Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
On the same day a federal judge issued a scathing ruling blasting federal prosecutors and former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten for their handling of the Danziger Bridge case, the Senate officially confirmed Letten’s replacement – attorney Kenneth Polite.
Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office confirmed that Polite had won full, unanimous Senate approval. Last Thursday, Polite’s nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Polite is a New Orleans native who has worked as a defense attorney, corporate attorney and former New York City assistant U.S. Attorney. He earned the recommendation of President Barack Obama and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., also supported Polite's nomination.
"I'm confident that the people of the Eastern District will be well served by the leadership of Kenneth Polite," Landrieu said in a statement. "He is a smart, caring and inspirational leader who will bring integrity and passion to this important work."
Polite’s confirmation on Tuesday came as Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted retrials in one of the most significant cases handled by the local U.S. Attorney’s office – the Danziger Bridge shootings case. Engelhardt slammed prosecutors for what he called“grotesque prosecutorial misconduct,” including the online commenting scandal which brought down Letten and his top assistant, Jan Mann.
Dana Boente, a veteran federal prosecutor who served as the first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2007, has been serving as the interim New Orleans U.S. Attorney. It is not clear how soon Polite will take over the office, now that he has won full Senate confirmation.
In the statement from Landrieu, Polite said he is grateful for the opportunity.
"This is a responsibility that I take seriously. As I begin my service, I commit...that I will be tireless in my efforts to fight crime and root out corruption. I thank Presiden Obama for nominating me and Sen. Landrieu for her recommendation and unwavering support throughout this process."
Polite is currently an attorney with Liskow and Lewis. Prior to joining that firm, he served as an attorney in private practice in New York, as well as a federal prosecutor there, handling federal criminal cases including bribery, extortion, drug trafficking, money laundering and identity theft crimes.
Born to teenage parents at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Polite is a De La Salle High School graduate with degrees from Harvard University and Georgetown University law school.