Federally indicted Portage Mayor James Snyder's defense attorney - Thomas Kirsch - was nominated for Northwest Indiana US Attorney, by President Trump ... This should get interesting, eh.
Conflict will have to be resolved as new U.S. Atty Kirsch moves from defense to prosecution
Jul 20, 2017
HAMMOND — Thomas Lee Kirsch II's latest career move could require some shuffling by clients and the federal prosecution of Portage's mayor.
The White House announced last week it is nominating Kirsch to replace interim U.S. Attorney Clifford Johnson.
Jay Kenworthy, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said Monday confirmation hearings may not be scheduled for some months. Kirsch, a Republican sponsored by Young, is expected to win approval from the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
Once confirmed, Kirsch would direct the prosecution of hundreds of criminal cases in the U.S. District Courts in Hammond, South Bend, Fort Wayne and Lafayette.
Except one, according to legal experts knowledgeable in state and federal ethics standards.
Portage Mayor James Snyder hired Kirsch last year to stand by his side during a Nov. 18 arraignment to answer federal charges of bribery, solicitation of bribery and providing false information to the Internal Revenue Service to conceal income and assets to repay a tax debt.
Snyder, who has pleaded not guilty, has included Kirsch on his defense team since then. Federal prosecutors in Hammond, soon expecting to be under Kirsch's supervision, are preparing evidence against Snyder, whose trial is set to begin in January.
The U.S. Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment.
The Standards of Conduct page of the DOJ's Offices of the U.S. Attorneys' website states that on entering the department for duty, attorneys must, in general, withdraw from all cases they are currently handling and avoid an appearance of biased or less-than-impartial conduct.
"Clearly, he cannot prosecute his former client," Donald Lundberg said this week. Lundberg is an Indianapolis lawyer and a former Indiana Supreme Court investigator of lawyer ethics. He also specializes in helping set standards of ethics and professional responsibility for the American Bar Association.
"The question then becomes whether his conflict of interest can be imputed to his entire (U.S. attorney's) office," Lundberg said. "If it is, then the entire office is disqualified."
Lundberg said he believes the DOJ has guidelines governing potential conflicts and when a U.S. attorney must be recused from a case. "I can guarantee you this is not the first time this has arisen," Lundberg said.
He said Indiana state prosecutors commonly recuse themselves from cases in which they have conflicts of interest with the defendant, requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor, often from a different county.
Lundberg said an Indiana attorney is generally prohibited from using the secrets learned from a former client to later put that client in jeopardy.
"General conflict-of-interest principles come into play. A lawyer can never be adverse to a former client in the same or substantially related matter," he said.
Neither Kirsch nor Snyder could be reached for comment.
Kenworthy, of Young's office, said U.S. attorney nominees routinely are asked to report any potential conflicts to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. A spokesperson for that office declined comment
"The Department of Justice could take this prosecution outside the (Northern Indiana) district altogether and essentially recuse the entire (Hammond) office because of Tom's position there," said Larry Mackey, an Indianapolis attorney and former federal prosecutor for 19 years in Illinois and downstate Indiana.
"The prosecution could then fall to a public corruption section (of lawyers) in Justice Main in Washington, D.C., that handle cases all around the country.
"Another alternative is for a prosecutor from another district, from Chicago, for example, to be appointed for purposes of that prosecution. The direction, decision making and strategy would be done by somebody other than Tom," Mackey said.
"A third option would be to keep the leadership of the prosecution inside the Northern Indiana District's office and simply wall off their decision making in the case from (Kirsch)."
Senate Republicans applaud president’s U.S. attorney nominees
By Ripon Advance News Service
July 18, 2017
President Donald Trump’s nominations of U.S. attorneys to serve Indiana, Missouri and North Carolina drew praise from U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
The president nominated Thomas Kirsch to serve as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, Joshua Minkler to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Bobby Higdon to serve as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, and Jeffrey Jensen to serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Young said Kirsch, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Indiana’s Northern District, has a “great legal mind” and a willingness to take on powerful interests. Minkler, who spent 21 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District, Young added, has demonstrated “integrity and a heart for his community” throughout his career.
