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Polite gets Obama nomination for U.S. attorney

1st July 2013   ·   0 Comments

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated New Orleans native Kenneth Polite Jr. to serve as U.S. attorney for the New Orleans-based Eastern District of Louisiana.

“Kenneth Polite’s legal career has been distinguished and impressive,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. “I am confident that, as a U.S. Attorney, he will be relentless in his pursuit of justice and serve the people of Louisiana with distinction.”

Polite, a De La Salle High School grad and product of the Lower Ninth Ward, was recommended for the post in February by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

“With Mr. Polite’s outstanding legal experience, impressive academic record and strong dedication to our region, it is no surprise that the President has nominated him to be the next U.S. Attorney for Louisiana’s Eastern District,” Landrieu said in a statement Thursday. “During the interview process, Mr. Polite stood out from an impressive list of candidates, showing the determination and experience we need to protect the people of the Eastern District from crime and corruption. This is the kind of leadership our region needs to continue to thrive, grow and lead the nation in entrepreneurship. Mr. Polite has the strong backing of our local community, and I will be pushing for his swift confirmation by the Senate so he can get to work for the people of the Eastern District.”

Should the Senate confirm him, as expected, Polite will replace Jim Letten, who was the nation’s longest-serving U.S. attorney. Letten resigned in December after two of his top prosecutors, Sal Perricone and Jan Mann, admitted to their involvement in a nola.com online posting scandal in which they commented on a number of active cases involving the U.S. Depart­ment of Justice.

“Ken is a bright young guy and I wish him all the best in this very challenging time for that office,” U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Thursday in a statement. “I remain conceded that that office needs a more seasoned leader and supervisor to immediately stabilize it after the scandals, and that Ken’s focus on street crime will unintentionally take focus away from battling political corruption.

“I hope his service proves otherwise,” Vitter added.

Sen. Vitter and civic groups, including the Business Council and the Metropolitan Crime Commis­sion, strongly recommended several Democrats, including Brian Jackson and Pauline Hardin.

Nevertheless, Vitter said he would sign Polite’s “blue slip” to move his nomination forward.

“I fully support today’s recommendation and I am confident that, if nominated and confirmed, Kenneth is up to the task before him as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana,” U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., said Thursday in a statement. “Kenneth is a bright young man who has been educated at some of the country’s top educational institutions. In addition to his stellar academic preparation, he also has enjoyed a very productive legal career, including a stint as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York—one of the most intense assignments in the country. In the midst of his academic and professional successes he has remained committed to the community he was born and raised in, the city of New Orleans. For some time, I have stressed the importance of finding someone who can restore integrity to the U.S. Attorney’s Office so that it can again gain the public’s trust. In Kenneth I think we have found that person.

“Kenneth represents the best of a new generation of leaders poised to lead our region and state forward,” Richmond added. “If confirmed, he would become U.S. Attorney close to the same age (that) our state’s chief executive assumed his current role.”

Polite is a shareholder at the law firm of Liskow & Lewis and currently heads the firm’s White Collar Crime Defense Group. Previously, Polite served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 2007 to 2010, and as an Associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP from 2002 to 2006. He served as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 2001 to 2002. Polite received his J.D. in 2000 from Georgetown University Law Center and his A.B. in 1997 from Harvard University.

“I’m honored to be nominated by President Obama for the position of U.S Attorney for Louisiana’s Eastern District,” Polite said in a statement Thursday. “I appreciate Sen. Landrieu’s support and look forward to the confirmation process. If confirmed by the Senate, I will serve without reserva­tion.”

This article originally published in the July 1, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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