Wednesday, January 24, 2001

U.S. attorney post has local lawyers salivating




By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Republican lawyers in Cincinnati are lining up for a shot at one of the better political appointments that comes along when the White House changes hands - the post of U.S. attorney.

        Democrat Sharon Zealey has held the office in the Southern District of Ohio since President Clinton appointed her in 1997.

        Now, with a Republican president in the White House, U.S. attorneys in districts nationwide are likely to be replaced within the next few months with GOP lawyers.

        Those who have expressed an interest in the U.S. attorney's job that is based in Cincinnati include:

        • Karl Kadon, a former assistant Cincinnati city solicitor who is now chief assistant to Hamilton County prosecutor Mike Allen.

        • Ralph W. Kohnen, an assistant U.S. attorney and son of former Hamilton County GOP chairman Ralph B. Kohnen Jr.

        • Nee Fong Chin, an assistant Hamilton County prosecutor.

        • William Schenck, Greene County prosecutor.

        The president makes U.S. attorney appointments, but, in most cases, takes the recommendations of the U.S. senators from the state where the district is located.

        That means Ohio's two Republican senators, Mike DeWine and George Voinovich, will play a key role in choosing Ms. Zealey's successor. Mr. DeWine, a lawyer and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will take the lead in the screening process for U.S. attorney and federal judgeship ap pointments.

        DeWine spokesman Mike Dawson said he expects Mr. DeWine will announce details of a screening process for potential appointees later this week.

        When Ms. Zealey became the first woman and first African-American to become U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Ohio, then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn, a Democrat, took the lead in the screening process. Mr. Glenn put together a panel of legal professionals and lay people to make recommendations to him.

        When President Clinton took office in 1993, he immediately fired all U.S. attorneys hired by the previous Bush administration. But there is no indication that the new president, George W. Bush, plans an immediate house-cleaning.

       



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