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United States Attorney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Attorney
Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Law practice, law enforcement, politics
CompetenciesAdvocacy skills, analytical mind, sense of justice, political fit
Education required
Law degree, bar exam
Fields of
Government legal service
Related jobs
Prosecutor, district attorney, state's attorney, commonwealth's attorney

Flag of a United States attorney.
Flag of a United States attorney.

United States attorneys are officials of the U.S. Department of Justice who serve as the chief federal law enforcement officers in each of the 94 U.S. federal judicial districts. Each U.S. attorney serves as the United States' chief federal criminal prosecutor in their judicial district and represents the U.S. federal government in civil litigation in federal and state court within their geographic jurisdiction. U.S. attorneys must be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, after which they serve four-year terms.

Currently, there are 93 U.S. attorneys in 94 district offices located throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. One U.S. attorney is assigned to each of the judicial districts, with the exception of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, where a single U.S. attorney serves both districts. Each U.S. attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer within a specified jurisdiction, acting under the guidance of the United States Attorneys' Manual.[1] They supervise district offices with as many as 350 assistant U.S. attorneys (AUSAs) and as many as 350 support personnel.[2]

U.S. Attorney's Offices are staffed mainly by assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA). Often colloquially called "federal prosecutors", assistant U.S. attorneys are government lawyers who act as prosecutors in federal criminal trials and as the United States federal government's lawyers in civil litigation in which the United States is a party. In carrying out their duties as prosecutors, AUSAs have the authority to investigate persons, issue subpoenas, file formal criminal charges, plea bargain with defendants, and grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals.[3]

U.S. attorneys and their offices are part of the Department of Justice. U.S. attorneys receive oversight, supervision, and administrative support services through the Justice Department's Executive Office for United States Attorneys. Selected U.S. attorneys participate in the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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History and statutory authority

The Office of the United States Attorney was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, along with the office of Attorney General and United States Marshal. The same act also specified the structure of the Supreme Court of the United States and established inferior courts making up the United States Federal Judiciary, including a district court system. Thus, the office of U.S. Attorney is older than the Department of Justice. The Judiciary Act of 1789 provided for the appointment in each judicial district of a "Person learned in the law to act as attorney for the United States...whose duty it shall be to prosecute in each district all delinquents for crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States, and all civil actions in which the United States shall be concerned..." Prior to the existence of the Department of Justice, the U.S. attorneys were independent of the Attorney General, and did not come under the AG's supervision and authority until 1870, with the creation of the Department of Justice.[4][5]


U.S. attorneys are appointed by the President of the United States[6] for a term of four years,[7] with appointments subject to confirmation by the Senate. A U.S. attorney continues in office, beyond the appointed term, until a successor is appointed and qualified.[8] By law, each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President.[9] The Attorney General has had the authority since 1986 to appoint interim U.S. attorneys to fill a vacancy.

United States attorneys controversy

Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

The governing statute, 28 U.S.C. § 546 provided, up until March 9, 2006:

(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the earlier of—

(1) the qualification of a United States attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title; or
(2) the expiration of 120 days after appointment by the Attorney General under this section.

(d) If an appointment expires under subsection (c)(2), the district court for such district may appoint a United States attorney to serve until the vacancy is filled. The order of appointment by the court shall be filed with the clerk of the court.

On March 9, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005[10] which amended Section 546 by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:

(c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title.

This, in effect, extinguished the 120-day limit on interim U.S. attorneys, and their appointment had an indefinite term. If the president failed to put forward any nominee to the Senate, then the Senate confirmation process was avoided, as the Attorney General-appointed interim U.S. attorney could continue in office without limit or further action. Related to the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy, in March 2007 the Senate and the House voted to re-instated the 120-day term limit on interim attorneys. The bill was signed by President George W. Bush, and became law in June 2007.[11]

History of interim U.S. attorney appointments

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, California), summarized the history of interim United States Attorney appointments, on March 19, 2007 in the Senate.[12]

When first looking into this issue, I found that the statutes had given the courts the authority to appoint an interim U.S. attorney and that this dated back as far as the Civil War. Specifically, the authority was first vested with the circuit courts in March 1863.

Then, in 1898, a House of Representatives report explained that while Congress believed it was important to have the courts appoint an interim U.S. attorney:

"There was a problem relying on circuit courts since the circuit justice is not always to be found in the circuit and time is wasted in ascertaining his whereabouts."

Therefore, at that time, the interim appointment authority was switched to the district courts; that is, in 1898 it was switched to the district courts.

Thus, for almost 100 years, the district courts were in charge of appointing interim U.S. attorneys, and they did so with virtually no problems. This structure was left undisturbed until 1986 when the statute was changed during the Reagan administration. In a bill that was introduced by Senator Strom Thurmond, the statute was changed to give the appointment authority to the Attorney General, but even then it was restricted and the Attorney General had a 120-day time limit. After that time, if a nominee was not confirmed, the district courts would appoint an interim U.S. attorney. The adoption of this language was part of a larger package that was billed as technical amendments to criminal law, and thus there was no recorded debate in either the House or the Senate and both Chambers passed the bill by voice vote.

Then, 20 years later, in March 2006 – again without much debate and again as a part of a larger package – a statutory change was inserted into the PATRIOT Act reauthorization. This time, the Executive's power was expanded even further, giving the Attorney General the authority to appoint an interim replacement indefinitely and without Senate confirmation.

