Vanessa Avery nominated to be 1st Black female U.S. attorney in Connecticut

Avery has served as the chief of the Division of Enforcement and Public Protection at the state attorney general’s office since 2021

Vanessa Avery (Credit: portal.ct.gov)

President Joe Biden has nominated a diverse group of six lawyers to run U.S. attorney’s offices across the country, his latest picks for the top law enforcement positions.

The nominees, announced by the White House on Wednesday, would run the federal prosecutors’ offices in Alaska, Connecticut, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Utah. They would include the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney in Utah and the first Black woman to serve as U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. attorneys, who are responsible for federal criminal prosecutions in their respective districts, are likely to be central to efforts to combat violent crime. Biden has now nominated 43 people to serve as U.S. attorneys, positions that have been filled for months by acting U.S. attorneys.

Vanessa Avery (Credit: portal.ct.gov)

The candidates were “chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the White House said.

The nominees include Vanessa Avery, a former federal prosecutor who is now a top lawyer in the Connecticut attorney general’s office, to be the U.S. attorney there. Since 2021, she has served as the chief of the Division of Enforcement and Public Protection at the state attorney general’s office.

She was an associate state attorney general and worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut. If confirmed, Avery would be the first African American woman to serve as U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

President Joe Biden speaks about the government’s COVID-19 response, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The last Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney in the state, John Durham, currently serves as special counsel overseeing the investigation into the origins of the Russia probe that shadowed Donald Trump’s presidency for years.

Durham left his position as U.S. attorney last year — the Justice Department asked prosecutors appointed by Trump to resign from their posts as the Biden administration moved to transition to its own nominees — but has remained as a special counsel after being appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr.

Biden also nominated Trina Higgins, a longtime federal prosecutor, to serve as U.S. attorney in Utah. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney for Utah.

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