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The Dallas Morning News

4 lawyers contending to be next U.S. attorney in North Texas

December 10, 2008

Four lawyers have emerged as contenders to be North Texas' next U.S. attorney, a position to be filled by incoming President Barack Obama.

Three – Larry Jarrett, Terri Moore and Mike Snipes – are former assistant U.S. attorneys, and one – Sarah Saldaña – is currently a federal prosecutor. All are Democrats and have sought local political office, one successfully. Mike Snipes currently serves as judge in Dallas County's Criminal District Court No. 7, a job he won in the 2006 Democratic sweep. Judge Snipes was a federal prosecutor in Dallas from 1991 to 2004. He is also a West Point graduate and retired Army Reserve colonel. "I've got 13 years as a federal prosecutor," he said. "I've been in every single section there. I'd love to be back in that environment. I think I can get that office excited about doing some justice."

It is customary for an incoming president to install new leadership in the 93 U.S. attorney slots around the country. North Texas' current U.S. attorney, Richard Roper, a Bush appointee who has served since 2004, said he is not sure when he will be leaving to go into private practice but suspects it will be early next year. Mr. Roper's successor will oversee about 90 lawyers who prosecute federal crimes in a 100-county territory stretching from Dallas southwest to San Angelo and north to Amarillo. Darlene Ewing, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, said the field of contenders is talented – and competitive.

"There's been a lot of jockeying," she said. She said that with the country's first black president about to take office, a minority appointee probably has a good shot. "I think a woman would be nice, and Hispanic, given all the immigration issues and drug issues that the area is facing," she said. "But they're all well-respected." Patrick McLain, a local defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, also lauded the group. "If those are the choices, the U.S. attorney's office will be doing fine," he said.

"Snipes and I worked together as federal prosecutors," he said. "Jarrett is a fellow Marine. Saldaña is wonderful; she's got a great personality for getting people to work together. Terri Moore is the one I don't know, but everything I've read about her, and all the work she's done for Craig Watkins, you have to be impressed." All new U.S. attorneys must be confirmed by the Senate.