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Polite gets Landrieu’s nod for U.S. Attorney

11th February 2013   ·   0 Comments

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is recommending N.O. native Kenneth Polite Jr. for the position of U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Landrieu said in a news release that President Barack Obama will consider the suggestion and make the appointment.

“In no other place in America have people demonstrated a greater strength, resiliency and drive to remake their lives than those living here in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes,” Sen. Landrieu said Friday. “For the region to continue to build and thrive, it is imperative that we have a strong and proven crime fighter to protect the citizens of the Eastern District and root out corruption where it exists so that New Orleans remains the entrepreneurial capital of the nation.

The position became open when long-serving U.S. Attorney Jim Letten resigned in December after two top deputies became embroiled in an online posting scandal that threatens to undermine some of his biggest cases and damaged his standing as one of the most popular public officials in a city with a rich history of graft.

The former Lower Ninth Ward resident currently serves as an attorney with Liskow and Lewis, where he practices in the areas of business litigation, appellate advocacy, government investigations and white-collar criminal defense.

Prior to joining Liskow, Mr. Polite served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he served as lead counsel in numerous investigations and prosecutions of federal criminal offenses, including bribery, extortion, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and identity theft.

In addition to several jury trial convictions in the areas of public corruption and organized crime, Ken Polite’s experience as a federal prosecutor includes successfully briefing and arguing several cases before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, the De La Salle High School grad practiced for six years in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. A graduate of Harvard University, and cum laude graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Polite clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Sen. Landrieu had been sharply criticized by some of the city’s Black leaders for recommending that Letten remain serving as U.S. Attorney after President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Black leaders accused Letten of unfairly targeting Black elected officials during the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s sweeping probes of public graft. Letten has also been accused of failing to use all of the resources at his disposal to indict, prosecute and convict the former NOPD officers involved in a number of high-profile, post-Katrina killings.

“If Sen. Landrieu thinks she is going to appease Black people by recommending Mr. Polite for this post, she better think again,” the Rev. Raymond Brown, a community activist and president of National Action Now, told The Louisiana Weekly. “That’s a calculated, self-serving move that is highly insulting to Black people who are well aware of the many ways Sen. Mary Landrieu has failed to address the needs and concerns of Black New Orleans residents over the past few years.

“From everything I’ve heard and read so far, Mr. Polite sounds like a stand-up guy but I’m hesitant to support him as a possible replacement because he was recommended by Sen. Landrieu,” said Brown.

Ironically, Sen. Landrieu is ex?pected to face stiff competition from former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

“This is strictly a political move,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a New Orleans businessman and former congressional candidate, told The Louisiana Weekly. “

*Additional reporting by Louisiana weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.

This article was originally published in the February 11, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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