Joe Biden speaks to his supporters during a campaign event at Tougaloo College's Kroger Gymnasium Sunday, March 8, 2020. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

More than 10 months into his first term, President Joe Biden has yet to announce his nominees for the two U.S. attorneys slots in Mississippi.

When asked recently for an update on the nomination process, Ike Hajinazarian, a regional White House communications director, said “no news to share on this right now.”

Early in his tenure, Biden asked for the resignations of the two Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys in Mississippi, Mike Hurst in the Southern District and William C. Lamar in the Northern District.

Currently serving as interim U.S. attorneys are Clay Joyner in the Northern District and Darren LaMarca in the Southern District — both longtime prosecutors.

U.S. attorneys oversee the prosecutions for violations of federal crimes. Traditionally in Mississippi, they have placed an emphasis on pursuing public corruption cases. The people ultimately appointed to the posts by the president will face U.S. Senate confirmation.

Those being rumored as possible contenders for the posts include former state Attorney General Jim Hood, state District Attorney Scott Colom of Columbus, state Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville, state District Attorney Jody Owens of Jackson, Ole Miss law professor and MacArthur Justice Center director Cliff Johnson, former Southern District U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis and others.

Davis was appointed U.S. attorney by former President Barack Obama. Obama appointed Davis to the Southern District seat and Felicia Adams to the Northern District post during his second year in office.

Trump appointed Hurst and Lamar in June of his first year in office.

According to a September news release from the White House, the president has named 25 nominees for U.S. attorney slots. There are 93 U.S. attorneys across the natino, and it is customary for an incoming president to replace most, if not all, of the U.S. attorneys named by his predecessor.

Generally speaking, the state’s federal elected officials, especially senators, have influence in such presidential appointments on the state level. Since Mississippi has no Democratic senators, it is likely that U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, will have influence with the Biden administration in making such appointments.

Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported on the death of a federal judge. U.S. Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo recently died. Federal magistrates, unlike federal judges, are not presidential appointees.


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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.