Jenny Durkan

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Jenny Durkan
Jenny Durkan.jpg
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington
In office
October 1, 2009 – September 30, 2014
Appointed by Barack Obama
Preceded by John McKay
Succeeded by Annette Hayes (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1958-05-19) May 19, 1958 (age 58)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Domestic partner Dana Garvey
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
University of Washington, Seattle

Jenny Anne Durkan (born May 19, 1958) is an American lawyer from Seattle, Washington who served as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington from October 2009 through September 2014.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Durkan grew up in Issaquah, Washington and attended a private Catholic girls school.[2] She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1980. After graduating from Notre Dame, she moved to an Inuit fishing village on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, where she taught English and coached a girls basketball team.[2]

Durkan earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law in 1985.[3] "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."'[2]

Professional career[edit]

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.[2]

In 1991, Durkan joined the law firm of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender.[2] She 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 1997–2000 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.[4] She later helped create a specialized drug program in the federal courts in Western Washington.[5]

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.[6] 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.[6][7]

After rejoining the Schroeter law firm, Durkan became the lawyer for Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.[8] In 1997, Durkan set up her own firm.[3]

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. She served on the non-profit board of the Center for Women and Democracy from 2000–09, as a founding Board Member for the Seattle Police Foundation from 2002–04, 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.[4]

In January 2015 Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan announced that Durkan would join the firm and head a Seattle office specializing in internet and online security issues.[9]

Work as a United States Attorney[edit]

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).[5]

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.[10][11]

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.[4] 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,[12] skimming[13] and identity theft.[14]

Durkan 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.[15][16]

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.[17][18]

As U.S. Attorney, Durkan has used the federal law against felons possessing firearms to crack down on career criminals in Western Washington.[19] Cases referred for felons-with-guns charges increased 45 percent in the past three years compared with the previous three years.[20]

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 weapons confiscations.[21][22]

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.[18] 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.[23]

United States Attorney General speculation[edit]

In September 2014, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intention to step down, Durkan was widely discussed as a potential candidate to be the next United States Attorney General.[24][25][26][27] Holder commented, re Durkan's service as U.S. Attorney, that: “[o]ver the years, she has demonstrated remarkable skill in guiding complex litigation, fostering interagency coordination, and combating a wide range of criminal activities. Jenny has been an exceptional leader in the Justice Department’s fight against cyber-crime and our work to protect the civil rights of all Americans."[28]

Personal life[edit]

A member of a prominent political family, Durkan has close ties to many of the state's leading Democrats, including Governor Christine Gregoire.[29] 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.[29][30]

Durkan is lesbian. She and her partner, Dana Garvey, live in Seattle and have two sons.[29][31] 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.[32]


  1. ^ Jerry Markon and Juliet Eilperin (September 25, 2014). "Attorney General Eric Holder to Step Down," Washington Post
  2. ^ a b c d e Conklin, Ellis E. (August 10, 1992). "Score 2 for the defense; