A veteran prosecutor originally from Gary was nominated as a U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana by Democratic President Joe Biden on Monday.
If this is confirmed by the democratically controlled Senate, Clifford Johnson would make history as the first black US attorney in the district, which encompasses all of northwest Indiana and a total of 32 counties.
In a way, Johnson already holds that distinction. After the resignation of US attorney David Capp and before the appointment of US attorney Thomas Kirsch II, he served as US assistant attorney for six months in 2017.
During that time, Johnson oversaw the prosecution and conviction of Lake County Sheriff John Buncich on public corruption charges.
However, Johnson’s experience as a federal attorney goes back to 1986, when he left the civil rights department of the Department of Justice after five years to move to the US attorney’s office in Hammond as a civil assistant to the US attorney’s office.
The graduate of Gary’s Emerson High School and Valparaiso University Law School then served as director of the local civil department before becoming the first US assistant attorney in 2010. He left the office in 2020.
The White House said the President selected Johnson as a U.S. attorney because of his dedication to law enforcement, professionalism, experience, commitment to equal justice for all, and commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice.
In addition to directing law enforcement for the office, Johnson is expected to work with law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels and promote public safety throughout the Northern District of Indiana.
The president also nominated Zachary Myers as a U.S. attorney for the Indiana Southern District on Monday.
If confirmed, Myers – the son of 2020 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers – also be the first black person to run this Indianapolis-based office.
Indiana Democratic Congressmen, US MP Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, and US MP Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, issued a joint statement praising both US attorneys.
“We thank President Biden for following the delegation’s recommendation and nominating these two exemplary officials to lead the judicial system in our state,” said Mrvan and Carson.
“Zachary Myers and Clifford Johnson bring decades of legal experience and a strong commitment to the public service. We look forward to working with Senators Young and Braun to get swift confirmation of these highly qualified candidates for continued service in Indiana. “
The two US lawyers from Indiana are likely to play a central role in the federal effort to combat violent crime, as many of the weapons used in Chicago come from the state of Hoosier.
US attorneys work at the President’s discretion and are routinely replaced after a change of government.
Kirsch, a native of Schererville who became a U.S. attorney in 2017 under Republican President Donald Trump, resigned in December after the U.S. Senate upheld his appointment as judge on the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Tina Nommay has served as acting US attorney for the Northern District of Indiana since June 7, when she succeeded Gary Bell, who resigned as acting US attorney to become the district’s clerk.