Role of U.S. attorneys

The U.S. attorney is both the primary representative and the administrative head of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the district. The U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) is the chief prosecutor for the United States in criminal law cases, and represents the United States in civil law cases as either the defendant or plaintiff, as appropriate.[13][14] However, they are not the only ones that may represent the United States in Court. In certain circumstances, using an action called a qui tam, any U.S. citizen, provided they are represented by an attorney, can represent the interests of the United States, and share in penalties assessed against guilty parties.

As chief federal law enforcement officers, U.S. attorneys have authority over all federal law enforcement personnel within their districts and may direct them to engage, cease or assist in investigations.[citation needed] In practice, this has involved command of Federal Bureau of Investigation assets but also includes other agencies under the Department of Justice, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Drug Enforcement Administration.[citation needed] Additionally, U.S. attorneys cooperate with other non-DOJ law enforcement agencies – such as the United States Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – to prosecute cases relevant to their jurisdictional areas.

The U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia has the additional responsibility of prosecuting local criminal cases in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the equivalent of a municipal court for the national capital. The Superior Court is a federal Article I court.[15]

Executive Office for United States Attorneys

The Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA)[16] provides the administrative support for the 93 United States attorneys (encompassing 94 United States Attorney offices, as the Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands has a single U.S. attorney for both districts), including:

  • General executive assistance and direction,
  • Policy development,
  • Administrative management direction and oversight,
  • Operational support,
  • Coordination with other components of the United States Department of Justice and other federal agencies.

These responsibilities include certain legal, budgetary, administrative, and personnel services, as well as legal education.

The EOUSA was created on April 6, 1953, by Attorney General Order No. 8-53 to provide for close liaison between the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and the 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was organized by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge James R. Browning, who also served as its first chief.

List of current U.S. attorneys' offices

Map of the boundaries of the United States courts of appeals (by color) and United States District Courts.  All District Courts lie within the boundary of a single jurisdiction, usually in a state (heavier lines); some states have more than one District Court (lighter lines denote those jurisdictions)
Map of the boundaries of the United States courts of appeals (by color) and United States District Courts. All District Courts lie within the boundary of a single jurisdiction, usually in a state (heavier lines); some states have more than one District Court (lighter lines denote those jurisdictions)
  1. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama
  2. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama
  3. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama
  4. U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska
  5. U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona
  6. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas
  7. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas
  8. U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California
  9. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California
  10. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (USAO)
  11. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California
  12. U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado
  13. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
  14. U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut
  15. U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware
  16. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida (USAO)
  17. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida
  18. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida (USAO)
  19. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia
  20. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia
  21. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia
  22. U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (USAO)
  23. U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii (USAO)
  24. U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho
  25. U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois
  26. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
  27. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois
  28. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana (USAO)
  29. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana
  30. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa
  31. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa (USAO)
  32. U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas
  33. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  34. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky
  35. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana
  36. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana
  37. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana
  38. U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine
  39. U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland (USAO)
  40. U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts
  41. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan
  42. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan
  43. U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota
  44. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi
  45. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi
  46. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri
  47. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri
  48. U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana
  49. U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska
  50. U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada
  51. U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire
  52. U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (USAO)
  53. U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico
  54. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (USAO)
  55. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York (USAO)
  56. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (USAO)
  57. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York (USAO)
  58. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  59. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina
  60. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina
  61. U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota
  62. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio
  63. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio
  64. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
  65. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma
  66. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma (USAO)
  67. U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon
  68. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  69. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  70. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  71. U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico
  72. U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island
  73. U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina
  74. U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota (USAO)
  75. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  76. U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee
  77. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee
  78. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas
  79. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas
  80. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas
  81. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas
  82. U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah
  83. U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont
  84. U.S. Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands
  85. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
  86. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia
  87. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington
  88. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington
  89. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia
  90. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia
  91. U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  92. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin
  93. U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming

Note: Except as indicated parenthetically, the foregoing links are to the corresponding district court, rather than to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Defunct U.S. attorneys' offices

See also



  1. ^ "US Attorneys' Manual". February 19, 2015.
  2. ^ "United States Attorney Office for the District of Columbia". Retrieved November 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Standards on Prosecutorial Investigations
  4. ^ Sisk, Gregory C. (2006). John Steadman; David Schwartz; Sidney B. Jacoby (eds.). Litigation With the Federal Government (2nd ed.). ALI-ABA (American Law Institute – American Bar Association). pp. 12–14. ISBN 0-8318-0865-9.
  5. ^ Sisk, Gregory C. (2006). Partial access online. ISBN 9780831808655.
  6. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 541(a).
  7. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 541(b).
  8. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 541(b)
  9. ^ 28 U.S.C. § 541(c).
  10. ^ "Pub. L. 109–177, title V, § 502" (PDF). U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  11. ^ "House votes to strip U.S. Attorney provision". Think Progress. March 26, 2007.
  12. ^ Congressional Record, March 19, 2007, 2007 Congressional Record, Vol. 153, Page S3240 -S3241)
  13. ^ see generally 28 U.S.C. § 547
  14. ^ "US Attorneys' Manual. Title 1, section 1-2.500".
  15. ^[bare URL]
  16. ^ "Justice Manual, Title 3". February 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 November 2022, at 01:17
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