Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that he has named a new head of the Justice Department's internal watchdog organization, the Office of Professional Responsibility.
The move comes a day after a stinging rebuke from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who appointed a special prosecutor to look into lapses in the Department of Justice, citing serious problems with witnesses and evidence in the trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican.
Although Stevens was convicted, the department's failure to turn over key evidence that might have helped Stevens led Holder to drop the charges rather than challenge Stevens' appeals.
Mary Patrice Brown, who has worked in the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia since 1989, will now serve as acting head of the Office of Professional Responsibility, which is responsible for investigating allegations of professional misconduct involving Justice Department attorneys.
Mary Pat has a stellar reputation and the highest integrity, Holder said in a written statement. I have had the privilege of working alongside of Mary Pat in the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia and she can always be counted on to do what's right. I trust her sense of fairness and judgment implicitly.
Brown added, I am honored that Attorney General Holder would grant me the opportunity to use my years of experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and supervisor to provide guidance and leadership to my colleagues in the Department and in the field as we work together to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct.
Brown, who from 2002 to 2004 was the deputy chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section overseeing allegations of criminal misconduct by police officers, public officials, and attorneys, replaces H. Marshall Jarrett, the former Counsel for Professional Responsibility at DoJ, who Holder has tapped to lead the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.
In his new post, Jarrett will act as a liaison between the department and the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Marianas Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Holder said that the shift should not reflect a negative assessment of Jarrett's performance at the Office of Professional Responsibility.
I have had the privilege of working with Marshall over the years and I have the highest regard for his experience, talents and capabilities, said Holder. He has been a tremendous leader in OPR, and I believe that his more than 30 years of career prosecutorial and legal experience, his leadership skills and the respect he receives from his colleagues, make him the ideal individual to oversee the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices at this time.
Jarrett said he was honored by the appointment.
I am looking forward to this exciting challenge with the opportunity to build and work with the U.S. Attorney team, offer my unique perspective from working in various positions within the Department, and providing legal advice to the 94 offices, he said.
Jarrett's move in turn has him replacing Kenneth Melson, who Holder has chosen to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The ATF, an agency dedicated to preventing terrorism, reducing violent crime and enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries, is expected to play an increasingly important role in the government's efforts to help combat drug crime in Mexico by working to halt the flow of drug money and weapons to drug cartels.
Ken's more than 25 years of career federal prosecutor service and his knowledge in forensic science will make him a valuable asset to ATF, Holder said. I am pleased that he will provide his talents to such an important Department of Justice agency.
Melson added, As the head of ATF, I am looking forward to using my management and prosecutorial experience, as well as my knowledge of crime labs and forensic science to combat violent crime.
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