Clifford Johnson was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana Wednesday morning, making him the first African American to hold the position.
“I am looking forward to working hard and furthering the office’s stated mission which is to justly and with the highest degree of excellence represent the interests of the United States of America in execution of federal laws, to advance public interest, and to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all persons,” Johnson said at the ceremony.
Chief Judge Jon DeGuilio of the Northern Indiana District Court administered the oath at the federal courthouse in Hammond.
Johnson and Zachary Myers, the nominee for U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana, were confirmed Sept. 30 by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate.
According to the office of the U.S. Attorney Northern District of Indiana, President Joe Biden signed Johnson’s commission Oct. 5. The Southern District of Indiana office said it is working through the process to get Myers installed. But to date, Myers not been sworn in.
Like Johnson, Myers will also be the first African American to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern Indiana District.
Carl Tobias, University of Richmond School of Law professor who is an expert on federal judicial selection, sees the Johnson and Myers nominations as Biden keeping his pledge to diversity the federal judiciary, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney offices across the country.
“That should be great,” Tobias said. “It’s good to have diversity.”
The law professor acknowledged Johnson and Myer may have more of a burden as they take on their new roles because they broke the color barrier. They could be under more scrutiny but, Tobias said, they have proven they have the experience and are well-qualified to be Indiana’s top federal law enforcement officers.
Johnson, a 1980 graduate of Valparaiso Law School, served more than 30 years in the Northern Indiana U.S. Attorney Office.
He was assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana from 1986 to August 2020. Previously, he had held numerous supervisory and management positions including chief of the civil division from 1997 to 2010 and twice serving as the First Assistant U.S. Attorney along with serving as the district’s Acting U.S. Attorney from March to October 2017.
Johnson started his career at a trial attorney for the employment litigation section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., from August 1980 to December 1985.
Before being confirmed as the Southern Indiana U.S. Attorney, Myers was the assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland. There he helped develop the U.S. Attorney’s Office of National Security & Cybercrime Section and served as its first cybercrime counsel.
With the confirmation of Johnson and Myers, Indiana has just one other vacancy awaiting a nomination. Judge Theresa Springmann’s seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana has been empty since January when she took senior status.
Tobias said Biden is “savvy enough” to consult with Indiana Republican Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun even though they are of the opposite party. Likely the president will want to cultivate the support of the Hoosier Senators for any potential nomination he makes to the federal bench in Indiana.