BSM parent becomes new US District Attorney

Amelia Raether

After Rachel Paulose’s resignation, the position of United States District Attorney was unfilled until First Assistant to the District Attorney and BSM parent Frank Magill was named her successor. Father of seventh grader Liza Magill, Frank Magill, being the second-in-command, has taken over her job for the time being.

“I’m really excited about it, but I view it as a big challenge. What I want to do is just keep the office on track, continue to do the good work we’ve been doing and pursue the priorities of the Department of Justice,” Magill said.

Being the acting U.S. District Attorney, Magill has two functions: first, to be the chief federal prosecutor for the district, prosecuting federal crime violations in Minnesota, and second, to represent the United States in civil cases, whether the U.S. is the defendant or prosecutor.

Magill started as prosecutor in the criminal division, trying cases involving drugs, bank robberies, gun crimes, immigration, and white-collar crimes. He then became the chief of the white-collar crime section, dealing with crimes involving people of high standing, and in June of 2007, he became the first assistant. “I was involved in both the legal and criminal side, but also on the administrative side, managing the budget,” he said.

“As the U.S. Attorney, I oversee all of that. I’m more of the public face of the office, and I serve as a liaison with many state and local law enforcement officers, sheriffs, prosecutors, and attorneys,” Magill said.

Each state has multiple state attorneys, and only one for each district. Minnesota is a district in itself, so Magill deals with cases all over the state. However, the district attorney deals with crimes that cross state lines, unlike the state attorneys.

“On the federal level, it’s more crimes that have an effect on interstate commerce, like narcotics, bank robberies, immigration, and fraud,” Magill said. However, Magill’s position is only temporary. “An actual U.S. Attorney must be approved by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and so I’m just an acting U.S. Attorney,” he said.

After 210 days, the Department of Justice can, and most likely will, name Magill as an Interim U.S. Attorney for another 180 days. After that the District Court Judges can renew his title until there is a Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed attorney to take his place.

“I think if things go well, and the Department of Justice and the judges make me the interim attorney, I could hold this position until there is a Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed attorney,” he said.

During Bush’s first Presidential election, Bush appointed former District Attorney Tom Heffelfinger 10 months after his election. Using this same time frame, Magill could hold this position through September of 2009.

“Typically, the Presidential candidate has someone in mind to be the District Attorney when they are voted into office, so it’s unlikely that I will continue after that time period,” he said.

“My plans and goals are to continue to vigorously enforce federal criminal laws and follow the Department of Justice’s six priority areas, and to prosecute on behalf of the United States,” he said. “There were some morale issues in our office and in the Department of Justice nationwide, and so another of my goals as U.S. Attorney is to correct the issues within the office to improve morale,” he added.

“I’m excited, it’s a big challenge; running an office of 100 people with a $10 million budget is quite a challenging task, and being the chief federal law enforcement officer in the district, there is a lot of responsibility that comes along with that position,” Magill said.