Damian Williams Nominated To Become First Black Prosecutor at One of the Nation’s Top Federal Courts

In a historic move, attorney Damian Williams has been nominated by President Biden to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, one of the most high-profile law enforcement departments within the United States.

NPR’s Jaclyn Diaz reported that “if confirmed, Williams would be the first Black man to lead the prestigious office that covers Manhattan, the Bronx and areas north of New York City, including Westchester County.”

According to Diaz, “the office has been behind several major federal cases in recent years, including the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking investigation and recent inquiries into the Trump Organization and associates of former President Donald Trump.”

Originally from Brooklyn and the son of Jamaican immigrants, Williams is a graduate of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and Yale Law School. He is currently the head of the Southern District of New York’s securities fraud unit.

“He [also] has close ties with the Justice Department in Washington,” Diaz reported. “After law school, Williams clerked for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland when Garland was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He also was a clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.”

In addition to Williams, Biden also nominated seven other individuals to serve as U.S. attorneys at various locations across the nation. The other nominees are:

  • Carla Freedman to lead the Office of the Northern District of New York
  • Breon S. Peace to head the Eastern District of New York
  • Jessica D. Aber as the U.S. attorney nominee for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • William J. Ihlenfeld II to the Northern District of West Virginia
  • Christopher Kavanaugh to the Western District of Virginia
  • William Thompson to the Southern District of West Virginia
  • Darcie McElwee to lead the District of Maine

In his nomination announcement, President Biden said each individual was “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.”

Williams and the other nominees will next meet with members of Congress as part of their nomination confirmation process.

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