The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility — which has lately been in a number of internal DOJ investigations into high-profile issues — will soon have a new chief.
The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Eric Holder will name as the head of the office Mary Patrice Brown, a respected career prosecutor who currently leads the criminal division at the US Attorney’s office for Washington DC. Brown will replace Marshall Jarrett, who has been there since 1998, and will shift over to lead the executive office of the US Attorneys.
That move could create an interesting situation for Jarrett — and may represent additional evidence that Holder is determined to avoid charges that he’s replicating the Bushies’ politicization of the department. One of the major OPR probes he oversaw, along with the department’s Inspector General, concerned the Bush administration’s US Attorney firings. The investigation, concluded last year, found that several of the attorneys had been fired improperly, but was prevented from drawing broader conclusions thanks to stonewalling by key DOJ and White House figures. Now Jarrett himself — who figures to have little patience for efforts to use DOJ for partisan gain, having spent the last decade probing evidence of wrongdoing at the department — will be leading the office that oversees the US Attorneys.
OPR has also just begun a probe into the misconduct by DOJ prosecutors which ultimately convinced Holder to recommend dropping the charges against Ted Stevens. Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is seeking contempt charges against the prosecutors, betrayed a lack of confidence in Jarrett’s investigation when he named his own special prosecutor to look into the issue.
And OPR has also been investigating the actions of lawyers for the Bush DOJ who wrote memos justifying harsh interrogation tactics. The office’s report on that issue, which has not yet been released, was reportedly modified after input from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and one of his deputies.
So Brown will certainly have her work cut out for her.