Black lawyer’s nomination to be 3rd in command at DOJ could be delayed

Associate Attorney General-Designate Tony West

The nomination of black lawyer Derek Anthony “Tony” West to be the new Associate Attorney General of the United States could be delayed, that’s the word from a key United States Senator.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice, Senator Chuck Grassley the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary said more needed to be known about Mr. West’s involvement in a notable case.

Grassley wants the Department of Justice to produce documents outlining a deal between the federal government and the city of St. Paul, Minnesota where the DOJ agreed to drop two False Claims Act cases, if the city dropped a pending appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.

West’s involvement would have presumably been because he was the Assistant Attorney General overseeing the department’s Civil Division which represents the U.S. government, government agencies, Cabinet officials, and members of Congress, and also cases which are large in size and scope. The department’s roster makes it the largest litigating section of DOJ. West was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division in April of 2009.

He was promoted to Acting Associate Attorney General upon the resignation of Thomas Perrelli in March 2012, though President Obama formally nominated him to fill the role on September 19, 2012.

West has a diverse legal background having been a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco prior to serving at DOJ the second time around. He began his career as a Special Assistant to the Deputy U.S. Attorney General. Later he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, and at the state level a Special Assistant Attorney General.

In order to be confirmed by the Senate, he would need to have a successful hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which could be held up if Sen. Grassley isn’t satisfied with what he learns about DOJ’s dealing with the city of St. Paul.

West’s entire family is made up of lawyers. His wife Maya Harris who he met when the pair was at Stanford Law School is a former law school dean and a Vice President at the Ford Foundation. Their daughter Meena a 2012 graduate of Harvard Law School recently passed the California Bar exam. West’s sister-in-law is California Attorney General Kamala Harris.


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