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Newly Confirmed US Attorney for Cleveland Abruptly Bows Out (1)

May 18, 2022, 3:35 PMUpdated: May 18, 2022, 9:26 PM

Marisa Darden withdrew as the Cleveland-based US attorney to “prioritize family,” an unusual move three weeks after receiving Senate confirmation as the first Black woman to lead the Northern Ohio district.

Darden, who had not yet assumed office, said Tuesday she’ll resume her private practice, without elaborating on her personal circumstances that drove the decision. She’s been a partner at Squire Patton Boggs since 2019.

“After a great deal of soul searching, prayer, conversations with family and consultation with trusted colleagues, it is with a heavy heart that, effective immediately, I am withdrawing my name from consideration to be the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio,” Darden said in a prepared statement.

“In the midst of a nearly 16-month nomination and confirmation process during a global pandemic, real life happens,” she added. “If there is anything this time has taught me, it is the importance of prioritizing family.”

The surprise decision came just after her historic appointment was celebrated on the Senate floor by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. Brown had just worked to resolve a months-long blockade from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., that stalled the confirmation of all DOJ nominees, including multiple other chief prosecutor selections.

Now, Brown and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, must work to find a new pick, with approval from the White House and DOJ, for a large metropolitan region.

“Ms. Darden made a personal decision and I fully support and respect her choice,” Brown said in a statement. “It is imperative that the 6 million people who call the Northern District of Ohio home have a Senate-confirmed US Attorney. Furthermore, the women and men who make up the US Attorney’s office deserve the leadership and guidance that only a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney can provide.”

“We are already looking,” Brown said Wednesday when asked about the search for a replacement. “We have a handful of people in mind. We want to find somebody that’s already been vetted through a process that we can be confident in and get a name to the president as quickly as we can.”

The withdrawal adds Ohio to the list of more than 40 US attorney openings—out of 93 slots—awaiting a nominee from President Joe Biden.

—With assistance from Madison Alder.

(Updated with comment from Brown in eighth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com