“Both Josh and Tom are respected throughout the state,” Young said. “I’m confident that if partisan politics do not stand in the way, the vast majority of my Senate colleagues will vote for confirmation.”
Blunt said Jensen, a former FBI agent and executive U.S. attorney, is uniquely qualified to serve as U.S. Attorney for Missouri’s Eastern District.
“I’ve received numerous letters of support for Mr. Jensen’s nomination from local and federal law enforcement officers, all of which speak to his exceptional level of dedication, integrity and leadership ability,” Blunt said. “Mr. Jensen has a demonstrated commitment to building stronger, safer communities through both his public service and civic involvement. I look forward to supporting his nomination as the confirmation process moves forward.”
Higdon, meanwhile, previously handled high-profile cases as a federal prosecutor and also served as the criminal chief in North Carolina’s Eastern District before his appointment.
“Bobby Higdon is an incredibly qualified choice for U.S. Attorney, holding decades of prosecutorial experience,” Tillis said. “Eastern North Carolina will benefit from Bobby’s leadership.”
Burr agreed that Higdon is “an excellent choice” to serve as U.S. attorney for North Carolina’s Eastern District.
“He has extensive legal expertise, having served as an assistant United States attorney in both the Western and Eastern Districts of North Carolina, and will provide fair and experienced leadership in this role,” Burr said.
For Immediate Release:
President Donald J. Trump Announces Third Wave of United States Attorney Candidate Nominations
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
July 14, 2017
President Donald J. Trump today announced his third wave of United States Attorney candidates.
The United States Attorney serves as the chief Federal law enforcement officer within his or her Federal judicial district. These candidates share the President’s vision for “Making America Safe Again.” Accordingly, the President today announced his intent to nominate these individuals to serve as United States Attorney:
If confirmed, Peter E. Deegan, Jr. of Iowa will serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa. Mr. Deegan is currently an Assistant United States Attorney and the Chief of the Criminal Division in the Northern District of Iowa. He has worked at the Iowa U.S. Attorney’s Office for more than 10 years. He also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan from 2004 to 2006. Mr. Deegan has prosecuted a variety of Federal offenses with an emphasis on complex white collar and business crime. He previously was an associate attorney at Murphy Smith & Polk PC in Chicago, where his practice focused on labor and employment litigation. Mr. Deegan clerked for the Honorable Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He received his B.A., cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D., cum laude, from Wayne State University Law School.
If confirmed, Robert J. Higdon, Jr. of North Carolina will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Mr. Higdon is currently a partner at the law firm of Williams Mullen. He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in both the Western and Eastern Districts of North Carolina. In the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Higdon served as Chief of the Criminal Division for more than 11 years. Mr. Higdon also served as senior trial counsel in the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. He received his B.A., cum laude, from Wake Forest University and his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law.
If confirmed, Jeffrey B. Jensen of St. Louis will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. Mr. Jensen is currently a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Missouri starting in 1999, and was Executive United States Attorney from 2005 to 2009. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Jensen was an FBI Special Agent from 1989 to 1999. While working at the FBI, Mr. Jensen attended St. Louis University School of Law at night, graduating magna cum laude. He also received his B.A., cum laude, from Indiana University School of Business.
If confirmed, Thomas L. Kirsch II of Indiana will serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. Mr. Kirsch is currently a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, where his practice focuses on complex litigation and corporate investigations. Previously, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana and as counsel to the Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy. Mr. Kirsch clerked for the Honorable John Daniel Tinder of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. He received his B.A. from Indiana University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
If confirmed, Marc Krickbaum of Illinois will serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. Mr. Krickbaum is currently an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, and he previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Iowa. Prior to joining those U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Mr. Krickbaum served as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, and as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. Mr. Krickbaum clerked for the Honorable Steven M. Colloton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and the Honorable Mark Filip of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He received his B.A. with highest distinction from the University of Iowa, and his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
If confirmed, Joshua J. Minkler of Indiana will serve as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. Mr. Minkler has served as the interim United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana since June 2015. Prior to that appointment, he served for 21 years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana, where he held the positions of First Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Drug and Violent Crime Unit. Before he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Minkler served for five years as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the Office of the Kent County Michigan Prosecuting Attorney, where he prosecuted violent crimes. Mr. Minkler received his B.A. from Wabash College, and his J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
Schererville lawyer nominated for U.S. attorney
July 14, 2017
President Donald Trump nominated a Schererville attorney Friday to become the next U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.
