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Superior Court Judge Emerges as Likely Choice for U.S. Attorney in Maine
03/03/2010   Reported By: Josie Huang

President Obama is into his second year of office, and still has not signaled who he wants to be the next U.S. Attorney for Maine. But in Maine legal circles, Superior Court Justice Thomas Delahanty II has emerged as the likely pick.

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"I don't think that would be much of a surprise," says Cab Howard, an assistant law professor at the University of Maine School of Law.

Howard says there has been widespread speculation that Delahanty will become the top federal law enforcer in Maine. "He actually was the United States Attorney in the past, so he's obviously familiar with the job."

Delahanty, who served in the post in 1980 and 1981, says he is not at liberty to discuss the nomination process. But he acknowledges that he had traveled to Washington D.C. for an interview in late January.

Delahanty is one of four finalists chosen by an advisory committee of Maine lawyers. The others include Evert Fowle, district attorney for Kennebec County; and law firm partners Jay McCloskey and Thimi Mina.

McCloskey, who served as U.S. Attorney for Maine during the Clinton administration, confirms that he is out of the running.
"Obviously, I was interested in being U.S. attorney and the rumor has it that someone else has been selected, and I don't know when that will be confirmed," McCloskey says.

McCloskey says he hopes the Obama administration will appoint that person soon. "The process of the U.S. Attorney has been extraordinarily slow," he says. When I was selected as U.S. Attorney I was sitting as U.S. Attorney in the November of the year of the election. So hopefully they will get a U.S. Attorney nominated and confirmed relatively soon, and we'll move on to the new administration."

Paula Silsby, who has been serving as U.S. Attorney for Maine since 2001, has agreed to stay in the post until a successor is named.

Some say a new U.S. Attorney can change the direction of the office.

"There may be one or two key issues that somebody might want to undertake in 2010 that had not pushed or pursued as vigorously in the last eight or nine years," says Jeff Thaler, an attorney at Bernstein Shur in Portland, and a member of the advisory committee of lawyers who narrowed the pool of applicants from 14 to four.

"A new U.S. Attorney could decide that there might be particular types of civil prosecutions that she or he would want to emphasize and assign more staff to," Thaler says. "That could be civil fraud, or securities fraud. It could relate to immigration issues."

But law professor Cab Howard says a lot of the work of the U.S. Attorney is predetermined, such as the prosecution of federal crimes and defending the federal government when it is sued.

"Most of that work isn't newsworthy or of significant political consequence," Howard says. "So I think, perhaps, there's not been a great feeling of urgency to replace the incumbent with somebody of the other party."

The Executive Office for United States Attorneys did not return calls for comment for this story. Nor did the other Maine finalists for U.S. Attorney, Fowle and Mina.

Maine is not the only state waiting for a new U.S. Attorney. A ccording to the Web site,, just 34 of the country's 93 U.S. Attorney positions have been filled with Obama picks.



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