The committee that will help choose the next U.S. attorney in San Diego includes some prominent members of the legal community from both political parties.

The panel of lawyers, selected by Sen. Barbara Boxer and announced today, includes: Chairwoman Candace Carroll, a former president of California Women Lawyers; former San Diego U.S. Attorney Greg Vega; former California Superior Court Judge and ex-Assistant U.S. Attorney Annie Gutierrez; Ex-University of San Diego provost Sister Sally Furay; former Justice Department attorney Janice Brown; state Deputy Attorney General Erika Hiramatsu; and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Fellmeth, now a law professor at the University of San Diego.

The committee will vet candidates and make recommendations to Boxer, who will then submit a name to the president for nomination. The nominee must be confirmed by the Senate.

Boxer’s office will post an application on its website tomorrow, a spokeswoman said. It’s unclear when the committee will get started.

Fellmeth said several members of the committee, himself included, have served before. Fellmeth was part of the group that recommended former U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin, and more recently, some federal judges.

“I think there will be a tendency to find people who are balanced and well qualified and I don’t think there will be any ideological or partisan splits here at all with this group,” Fellmeth said. “I think it will be totally focused on who’s good, who’s smart, who’s honest.”

Fellmeth, a Republican, said Boxer’s office did not ask him his political persuasion. Nor did the staff give him a schedule for the process or litmus test for the candidates.

I would be offended if they did and I’m not going to pay any attention to that at all. You’re not choosing someone to be on the U.S. Supreme Court. You’re picking someone who’s supposed to be enforcing the law. The focus is going to be on who’s professional and competent and will make decisions on the merit.

Fellmeth said he had no particular candidate in mind but was aware of interest by some. He said he would be open to soliciting applications from lawyers he admires.

I’m all for having the committee meet and brainstorm who is the best possible person in the county and calling them and saying, ‘Why isn’t your name in here?’ That’s how you get the good candidates. You don’t just put a want ad out there.

The new U.S. attorney will inherit an office that has endured political controversy, wild priority shifts and frequent turnover at the top in recent years

Among the names of possible applicants being mentioned: Former federal prosecutors Jerry Coughlan, now a defense attorney; Superior Court Judge and former federal prosecutor Amalia Meza; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mitchell D. Dembin, Kevin J. Kelly, Christopher P. Tenorio and Randy K. Jones; and former City Attorney Casey Gwinn. Also mentioned was former federal prosecutor Michael Attanasio, but he has said he did not intend to apply.


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