has made his choice for the next U.S. attorney to represent
Western Washington. Jenny Durkan, a longtime Seattle
lawyer and well-known friend of Gov. Christine Gregoire, still has
to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but the chances of that look
Seattle Times reporter
David Postman wrote in 2005 that Durkan is a “friend,
confidante and political counselor,” to our current governor.
more from Postman’s article:
“Durkan is an experienced courtroom lawyer who earlier in her
career specialized in defending people accused of white-collar
crime. She is a scion of a prominent Washington Democratic family
and a party activist with her own political ambitions.”
Durkan’s own Web site says she is “known for successful criminal and civil
litigation, and for her continued civic leadership. Ms. Durkan is
not just respected for obtaining favorable verdicts and
multi-million dollar settlements, but also for her ability to
resolve sensitive cases discreetly.”
While the spoils system is
long gone, presidents are still able to reward their partisan
counterparts with powerful posts. I can’t speak to other federal
districts, but here in Western Washington, it has gone along party
lines for at least these past two commanders-in-chief. President
George W. Bush tapped two Republicans in John McKay
Jeffrey Sullivan; and Obama has asked a Democrat.
Of course, there was high drama in terms of
McKay’s post. And as it turns out, that was political too.
To me, the irony of all of this is while the appointment appears
political, the office of federal prosecutor tends to be of
non-partisan decision making.
The U.S. Attorney of Western Washington, like their fellow
federal prosecutors around the country, commands much authority.
They can pull citizens out of local courts and try them in federal
courts, where sentences can be vastly higher. Federal courts tend
to be, in my view, the “set-an-example-to-the-public” court.
Here’s a good example.
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