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Russell B. Long Federal Building and United States Courthouse, seen Thursday, June 20, 2019.

State Rep. Ted James headlines an early list of names circulating in the local legal community from which the region's next chief federal prosecutor could be chosen.

James, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, says he has sent a letter and résumé to the Biden administration.

Others mentioned as possible candidates for the position of U.S. attorney for the Baton Rouge-based Middle District of Louisiana include Assistant 18th Judicial District Attorney Ronald Gathe Jr.; state Department of Transportation and Development executive counsel Deidre Deculus Robert; and DeCuir, Clark & Adams law partner Michael Adams.

Brandon Fremin, a Republican appointee of former President Donald Trump, remains the U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge. However, when a new president of a different party is elected, it is common for that administration to name a new batch of U.S. attorneys from the same party.

President Joe Biden is a Democrat.

James, 39, has been a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives since 2012 and serves as chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee and the Legislative Black Caucus.

James said he has a direct relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris and has had post-election conversations with her concerning ways in which he would like to serve the Biden administration.

"If called upon, I would be more than willing to serve in the administration," James said Wednesday. "Just kind of waiting."

Gathe, 46, spent 20 years as an assistant district attorney in East Baton Rouge Parish before joining the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office last month as chief of litigation.

"It is an honor to be considered," he said. "I enjoy serving this great community in my capacity as a public speaker, trial attorney, and mentor to young attorneys. It really is my passion."

Gathe, an adjunct professor at Southern University Law Center, is vice president of membership for the National Black Prosecutors Association. He was previously the group's national treasurer and a regional director, and started the association's Louisiana chapter.

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Robert, 46, spent a combined 11 years with the Baton Rouge City Prosecutor's Office and East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney's Office, a half-dozen years with the state Attorney General's Office and two years as general counsel for the Southern University system before landing at DOTD as executive counsel.

She said she received a call from a colleague in the state Democratic Party leadership gauging her interest in the U.S. attorney post.

"I was just completely honored and humbled," Robert said. "Those kind of calls are very humbling."

Adams, 56, said he has not been contacted officially or unofficially about the position but is aware his name has been circulated in legal circles.

"I am thankful that people would think highly enough about me," he said. "I'm sure the president will appoint a very qualified and competent U.S. attorney."

Adams is a former assistant attorney general and sits on the board of directors for 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge. 

He also is a lawyer for Alton Sterling's three youngest children and their mother in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Sterling family after a White Baton Rouge police officer fatally shot the Black man during a 2016 encounter outside a North Foster Drive convenience store.

Tony Clayton, the newly elected 18th Judicial District attorney, said that while James and Gathe are being considered for U.S. attorney, he wishes Fremin could remain in the position.

"I mean that from the bottom of my heart," he said, adding that Fremin is fair and has done a great job.

Fremin refrained from commenting Friday.

The Middle District of Louisiana includes the parishes of Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.

Nominees for U.S. attorney positions must be approved by the Senate.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.