A House Divided Cannot Stand
J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California January 5, 2006
The Inherent Right of ALL People to Alter or Reform Their Government
The Right Upon Which All Other Rights Depend
A House Divided Cannot StandA schism has arisen in South Dakota between the federal branches of government, namely The Judiciary vs. The Executive. The issue: appointing power and control of the Office of U.S. Attorney.Interestingly in this debate is the presence of party politics on each side of the issue. The battle was instigated when a federal judge decided to appoint a new interim U.S. Attorney, however, the Bush Administration says that appointments of U.S. Attorneys are not within the prerogative of the federal courts.South Dakota judges clash with U.S. Justice Department
By DAVID KRANZ
Article Published: 01/4/06, 10:50 pmA federal judge in Sioux Falls tried to appoint Mark Meierhenry as interim U.S. Attorney in South Dakota last month.
But Judge Larry Piersols order was overruled by the Department of Justice, which put an Oklahoma lawyer in place instead.
Steven Mullins, an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, took over the office on Dec. 22.
But on Tuesday, another federal judge, Karen Schreier of Rapid City, stepped into the conflict and took the unusual step of ordering Mullins to appear in court for a hearing on his appointment.
The unique legal clash has political overtones.
Piersol, Schreier and Judge Charles Kornmann of Aberdeen were appointed by Democratic Pres. Bill Clinton. The Justice Department that oversees the U.S. Attorneys Office is under the Republican Bush administration.
Traditionally, the senator from the party in power, in this case Sen. John Thune, forwards recommendations for the U.S. attorneys job to the president. The office has been vacant for almost a year and Thune has not yet made public a recommendation.
In the interim, the post has been filled by Michelle Tapken.
In a statement filed Tuesday in an unrelated criminal case, Kornmann challenged the validity of Mullins appointment.
All of this brings into play some uncertainty, Kornmann wrote. It is entirely possible that the purported appointment of Mr. Mullins is not valid and that he has no legal authority to act as the Acting U.S. Attorney in South Dakota.
A number of court actions could be subject to challenge and may be void under some circumstances, he said. Promises to recommend a certain sentence or to possibly make a motion may not be enforceable.
For more on this story, see Thursday's Argus Leader.J.A.I.L.- Judicial Accountability Initiative Law www.jail4judges.org
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