Diego-based office since Carol Lam was forced out during the 2006 U.S. Attorney firings.
President Barack Obama made four U.S. Attorney nominations on Wednesday, the White House announced late last night.
-Laura Duffy (Southern District of California): The Assistant U.S. Attorney, who has worked in the Southern District since 1997, would replace interim U.S. Attorney Karen P. Hewitt, who has led the office since Carol Lam was forced out during the 2006 U.S. Attorney purge. Read more about Duffy here.
-Wifredo Ferrer (Southern District of Florida): The assistant Dade County, Fla., attorney and deputy chief of staff to then-Attorney General Janet Reno would succeed R. Alexander Acosta as the next presidentially appointed U.S. Attorney. Acosta stepped down last summer, and his first deputy, Jeffrey H. Sloman, became acting U.S. Attorney. Sloman was appointed U.S. Attorney in January by U.S. Attorney Eric Holder and continues to lead the office pending confirmation of a new U.S. Attorney.
Read more about the nominee here.
-Alicia Limtiaco (Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands): The Guam attorney general would replace U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas, who has led the territories’ offices since 2003. Read more about her here.
-John B. Stevens Jr. (Eastern District of Texas): The Jefferson County, Texas, judge would succeed Rebecca Gregory, who resigned last May. Stevens and a U.S. Attorney finalist for the Western District of Texas are the only candidates for the state’s four U.S. Attorney posts who received the backing of the Texas House Democrats and the state’s Republican senators in a tense battle over recommendations. Read more about Stevens here.
Obama has now made 50 U.S. Attorney nominations. The Senate has confirmed 34 U.S. Attorneys thus far.