More on the South Dakota Connection to the mess with all the US Attorneys. Is the finger being pointed at Judge Piersol in congressional hearings?

On February 6th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on prosecutorial independence, giving us all a window into why provisions were put into the patriot act to grant the Justice Department greater latitude in judicial appointments. And after seeing what went on, I can see why the administration might ask for it.

What did this hearing note? Again, it looks as if all of the trouble with the U.S. Attorneys comes back to South Dakota and Judge Larry Piersol trying to appoint his own person at nearly the same time as the president was appointing someone.

If you recall, there had been some trouble securing an permanent appointment. And come to find out, as they were in the middle of a new person taking over on a temporary basis, at one point in a criminal trial the federal public defender challenged an indictment brought by the interim U.S. attorney, claiming that he didn't have the authority prosecute because Judge Piersol had appointed someone else.

Of course, it's never a good thing to find out that someone else has your job in the middle of a trial. If you recall (as reported in the Rapid City Journal):
..... the Justice Department named Steven Mullins, then assistant U.S. Attorney for the western district of Oklahoma, as interim U.S. attorney in South Dakota. Mullins was sworn in the same day that former interim U.S. attorney Michelle Tapken officially resigned, according to court documents.

But U.S. District Judge Larry Piersol of Sioux Falls challenged that appointment. Piersol already had signed an order two days earlier — on Dec. 20 — appointing Mark Meierhenry, a Sioux Falls lawyer and former South Dakota attorney general, as interim U.S. attorney.
Read that here.

Mark Meierhenry was somebody who, while serving with distinction as State AG, hadn't gone through a federal background check. According to Deputy Attorney General McNulty's testimony a couple of days ago -
"We couldn't even communicate with that individual on classified information until a background check would have been done."
You could see where that could be a problem. And why they might try to pass a law to prevent it from happening again.

Actually, this is pretty fascinating stuff about the jurisdictional wrangling that's finally coming
to light a year later, with a Democrat appointed Judge seemingly trying to insert his own appointment overtaking that of the President.

And to think all of this caused a now controversial provision to be inserted into federal law. To prevent future controversial actions by Federal Judges.

(Somebody should write a book on all of this).


Anonymous said…
maybe Larry Pierson, aka former Democratic legislator and worshipper of Tom Daschle, should just keep his liberal nose out of the DOJ's business
Anonymous said…
maybe George Bush should get a brain
Anonymous said…
Get the facts...Piersol did what he did because DOJ wasn't following the law...not according to Pierson but according to Harriet Meiers. Don't blame this one Piersol...blame it on Bush. Bush couldn't do what he wanted to do under the he got it changed.
Anonymous said…

i'm sure it will be in the Argus tomorrow

Anonymous said…
Piersol stuck his nose in and tried to appoint a Bush/Thune hating Daschle lover to prevent the DOJ from appointing a the whole world knows
Anonymous said…
it will be fun to watch Clean Cut Kid and the Daschlistas and Kranz and the Argus defend Piersol's war against the DOJ
Anonymous said…
if it can hurt the Republicans and help Daschle, Piersol is all for it...he was the same way as a Democratic legislator in Pierre in the old days of the 1970s that Terry Woster loves so much
Anonymous said…
no offense PP, but WHY ISN'T THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA COVERING THIS?? am i missing something?
scimitar said…
If Piersol was in the wrong, why did Republicans have to change the law? The answer is: Piersol followed the law and Bush didn't like it.

The facts are that Thune and Bush sat on their asses and didn't get anybody in place as US Attorney.

First they appointed Scott Abdallah who couldn't pass the background check. Then they put Michelle Tapken in as a temporary.

Michelle Tapken did not resign. Her temporary appointment ran out because the law limited how long someone could be appointed temporarily, and prevented reappointment of the same person. Ms. Tapken also had a potential conflict of interest because her son Chris Tapken might have been facing charges as a partner of Dan Nelson Automotive.

The law allowed the chief federal judge of South Dakota to appoint a US Attorney when the administration wasn't doing it. Piersol followed the law.

Bush and Thune screwed up so badly that their first pick failed then they had to appoint not one but 2 temporary US attorneys. Then they compounded their screwup by bringing someone in from Oklahoma instead of choosing a South Dakotan.

Piersol is not the problem here. Republican incompetence is the problem.

At long last, we have a fine US Attorney from South Dakota - Marty Jackley.
Anonymous said…
You should all read Bill O'Reilly's "Culture Warrior", then you can identify the Secular Progressive's in South Dakota politics....democrats and republicans. Or you can keep an eye on the Mainstream Coalition bunch and who supports them in South Dakota.
Nicholas Nemec said…
Thank you Scimitar. I knew PP wasn't telling the story correctly but I couldn't remember the details. The Bush crew in DC has a long history of just making things up in an effort to get their way. It would appear that blaming Judge Piersol is just another example of that threadbare tactic.
Anonymous said…
Scmitar is correct except for one point. The Abdallah matter was years ago. Jim McMahon served with distinction for a couple of years and resigned to return to private practice. He left in December 2004/January 2005 after Bush was re-elected. Neither Bush nor Thune could get a person in place within the next 12 months. Piersol just was enforcing the law as written. Piersol did exactly what we pay him to do.
Anonymous said…
PP - There is nothing here. Scimitar and 7:44 have it right. Piersol was following the law. I thought the most significant element of this story was that Bush insulted SD by appointing an out-of-state attorney to the post - as if no one from SD was capable.

I agree with the other posters - the US Attorney vacancy was a mess but we ended up with a good replacement in Marty Jackley.

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