The search for Massachusetts’ next top federal attorney begins in earnest.
Upcoming President Joe Biden will appoint the next U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, but a local advisory board is expected to begin reviewing the applications as early as next week. The committee was established by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, who will ultimately recommend who the next president should appoint to replace current US attorney Andrew Lelling.
The advisory council chairwoman, retired federal judge Nancy Gertner, said the panel would be keen to speak to candidates about the power exercised by prosecutors and whether changes might be needed, though that will largely depend on the next attorney general.
“It’s not an ordinary time,” she said. “We have had demonstrations about the George Floyd killing and more attention to the mass incarceration, and the criminal justice system will not have the resources because of the pandemic. I think all of this leads to a moment of reform and the next US lawyer … should move that. “
Other members of the committee include Elissa Flynn-Poppey, former assistant legal advisor to Governor Mitt Romney and executive director of the Massachusetts Governor’s Board of Directors; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean of the Boston University School of Law; Walter Prince, partner at Prince Lobel and past president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association; Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; Jennifer Levi, professor of law at Western New England University School of Law and director of the Transgender Rights Project for Gay and Lesbian Lawyers and Defense Lawyers (GLAD); and John Pucci, partner and litigator at Buckley Richardson.
“The Advisory Committee plays an important role in ensuring that a highly qualified, fair, and fair candidate is appointed to the Massachusetts District Attorney,” Warren and Markey said in a statement. “We look forward to the committee’s recommendations.”
A prominent Massachusetts prosecutor has publicly stated that she is interested in the position. Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins says she is humbled that her name was mentioned as a possible replacement for Lelling. Rollins served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office before becoming a prosecutor, and her law firm currently works closely with Lelling’s.
“She is confident that the Democratic presidential candidate for the position of US attorney is well versed in every department and unit of the office, is culturally competent and is aware of the enormous power that the office has, especially over defendants and litigants in need.” Rollins’ office said in a statement.
Lelling was named a U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts in 2017 after serving as senior litigator in the office for 12 years. During his tenure, he followed the college admission bribery scandal, brought charges against court judge Shelley Joseph after she reportedly helped a person evade ICE agents in Newton District Court, and published a report in which The Massachusetts Department of Justice was found to have violated the prisoners’ constitutional rights by providing inadequate mental health care.
Monday, December 28th, is the deadline for submitting proposals to the Advisory Board. The panel will screen applicants with the aim of starting interviews in early January. Gertner assumes that the advisory board will make a recommendation to the senators by mid-January. They will conduct their own interviews and make a recommendation to the White House.