Intelligence Report: U.S. Judge Virginia Kendall is a finalist for federal prosecutor

September 26, 2012 10:00:00 PM PDT
The selection process is well under way to replace U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who stepped down in June.

In this Intelligence Report: The federal judge who is a leading candidate for the job and why her application has upset the criminal docket.

The process is supposed to be confidential, but on Tuesday, the I-Team learned that district court Judge Virginia Kendall had applied for the federal prosecutor's position.

The deadline for applying was August 31, and that raised some legal and ethical issues, according to attorneys. How could Judge Kendall continue to preside over cases brought by the U.S. attorney when she had applied for the U.S. attorney's job?

Kendall has been a highly regarded federal judge since 2006 and is a former assistant federal prosecutor herself.

As do most on the bench at the Dirksen Federal Building, the 50-year-old Judge Kendall had a full plate of criminal cases, more than three dozen prosecutions currently under way at the time she applied for the U.S. attorney's job in Northern Illinois. The job opened when longtime prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down at the end of June.

Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk appointed a six-person search committee for his replacement and began taking applications.

Judge Kendall applied by the August 31 deadline.

But, since then, Kendall also continued to hear criminal cases.

On Tuesday, when the I-Team asked Judge Kendall about that, she referred the I-Team to the Chief Judge James Holderman, who said that he has been informed by Kendall at the time she applied and that she was not violating any ethical rules by continuing to hear cases.

Thursday afternoon, the chief judge sent the I-Team this statement: "Judge Kendall has now been informed that the (search) committee desires to interview her. Although her recusal is still not required under the law, she has decided, since she is now under consideration for the position, as opposed to merely having filed an application, she would, out of an abundance of caution, voluntarily withdraw from presiding at this time."

So, all 39 of Kendall's criminal cases are being reassigned to other judges.

Judge Kendall will continue to hear the civil cases on her docket as she is interviewing for the U.S. attorney's post. Eventually, the committee and Illinois' senators will make a recommendation to the White House for official nomination.


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