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Dallas judge Snipes, Houston lawyer Garcia among early U.S. Attorney candidates

November 14, 2008

With the selection of Barack Obama as the nation’s next president, the names of potential United States Attorneys in an Obama administration are slowly being floated. The slow nature of the process is especially the case in Texas, where the president-elect doesn’t have a Democratic senator to lean on for advice. As reported earlier this week, senators from the president's party are often the leaders in the selection process for the 93 U.S. Attorneys stationed in judicial districts across each state and various territories.

But among the four Texas districts (northern, southern, eastern, western), one name that’s already widely circulated is Mike Snipes (D-Dallas), a state criminal court judge. In a letter obtained by, Snipes applied to U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) the day after the election and put his name firmly into consideration for U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Texas.

“I believe that my experience, record of achievement, and lifetime of service to my country make me uniquely qualified for this critical position,” Snipes wrote. “It would be an honor to serve in President-elect Obama’s administration.” U.S. Attorneys are the highest-ranking federal law enforcement officials in their districts.

In the absence of a Democratic senator, the Democratic Congressional delegation will likely advise Obama on selections within the state, just as it did for Democratic President Bill Clinton. While some Congressmen will point out qualified candidates, regardless of what that person’s level of interest might be in the job, another method is for the potential attorney to apply himself to the House member, as Snipes did. Snipes met with Johnson face-to-face over the summer, and Johnson, who won re-election to the House last week by the widest margin in Dallas County, is calling Snipes a strong candidate with a “pretty impressive background.”

Snipes served in the U.S. Army for 29 years, retiring as a full Colonel in 2004 after leading a legal support organization in Iraq. He worked for 13 years as a federal prosecutor for the Northern District before he was elected to his current post in 2006. In that election, Snipes received more votes than any non-incumbent Democrat.

In his letter, Snipes cited both his experience with war as well as his experience with the state’s Northern District and Dallas as leading reasons for his potential appointment. In order to accomplish the ambitious goals set out in his campaign, President Obama will need experienced, tested leaders throughout the administration,” Snipes wrote. “Nowhere is this truer than in the Department of Justice. With my wide range of experience in the military, federal, and state courts, I know how to aggressively and fairly seek justice and prosecute criminals. “I have led lawyers during a time of war; I can lead them again in the war on crime.”