United States Attorney

United States Attorney

Federal executive officer whose principal responsibility is to prosecute violations of federal civil and criminal law. The position of United States Attorney was established by the Judiciary (Judicial Personnel issue) Act of 1789. A U.S. attorney is appointed to a four-year term by the president with Senate confirmation required. Each federal judicial district has one U.S. attorney, who is aided by a number of assistant U.S. attorneys. In addition to prosecuting criminal cases, U.S. attorneys and their assistants defend the interests of the United States in federal district court. U.S. attorneys have considerable discretion in determining which criminal cases to prosecute and which civil cases to settle or pursue to trial. As a result, the U.S. attorney has substantial impact on the docket of the U.S. district courts.

See Also

Attorney General of the United States (Judicial Personnel issue) (Judicial Personnel issue) Discretion (Judicial Personnel issue) Prosecuting Attorney (Judicial Personnel issue).

Analysis and Relevance

A U.S. attorney is usually appointed as a political reward. Virtually all the lawyers appointed to the positions are members of the president’s party. While the terms are four years, U.S. attorneys may be reappointed or removed by a president at any time. When presidential administrations change, U.S. attorneys typically resign their positions so the incoming president may appoint a full compliment of new U.S. attorneys. The U.S. attorneys are tightly linked to the Attorney General of the United States ( U.S.) and the Justice Department. U.S. attorneys function under the general supervision of the attorney general, and all assistant U.S. attorneys are appointed by the attorney general although the U.S. attorney typically forwards the names of his or her preferences for formal ratification. It is through the supervisory function of the attorney general that similar performance objectives are established for all U.S. attorneys. Although federal and state jurisdictions are generally separate, the U.S. attorney provides linkage to state and local law enforcement authorities in those few areas where federal and state criminal law overlaps. Service as a U.S. attorney is often a stepping-stone to a federal judgeship.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of United States Attorney from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

United States Attorney Meaning in Law Enforcement

The chief legal officer for the United States government in each federal district.

United States Attorney Background

United States Attorney: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about United States Attorney. This part provides references, in relation to United States Attorney, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about United States Attorney by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about United States Attorney and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about United States Attorney or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to United States Attorney and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting United States Attorney. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about United States Attorney should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to United States Attorney when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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