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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Eileen Decker Said to Top List| for Next U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Eileen Decker, a former federal prosecutor and Homeland Security official, has emerged as favorite in the secretive process of selecting a new U.S. attorney in the Central District of California, according to those knowledgeable with the nominating process.

U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) makes recommendations from the Central District in California to the White House through a bipartisan advisory committee.

As head of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Feinstein would likely be familiar with Decker's public safety and security credentials.

Decker was Chief of the National Security Section in the U.S. Attorney Office in downtown L.A. She was later Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

Decker is currently Mayor Eric M. Garcetti's Deputy Mayor for Public Safety.

"She has an excellent reputation," said Laurie L. Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School. "She was among the top candidates because she has the experience in the U.S. Attorney's office, being a federal prosecutor. Second of all, I think she's someone who knows the job and is recognized by people in the community."

The process of recommending nominees to President Barack Obama for U.S. attorneys is shrouded in secrecy.

Nominees are warned not to disclose any details until the White House makes a formal announcement. The committee that vets nominees does not talk publicly about potential nominees, according to a source, who asked not to be named.

Levenson preferred to describe the nominating process as being undertaken "discretely" to "encourage the best people."

"It's kind of unseemly for it to be seen as a type of horse race," Levenson said. "I don't think it is. All the people that make it to the final position are very well qualified for the job. I think it's the best job you can get."

In 2008, Feinstein appointed San Diego lawyer David S. Casey as statewide chair for each of the four federal districts in the state. He declined to comment for this article.

In the Central District, U.S. District Judge Holly Fujie chairs a committee rounded out by five other members.

Feinstein is thought to personally interview attorneys on the shortlist before forwarding two or three names to the President.

"It's certainly Senator's Feinstein's preference that she has people she trusts do the initial review and then she makes the final call," Levenson told Courthouse News in a telephone interview, adding that Feinstein does "a full screening to encourage the best people."

O'Melveny & Myers attorney Carolyn Kubota is another rumored pick.

Levenson said she wouldn't be surprised if Kubota's name had reached President Obama's desk.

The professor said she had hired Kubota when she worked at the U.S. Attorney's office. She called the attorney a "really special person."

"She's just a phenomenal lawyer and human being," Levenson said.

The U.S. Senate's Judiciary committee has to approve the President's nomination before the full U.S. Senate either gives the nominee the thumbs up or down.

If selected, Decker will replace the position left vacant by André Birotte Jr. who was confirmed as a federal judge earlier this year.

Stephanie Yonekura is the current Acting U.S. Attorney in the city.

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