July 26, 2021

Biden U.S. Attorney Picks Include First Black Lawyers to Hold Roles in 4 Districts

Biden U.S. Attorney Picks Include First Black Lawyers to Hold Roles in 4 Districts


President Joe Biden nominated eight new leaders for U.S. attorney positions across the country, four of which will be the first black lawyers to hold roles in their districts, the Associated Press reported.

Once the nominees are confirmed by the Senate, they would run offices in the District of Columbia, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Washington state. Some will even be the first female attorneys to lead their districts, according to the Biden Administration.

The White House said the eight were “chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice.”

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

President Joe Biden nominated eight new leaders for U.S. attorney Monday, four of which would be the first black lawyers to lead their districts. Marine One, with Biden on board, bottom left, approaches the South Lawn of the White House on July 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. U.S. President Joe Biden will return to the White House following a weekend in Delaware.
Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The nominees announced by the White House on Monday come as the Justice Department is continuing to round out its leadership team under Attorney General Merrick Garland, who traveled to Chicago last week to announce an initiative to crack down on gun trafficking corridors. The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. attorneys, who are responsible for federal criminal prosecutions in their respective districts, are likely to be central to efforts to combat violent crime.

The lawyers represent the first batch of U.S. attorney nominees advanced by the Biden White House, which is still working to fill key Justice Department posts six months into the administration. The White House last week announced the nomination of a lawyer to run its antitrust division but withdrew its nominee for the civil division head. No nominee has been announced for the key solicitor general role.

Among the nominees announced Monday is Matthew Graves, a former fraud and public corruption prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Columbia who is being tapped to run that office at a time when it is consumed by hundreds of cases arising from the Capitol riot.

The Trump administration appointee who held the job during the riot, Michael Sherwin, later left the Justice Department. The position has been held on an acting basis by Channing Phillips, who served in the same role during the Obama administration.

Rachael Rollins, the district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, would be the first Black woman to serve as U.S. attorney in that state. Erek Barron, a former federal prosecutor and policy advisor to Biden and a current state lawmaker, would be the first Black U.S. attorney in the District of Maryland, the White House said.

Other nominees include Zachary Myers, who specializes in national security and cyber matters as a federal prosecutor in Maryland and who the White House says would be the first Black U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Indiana; and Clifford Johnson, who would be the first Black lawyer to lead the Northern District of Indiana after spending nearly 35 years in that office.

Justice Department environmental lawyer Vanessa Waldref would be the first woman to run the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Washington. And Nicholas Brown, who has been a federal prosecutor and general counsel to the governor, would be the first Black lawyer to run the Western District of Washington, which encompasses Seattle.

The Justice Department disclosed in February that it was seeking the resignation of most U.S. attorneys appointed during President Donald Trump‘s administration, though it did leave in place David Weiss, the top federal prosecutor in Delaware, where law enforcement officials have been conducting a criminal tax investigation involving Biden’s son, Hunter.

U.S. attorneys serve at the president’s pleasure and are routinely nominated with a recommendation from a home-state senator. For instance, Trini Ross, a former federal prosecutor who is being nominated as U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York in Buffalo, was recommended for the job by the state’s senior senator, Charles Schumer.

Biden U.S. Attorney Picks Include First Black Lawyers to Hold Roles in 4 Districts
In this June 23, 2021 file photo, President Joe Biden listens as Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington to discuss gun crime prevention strategy. Garland traveled to Chicago last week to announce an initiative to crack down on violent crime and gun trafficking. The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. attorneys are likely to be central to that effort.
Susan Walsh/Associated Press



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