Mary Patrice Brown, the career prosecutor who took over the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility following the botched prosecution of Ted Stevens last year, is leaving her post next month, a department official said Monday.
Brown is taking a front-office position in the Criminal Division, working for Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. A replacement for Brown in the Office of Professional Responsibility was not immediately announced. Brown had been the acting head of OPR since April 2009.
Brown will become a deputy assistant attorney general, filling a vacancy created with the retirement last month of career prosecutor John Keeney. Brown is expected to continue Keeney’s role, which included oversight of the division’s Public Integrity Section and the Office of Enforcement Operations.
The planned move, announced Monday, creates an opening at OPR, which had been under the leadership of H. Marshall Jarrett for more than a decade. Brown was the third chief of the office since its inception in 1975. At the time of her appointment, she was the chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. (Jarrett is the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.)
Brown (at left) has held numerous supervisory positions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office during her more than 20 years with the Justice Department.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. named Brown the head of OPR during a difficult time for the division. In a statement last year, Holder lauded Brown's fairness and judgment.
Judge Emmet Sullivan criticized OPR for what he called the “deafening silence” regarding the status of a misconduct investigation involving the trial attorneys who prosecuted Stevens on public corruption charges. OPR has a pending investigation of the Stevens trial attorneys.
Breuer praised Brown last night in an interview, saying she has an “extraordinary blend of experience, judgment, charm and commitment to serve.” Filling Keeney’s shoes, Breuer said, was one of his “greatest obligations.” Brown, he said, fits the bill.
A former Brown colleague, Anthony Alexis, who regularly consulted her during their years together in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Brown “is without doubt one of the most grounded people in ethics and in understanding the unique role the Department of Justice occupies.”
“Not only was her experience level good, she always did it the right way,” said Alexis, a Mayer Brown partner in Washington who practices in complex commercial litigation and white-collar defense. “She did things properly.”