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April 1, 2009

Reps. Velázquez and Gutierrez Call for New Direction in Puerto Rico’s U.S. Attorneys Office

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to restore trust and confidence in the federal legal system through the appointment of new U.S. Attorneys.  In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Congresswoman was joined by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in urging an expedited timeline for the recommendation and appointment of a replacement for the District of Puerto Rico.

“The Department of Justice and the President have an opportunity to restore confidence in the independence and integrity of the U.S. Attorneys offices throughout the United States.  Puerto Rico should not be forgotten in this process and deserves nothing less than an expedited process to appoint a new U.S. Attorney,” Velázquez said.

The following is the text of the letter:  

March 27, 2009

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We are writing to you regarding the interim status of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico and to request that, as you consider appointing new U.S. Attorneys for all federal districts, you please pay particular consideration to the new appointment for Puerto Rico.

In the coming weeks, your office will be making recommendations to President Obama regarding appointments to all U.S. Attorneys offices.  We understand that in addition to making this difficult task, you must also weigh in the need to restore prestige and integrity to a department that has endured the often unscrupulous decisions of the previous administration.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for the District of Puerto Rico was not immune to the past administration's damaged prestige.  For this reason, we respectfully suggest that the best new candidate for the job should be able to restore the confidence and trust in the position by committing to the rule of law and demonstrating restraint, exercising his or her authority without passion or prejudice.  We remain concerned that the Puerto Rico media and a large section of the population in Puerto Rico see the U.S. Attorneys Office taking actions that are politically driven, ill-informed and unfair.  We also believe that this negative opinion has diminished the public’s confidence in the legal system.    

Therefore, we request that your office recommend to the President an expedited process to appoint new U.S. Attorneys, with particular attention to the District of Puerto Rico.  The appointment of new U.S. attorneys will go a long way in restoring the image and credibility of the Department of Justice.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding this important matter.

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