17 June 2007

W.Va. Resurfaces in U.S. Atty Firings Story

This time because its southern federal district is among nearly two dozen where temporary U.S. attorneys face time in office "now limited under a law signed last week by President Bush," The Washington Post reports today.

As has been reported earlier, Kasey Warner was fired as the district's U.S. attorney in August 2005. Warner has questioned whether politics played a role in his ouster. U.S. Justice Department officials have countered by offering to explain why he was canned -- if Warner waives confidentiality (which he apparently has yet to do).

Chuck Miller was tapped to replace Warner, though not by the president. A career prosecutor in the office with a stellar reputation, was named U.S. attorney most recently by a federal judge in the district.

Though that step by the district court may suffice in Miller's case, "The Justice Department has signaled that it might seek to extend the terms of those U.S. attorneys appointed under a legal provision known as the Vacancies Act by reappointing them under another provision that would give them an additional four months on the job," the article also said.

"The developments add to growing personnel problems at the Justice Department in the wake of last year's firings of nine U.S. attorneys," the Post reports. "A quarter of all federal prosecutors are now on the job on an interim or acting basis -- reflecting a vacancy rate that is much higher than normal, according to department statistics."

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