Kitsap Crime and Justice

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Obama Picks Prominent Democrat, Gregoire Confidant for Federal Prosecutor

May 18th, 2009 by josh farley

President Obama 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 pretty good.

Seattle Times reporter David Postman wrote in 2005 that Durkan is a “friend, confidante and political counselor,” to our current governor. Here’s 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 and 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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2 Responses to “Obama Picks Prominent Democrat, Gregoire Confidant for Federal Prosecutor”

  1. biznews Says:

    Of course it was political…

    Jenny Durken was the lawyer that represented the Democratic Party in the Rossi lawsuit where the Judge decided not to overturn the election results.

  2. Tom Rosendale Says:

    Nothing like making a non-partisan position a partisan one, especially in the justice system. Same goes for judges. We get what we deserve when we elect party representatives instead of people representatives.

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