Wednesday, October 07, 2009

US Attorney and US Marshal recommendations

A press release from Cong. Lloyd Doggett today revealed the recommendations from the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation for the Obama administration's selection of the US Attorneys and US Marshals for the four Texas federal districts.

While the entire list is noteworthy for its diversity and depth of experience, I'll focus on the two nominees -- both for the Eastern district -- with which I have a passing familiarity: Jefferson County criminal district court Judge John B. Stevens, Jr. for US Attorney and Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods for US Marshal.

First, a little about Judge Stevens, from an announcement in 2006 in conjunction with our shared alma mater, Lamar University:

John B. Stevens Jr., a Beaumont lawyer and Lamar alumnus, has presented Lamar University with first editions of “The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar” and other rare documents chronicling the man regarded as the father of Texas education. ...

“These documents chronicle Texas history at a time when its leadership was just made up of dreams and hopes,” said Stevens. “They had little or no money. They just had a love of freedom to inspire the people to follow them and pledge their lives and their sacred honor. And what has come of that? A great nation, then a great state and a great educational institution.”

“Anything related to Texas history is directly related to Mirabeau Lamar,” Stevens said in an earlier interview. “I don’t believe any of our Texas forefathers compiled such an extensive set of manuscripts chronicling Texas’ road to independence. Many owe much to Mirbeau B. Lamar, and he is often taken for granted.”

At the conclusion of his presentation, Stevens announced a surprise gift: A signed and numbered edition of Philip Graham’s “The Life and Poems of Mirabeau B. Lamar,” published in 1938 and which he described as the pre-eminent work that is not only the greatest chronicle of Lamar’s poems, but also one of the best biographies of Lamar.

“The first 1,000 of this issue of the book were numbered, and Lamar University already has No. 441,” Stevens said. “The first 300 were numbered and signed. You do not have a numbered and signed one – until today. It is my great honor to present No. 219.” ...

Stevens graduated from Lamar in 1974 with a degree in government and history. He went on to post-baccalaureate studies at the University of Texas and to receive a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center in 1979. He earned a master of social sciences from Syracuse University in 2001.

He began his legal career in the Jefferson County district attorney’s office, where he served as an assistant district attorney from 1979-81. Stevens spent four years in private practice, then began a 20 year career as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas.

He resigned from that post to become a candidate for judge of Jefferson County Criminal District Court. After receiving the Democratic nomination for the post, he is unopposed on the Nov. 7 (2006) ballot.

Sheriff Woods:

Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods is a step closer to becoming the next U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Texas. The U.S. Marshal Services is a federal law enforcement agency that protects the federal courts and its personnel. It is the oldest law enforcement agency in the United States. He applied for the job in July and recently his name was submitted for it. Sheriff Woods tells FRONT ROW that the next step is to pass an FBI background check and receive Senate confirmation. Woods has been sheriff since 1996.

The position is appointed by the President of the United States. There are 94 U.S. Marshals, one in each federal judicial district. If Woods gets the job, he'll remain in Beaumont. The office is housed at the federal court building.

The state's senators usually have a say in these appointments, but since Texas has no Democratic representation in that body, the Congressional delegation took on the task of initial vetting and selection of these recommendations.

Congratulations to all of the esteemed officials on that list, and let's look forward to speedy confirmation by the US Senate.

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