Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Barnes withdraws from U.S. attorney consideration

Posted By on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 2:40 PM

You've read my carping about the slow pace of judicial and U.S. attorney appointments by the Obama administration.

Fallout today.

Michael Barnes, a partner at Wright Lindsey and Jennings who was widely presumed to be the pick for U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock, released a brief statement today saying he would no longer be seeking the position.

"It was an honor to be considered but I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration," he said. "This process has taken a very long time, but it is now time for me to get back to my law practice and the great firm of Wright Lindsey and Jennings. I’m certain an outstanding person will ultimately be selected to fill this very important position."

Emphasis on ultimately. Already, it seems likely the U.S. attorneys chosen in Arkansas will begin work with less than two years remaining on President Obama's first (maybe only) term.

Barnes, 47, a partner at the Wright firm since 1993 and son of federal Judge Harry Barnes of Camden, wouldn't comment further. But not having even been nominated yet by the president, a candidate for this job is looking at months before completion of the confirmation process, presuming he or she doesn't present a problem to one Republican or another who might place a hold on a nomination or stir up a filibuster.

Chris Thyer and Edward O. Walker also were recommended for the post by Arkansas's senators, but my sources said Barnes was the top pick and had been through required Justice Department interviews. His name was sent forward last October and still no action. Why so slow? There's been no movement on a U.S. attorney for the western district, either, or for a couple of federal judgeships in Arkansas. Arkansas seems behind the curve on U.S. attorney confirmations, according to this website that monitors U.S. attorney appointments (not a Justice Department website as I originally wrote).

I asked if the senators had comments. A spokesman for Pryor said, "No. We feel the same way you do."

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