Obama still without state nominees for key law posts

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

North and south Mississippi still lack key Obama administration appointments, and it’s hard to know what’s going on with them.
White House spokesman Hannah August declined to comment on the issue this week after a U.S. Department of Justice official passed along Daily Journal questions about the status of the process.
Both Mississippi districts are without official nominees for U.S. attorney, and north Mississippi lacks one for U.S. marshal.
“President Obama has yet to nominate anyone” for the northern Mississippi posts, said Tara DiJulio, communications director for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo.
“We have not received a list of names and do not have any indication when the administration plans on announcing its nominees,” she said.
Chris Gallegos from U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s office agreed.
Traditionally, after a change in the White House, the new president nominates a U.S. attorney and a marshal for each U.S. District Court region.
Those nominees are investigated by the Department of Justice and then voted upon by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.
Of the 93 U.S. attorney posts, the U.S. Senate has confirmed just more than 50, with another half-dozen others under consideration.
But in Mississippi, the names are still below the radar.
Often, a state’s senators play a key role in suggesting nominees, but in Mississippi’s case, it hasn’t worked that way because the senators are Republicans and Obama is a Democrat. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, is believed to have been a major force in the process, but his office isn’t responding to Daily Journal questions, either.
The U.S. attorney is the government’s top lawyer in that district and, generally, manages a team of lawyers who prosecute criminal and some civil cases on behalf of the government. The U.S. marshal is the government’s top law enforcement official and oversees a team to assist with court security and prisoner transport, serve arrest warrants and seek fugitives.
It’s been more than two years since Obama’s election, and numerous names have been mentioned for the posts. Meanwhile, the districts have interim U.S. attorneys from the top administrative staff in each office.
Jackson attorney Gregory K. Davis is believed to be under consideration for the southern U.S. attorney job, although Natchez attorney Deborah McDonald was an early name.
In north Mississippi, state Sen. Gray Tollison of Oxford is the latest name on the list, although this week he referred all questions to the Justice Department.
Oxford attorney Christi R. McCoy was recommended by Thompson, but what’s happened with her selection is unclear, as well as with another possibility, Felicia Adams of Jackson, an assistant U.S. attorney there.
Washington, D.C., publication Main Justice lists Adams as “was considered” while it describes Davis as “being considered.”
In April, the Senate confirmed George White as U.S. marshal in the Southern District, but no names are publicly discussed for the Northern District. Scott Sanders is interim marshal in the north.
In September, Rich Rossman, president of the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys, told Main Justice that the pace of appointments “is very discouraging,” as well as the speed the Senate is moving with confirmations.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.