The man in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans is getting a new job title, but his responsibilities will remain the same.
Facing deadline pressure, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday that Duane Evans will now serve as the interim rather than the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Sessions also tapped Alexander Van Hook, who has been serving as acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, to serve as that office’s interim chief.
The change in title won't have any practical effect besides allowing both men to legally remain in charge of their respective offices.
The White House has yet to nominate anyone to fill either role on a permanent basis. But by law, an acting U.S. attorney can serve for only 300 days. As interim U.S. attorneys, both men can now serve for another 120 days before President Donald Trump must nominate permanent appointees and win Senate confirmation.
In all, Sessions on Wednesday named 17 interim U.S. attorneys to temporarily take the place of Obama administration holdovers around the country whom he ordered to resign last year.
Peter Strasser, a partner at the Chaffe McCall law firm and a former longtime federal prosecutor and legal attaché for the Department of Justi…
The White House still hasn't nominated anyone as a permanent replacement for any of those 17 districts, including two of the three districts in Louisiana.
Evans was named acting head of the federal office in New Orleans in March 2017, after the Justice Department ordered the resignation of U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, who was appointed by Barack Obama.
Evans, a native of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, served as an assistant district attorney for the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2000 before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He rose to become the office’s first assistant before he was asked to fill the top spot on a temporary basis.
While the president has yet to tap anyone to fill the top prosecutor slot in New Orleans, The New Orleans Advocate reported in November that defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Peter Strasser is expected to get the nod.
Kyle Schonekas, the pugnacious defense lawyer who was U.S. Sen. John Kennedy’s surprise pick to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans…
Sessions in March sought resignation letters from 46 U.S. attorneys who were Obama appointees, including Preet Bharara, the high-profile Manhattan federal prosecutor who was fired after refusing to step down with the others.
Attention has focused on who will replace Bharara, given Trump's interest in the New York district. Sessions on Wednesday named Geoffrey S. Berman as interim U.S. attorney, and Trump is expected to nominate him for the permanent post. He worked as a federal prosecutor in the Manhattan office in the 1990s and is now a law partner of former New York Mayor and Trump ally Rudy Giuliani.
It's fairly customary for the 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their posts once a new president is in office, but the abrupt nature of the dismissals in March angered some. The Senate has now confirmed 46 U.S. attorneys; 12 more have been nominated.
Trump has nominated veteran state prosecutor Brandon Fremin to serve as permanent U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
When Kenneth Polite announced Friday he was stepping down as U.S. attorney, he planned to give himself two weeks to wrap things up.