01.23.09

Leahy Makes Selection For Vermont’s Next U.S. Attorney

(FRIDAY, Jan. 23) -- U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is recommending Hinesburg attorney Tristram J. Coffin to President Obama to be Vermont’s next U.S. Attorney.

Coffin, 45, would be the 36th United States Attorney in Vermont’s history, managing the U.S. Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney offices in Burlington and Rutland and overseeing the work of nearly 20 attorneys who represent the United States in criminal and civil investigations and litigation in Vermont.

“Tris Coffin is a perfect fit for a difficult job,” said Leahy.  “He has a wide range of investigative and courtroom experience that will allow him to hit the ground running.”  He noted Coffin’s past work on the kind of drug-crime issues that Leahy says must remain a top law enforcement priority in Vermont.  

Leahy said several outstanding candidates expressed interest in the position.  “The quality of the candidates speaks well for our state, but it made for a very difficult decision.”

Leahy also tipped his hat to outgoing U.S. Attorney Thomas D. Anderson, who held the post since 2006.  “I again thank and commend Tom Anderson for his superb work and service.  He and Tris Coffin are the kind of thoroughgoing professionals who have helped make our justice system the envy of the world.”

Coffin served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Vermont district’s criminal division from 1998 to 2006 and in the civil division from 1994 until 1998.  Since 2006 he has been in private practice in Burlington with the firm of Paul Frank & Collins, P.C.  He worked as a staff attorney for Leahy on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1991 to 1994 and has a law degree from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.   He has been recognized for outstanding work with the New England Organized Crime and Drug Task Force.

Leahy will forward Coffin’s name to the White House for the President’s consideration.  As the senior senator of the President’s party, Leahy has the prerogative of suggesting candidates for U.S. Attorney positions and for other posts in Vermont.  Leahy also chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will handle the nomination once the Senate receives it.

Leahy said Obama’s selection of Eric Holder -- also a former U.S. Attorney -- to be attorney general already is restoring morale among federal prosecutors.  Leahy has set a Judiciary Committee vote for next Wednesday on Holder’s nomination.

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