H. Marshall Jarrett, the longtime chief lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, is being reassigned to head the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced today.
The move comes one day after a federal judge questioned the “deafening" silence at OPR regarding the status of an investigation of allegations of misconduct in the case of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. Holder has appointed Mary Patrice Brown, criminal chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, as acting head of the office.
Brown, a well-regarded career prosecutor, is the office’s third chief since its creation in 1975. She held numerous high-level positions in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, including executive assistant U.S. attorney for operations, deputy chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, and deputy chief of the Appellate Division. She and Holder worked closely together when he was the District's U.S. attorney. (For a little more on Brown, click here for our Q&A with her a couple years ago.)
“Mary Pat has a stellar reputation and the highest integrity,” said Holder in a statement. “I trust her sense of fairness and judgment implicitly.”
The shuffle follows criticisms from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan that OPR was dragging its feet in the Stevens investigation, which began in October. Sullivan dismissed the case yesterday, on a motion by the government, and appointed an outside lawyer to investigate the prosecutors' conduct.
Jarrett, who led OPR for decade, will oversee the 94 U.S. attorneys offices in his new position. Before his job at OPR, Jarrett was an associate deputy attorney general, and like Brown, he served as the criminal chief in U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. He and Holder first worked together in the department's Public Integrity Section in the 1980s.
“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. The attorney general said Jarrett had been "a tremendous leader in OPR."
Justice Department officials were quick to dismiss a link between Jarrett’s reassignment and Sullivan’s remarks.
“It had nothing at all to do with it,” said spokesman Matt Miller. “This was planned before yesterday and is a reflection of the confidence the attorney general has in all three of the individuals.
Holder also announced today the appointment of Kenneth Melson to serve as acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Melson had been the director of the EOUSA since 2007. He has also served as acting and interim U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he began his career as a federal prosecutor.