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A series of recent staff changes in the office of Southern District U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White are unrelated to the change to a Republican administration in Washington, D.C., but instead are triggered by professional or personal reasons, according to the prosecutors who have moved on to new jobs. “Unlike a lot of government offices around the country, [the U.S. Attorney's Office] is pretty much a revolving door type of place and people don’t leave because of a change of administration,” said James L. Cott, a former deputy chief of White’s Civil Division who is now associate director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Diogenes P. Kekatos, former chief of the Immigration Unit in the Southern District, left the office in December to handle complex litigation for the law firm Seeger Weiss in Manhattan. For Kekatos “it was basically time to move on after 14 years” working for the government, he said. “I don’t believe the [change in administrations] affects the line assistants or even the unit chiefs,” he said. Cott’s replacement as deputy chief of the Civil Division is Sara L. Shudofsky, a former chief of the Civil Rights Unit who came to the office 10 years ago after a stint as an associate at Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler. As deputy chief of the 50-lawyer Civil Division, Shudofsky will oversee the litigation practice and strategy of about 17 lawyers. Kathy S. Marks was selected to take on the job of chief of the Immigration Unit of the Civil Division after the departure of Kekatos. Marks was an associate at Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg, and also at Golenbock & Barell before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office nine years ago. Christine H. Chung has been named chief of appeals for the Criminal Division. Chung, also a nine-year veteran, was named to replace Ira M. Feinberg, who left in November to become a partner at the New York office of Hogan & Hartson. Sheila M. Gowan is the new Health Care Fraud Coordinator for the Civil Division. Gowan, who was an associate at Proskauer Rose before she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney five years ago, fills the shoes of Deborah Y. Yeoh, who now has the dual titles of affirmative civil enforcement coordinator and senior litigation counsel for the Civil Division. Neil M. Corwin is the new chief of the Civil Rights Unit. Corwin began his legal career as clerk for U.S. District Judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr. in Massachusetts, and served as an associate at Hogan & Hartson as well as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in New York City before joining White’s team five years ago. PROFESSIONAL GOALS Former Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney James J. Benjamin agrees that shifts in the U.S. Attorney’s Office are a common occurrence and are made for professional rather than political reasons. After five years with the government, Benjamin started a new job three weeks ago at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where he will specialize in white-collar criminal and civil litigation along with the former chief of the Narcotics Unit, Richard Zabel. “In my case, it was purely personal considerations with my family,” Benjamin said. “And it was really more fortuitous than anything else.” Benjamin, like Cott and Kakatos, said there is no connection between the changing of the guard in Washington, D.C., and the decision of some individuals to leave the government for private practice. “I don’t know what the statistics are, but people generally stay with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for five or six years,” Cott said, ” … and you will find that many of the people who have been in the office longer than that move on for a variety of reasons, such as financial reasons.” There has been speculation that the Bush Administration may be contemplating changes for U.S. Attorneys in districts throughout the country, and looking to replace Democratic prosecutors with Republicans. But spokesmen for the New York State’s four U.S. Attorneys, White, Loretta Lynch in the Eastern District, Denise E. O’Donnell in the Western District and Daniel J. French in the Northern District, or the U.S. Attorneys themselves, say there has been no indication yet that there will be a massive changing of the guard.

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