Saturday, April 2, 2005
Alice Fisher, a partner at Latham & Watkins and former Deputy AAG to Michael Chertoff when he led the Criminal Division, will be nominated as the new head of the Division. Chertoff is now Secretary of Homeland Security, and Fisher has been working for him since 1996 in different positions. According to her law firm biography (here):
Ms. Fisher served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Department of Justice from July 2001-2003. While at the Department of Justice, Ms. Fisher was responsible for managing both the Counter-Terrorism Section and the Fraud Section - two of the Department of Justice’s top priorities during her tenure.
Specifically, Ms. Fisher was responsible for national coordination in the terrorism area, including all matters relating to September 11 investigations and prosecutions, investigation and prosecution of international and domestic terrorist groups and terrorist acts, terrorist financing investigations, USA Patriot Act implementation and all other terrorism policy issues. She supervised a number of terrorist-related prosecutions and coordinated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Council and the White House on terrorism threat, litigation, and policy issues.
Although she has experience at senior management levels and on the defense side in white collar cases, Fisher has never served in a prosecutor's office (state or federal) dealing with cases on a day-to-day basis. There may be some grumblings from the field offices about her lack of experience in that area (see article available on Law.Com), but it should not be a major impediment if she surrounds herself with some experienced prosecutors who know the operation of U.S. Attorney's Offices and can manage (or massage) the egos. The head of the Criminal Division does not need to get involved in the minutiae of particular cases.
I don't know my DOJ history as well as I should, and I wonder whether she will be the first woman to lead the Criminal Division. (ph)
UPDATE (4/2): Thanks to Dan Richman (Fordham) for pointing out that Jo Ann Harris was the AAG for the Criminal Division in 1993-95. To show where my memory is these days, I worked in the Criminal Division for about 9 months when she was AAG. Oh well.