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Former U.S. attorneys discuss forced resignations


January 28, 2010

Five of seven U.S. Attorneys asked to resign on Dec. 7, 2006, by senior officials at the U.S. Department of Justice, reflected on their experiences and the importance of maintaining the integrity of a prosecutorial role, at a panel discussion on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.

View the video here.

Panelists included:

Paul Charlton, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, and now a Shareholder with the Phoenix law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy;

Bud Cummins, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, now a consultant;

David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, now a prosecutor for the Office of Military Commission in Washington, D.C.;

Carol Lam, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, now Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Qualcomm Inc. in San Diego; and

John McKay, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, now a Professor from Practice at the Seattle University School of Law.

When the unprecedented midterm dismissals by the George W. Bush administration became public, members of Congress began to raise concerns about the reasons for the removals, including whether they were intended to influence certain prosecutions.

At the time, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated that the U.S. Attorneys "serve at the pleasure of the president" and described the affair as "an overblown personnel matter." But the incident eventually led to the resignations of nine of the highest-level officers at the Department of Justice, including Gonzales.

A subsequent report by the Justice Department Inspector General in October 2008 found that the process used to fire the first seven attorneys and two others dismissed around the same time was "arbitrary," "fundamentally flawed," and "raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecution decisions."

Judy Nichols, Judith.Nichols@asu.edu
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law