|U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington|
October 1, 2009
|Appointed by||Barack Obama|
|Preceded by||John L. McKay|
May 19, 1958 |
|Domestic partner||Dana Garvey|
|Alma mater||Notre Dame
UW School of Law
Early life and education
Durkan grew up in Issaquah, Washington and attended a private Catholic girls school. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. After graduating from Notre Dame, Durkan moved to an Eskimo fishing village on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, where she taught English and coached a girls basketball team.
Durkan earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1985. "I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 5 years old," she told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1992. "When I graduated from law school, my mother said, 'Finally someone is going to pay you to argue."'
Immediately upon graduating from law school in 1985, Durkan began her legal career at the Foster, Pepper & Shefelman law firm as a civil litigator, where she spent two years. She then joined the large law firm of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.
In 1991, Durkan joined the law firm of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender. Ms. Durkan served on the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission from 1993 to 1996. She served as the first Citizen Observer on the Seattle Police Firearms Review Board from 1997 to 2000 and two Seattle mayors asked her to serve on Citizen Review Committees for the Seattle Police Department. She also played an advisory role on the establishment of the King County Drug Court and the Mental Health Court. Durkan later was instrumental in creating a specialized drug program in the federal courts in Western Washington.
In September 1994, Durkan left the Schroeter law firm to join the staff of then-Washington Gov. Mike Lowry as his lawyer and political adviser. In February of the following year, Durkan resigned and returned to the Schroeter law firm after allegations of sexual harassment against Lowry by one of his top aides, former press aide Susanne Albright.
In 1997, Durkan set up her own firm, the Law Offices of Jenny Durkan.
Durkan is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and maintains an AV rating from Martindale Hubbel. She served a three-year term on the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors. She served on the Merit Selection Committee for the United States District Court, helping select the candidates for appointment to seven vacancies in the federal judiciary in the Western District of Washington. Ms. Durkan’s civic involvement also includes serving on the non-profit board of the Center for Women and Democracy from 2000 to 2009, as a founding Board Member for the Seattle Police Foundation from 2002 to 2004, and as the Chair of the Washington State Attorney General’s Task Force on Consumer Privacy which resulted in legislation that became a national model for identity theft protections.
Work as a United States Attorney
In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Durkan to be the U.S Attorney for the Western District of Washington, which covers 19 counties and is home to 4.6 million people (78% of the state's population). She was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on September 29, 2009 and was sworn in on October 1 by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik.
Upon taking office, Durkan was appointed to serve on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Attorney General on policy, management, and operational issues at the Department of Justice. She is also chair of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement. Durkan has played a leading role in prosecuting cybercrimes, including hacking, skimming and identity theft. Durkan also worked with the public schools to ensure internet safety tips for parents and kids were sent home with kids at the beginning of the school year.
Durkan has focused on terrorism and national security issues, including the prosecution of two men who plotted to blow up a military recruitment facility in Seattle. Recognizing the emerging threat posed by cyber terrorists, Durkan worked with Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco and DOJ's Criminal DIvision and National Security Divisions to help launch a national network. This network ensures that every United States Attorney’s office has a designated and trained attorney to deal with any national security cyber event. Each of these lawyers works closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to monitor and assess cyber threats in their District and to work with private and public industries that may be targets of the threats. Cyber space respects no national or state boundaries. Thus, a key function of the network will also be to ensure that information relating to cyber threats is brought together so it can be assessed in its entirety.
As U.S. Attorney, Durkan has used the federal law against felons possessing firearms to crack down on career criminals in Western Washington. Cases referred for felons-with-guns charges increased 45 percent in the past three years compared with the previous three years under the Bush administration.
Durkan has pushed "hot spot" initiatives in high-crime areas to address drug and gun sales. These intensive investigations and law enforcement operations resulted in dozens of arrests and guns off the streets.
While U.S. Attorney, Durkan created a Civil Rights Department in the office. It coordinates a variety of civil rights cases and outreach, including a number of cases on behalf of returning veterans. She also has helped push police reform efforts in the Seattle Police Department after a Department of Justice investigation found a pattern and practice of excessive use of force.
A member of a prominent political family, Durkan has close ties to many of the state's leading Democrats, including Governor Christine Gregoire. She is a daughter of Martin Durkan, a former member of the Washington State Senate who twice—in 1968 and 1972—was a candidate for Governor of Washington but lost both times in the Democratic primaries.
Durkan is a lesbian. She and her partner, Dana Garvey, live in Seattle and have two sons. She was the first openly gay U.S. Attorney and now serves as one of four, alongside Anne Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina, Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, and Robert L. Pitman of the Western District of Texas.
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