Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | The U.S. attorney selection committee, which had wrapped up interviews weeks ago and recommended the nomination of prominent San Diego defense lawyer Jerry Coughlan, apparently has run into a political roadblock.
Sources close to the process said Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office hesitated at the recommendation of Coughlan because of concerns that his selection could spark resignations within the U.S. Attorney’s office. Some senior U.S. attorneys and defense lawyers previously described Coughlan in a voiceofsandiego.org story as “arrogant” and “divisive.” The prosecutors asked not to be identified because the subject is sensitive.
As a result, the committee interviewed another candidate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, on June 10, the sources said. Duffy, deputy chief of the general crimes section and a former member of the narcotics unit, has successfully prosecuted about 20 leaders of the much-feared Arellano Félix drug cartel.
Coughlan remains the committee’s first choice, but it’s unclear which name or names will be submitted in the wake of Duffy’s interview, the sources said. The senator will decide who will be offered to President Obama for nomination, and the nominee must be confirmed by the Senate. At this pace, it’s unlikely a new U.S. attorney would be in office before late in the year.