Thomas Kirsch, now a partner at Winston and Strawn, LLP., in Chicago is one of the two potential U.S. attorneys nominated by the president, according to an announcement from Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. Kirsch, if confirmed, will fill the vacancy left by former U.S. Attorney David Capp, a long-time federal prosecutor who led the Northern District of Indiana for eight years.
"Tom has a great legal mind and is a fearless litigator who has shown a willingness to take on powerful interests," said Young, in a statement. "I have no doubt he will continue the laudable work done by David Capp over the last decade."
Kirsch, 43, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Prior to joining Winston and Strawn, Kirsch was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Indiana. Kirsch attended Indiana University and Harvard Law School.
"We're always happy to see our local talent rise to the top," said Adam Sedia, president of the Lake County Bar Association and an associate at Hoeppner Wagner and Evans, Merrillville.
Kirsch currently represents Portage Mayor James Snyder, who was indicted in November on public corruption charges, according to court records.
Capp, who worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office for more than 30 years, submitted his resignation in March per the request of the Trump administration, even though he planned to retire in June, according to a press release. In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought resignations for the U.S. attorneys appointed under former President Barack Obama, the Associated Press reported.
Clifford Johnson, a first assistant U.S. attorney, is serving as the interim U.S. Attorney.
The president also nominated Joshua Minkler, of Zionsville, to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
UPDATE: Schererville's Kirsch named new U.S. Attorney
Jul 14, 2017
Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young congratulated Thomas L. Kirsch II, of Schererville, who will oversee criminal prosecutions for the U.S. District offices of Hammond, South Bend, Fort Wayne and Lafayette. The U.S. District of Northern Indiana comprises 32 counties.
Kirsch will replace Clifford Johnson, who has served as acting U.S. Attorney since David Capp's departure in March. His nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Kirsch is currently a partner with the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, where his practice focuses on litigation and investigations.
Kirsch served as an assistant U.S. Attorney here from 2001 to 2008. He received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University in 1996 in economics and political science, with honors, and a law degree from Harvard University.
Kirsch currently is defense lawyer for Portage Mayor James Snyder, who on Nov. 16 was indicted on charges he solicited money from a local businessman to put him on the city's towing list. Snyder is a Republican in his second term as mayor of the largest city in Porter County. His federal corruption and bribery trial has been pushed back to January.
Neither Snyder nor Kirsch, who was out of his law office Friday afternoon, could be reached for comment.
Young today praised the nomination of what he termed an extraordinarily qualified Hoosier.
"Tom has a great legal mind and is a fearless litigator who has shown a willingness to take on powerful interests. I have no doubt he will continue the laudable work done by David Capp over the last decade," Young said.
Capp said Friday, "I think it's an excellent choice. Tom is a very experienced litigator. I worked hand in hand with him for about seven years. He has great judgment. I never hesitated to assign him our most complex case whether it was violent crime or public corruption.
"Tom will be well-received by everyone in the U.S. Attorney's office, law enforcement, the judiciary, the defense bar. He is a great choice," Capp said.
The biography on the law office's website states he focused as an assistant U.S. Attorney here on white collar investigations and prosecutions, including the prosecution of numerous elected and appointed public officials.
He also handled complex high-profile white collar investigations, prosecuted many jury trials, and briefed and argued numerous appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals.
He has prosecuted offenses in numerous areas including: mail and wire fraud; honest services fraud; tax fraud; bank fraud; health care fraud; conspiracy; extortion; money laundering; racketeering; obstruction of justice; perjury; and gangs and narcotics.
For one year, Kirsch also served as counsel to the assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy. While in Washington, D.C., he assisted in developing legislative and policy proposals in corporate crime, violent crime and counter-terrorism.