While people in the New Orleans area wait to see who will fill the shoes of Jim Letten as United States Attorney, one man who knows what it’s like to leave the jobs says Letten will have plenty of options, from private practice to politics.
“I know he’s said he’s not going to seek public office, but there are a lot of people who said they’re never going to do it, and they become elected officials all of a sudden,” former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg who held the top federal prosecutor’s job in New Orleans in the early 1990s.
Thursday morning, Letten announced he was resigning effective next Tuesday. He also said he would stay on with the department briefly as an advisor to help with the transition for his interim replacement.
Many people in the room wiped away tears as Letten ended his nearly 12 year career as U.S. Attorney under two presidents and nearly 30 years with the Department of Justice.
Letten’s highest profile case may be the conviction of former governor Edwin Edwards. Letten worked as an assistant prosecutor in that case. After becoming United States Attorney, Letten oversaw prosecutions of well-known politicians like former New Orleans Councilman Oliver Thomas and former Mandeville Mayor Eddie Price.
“It is I believe the best course of action under the circumstances,” Letten said about his resignation.
The circumstances could refer to recent revelations that two of Letten’s assistants blogged about cases being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The cases could derail or delay prosecutions or even give defendants footholds for appeals.
“He’s sort of been saddled with not only individual professional actions but some of their personal activities such as blogging at home,” Rosenberg said.
“It is my plan to do something I haven’t done in a really long time, and that is to give a little back to my wife, Joanne, and to my kids,” Letten said shortly before stepping away from the microphones and into a crowd of well wishers. He did not take questions from reporters.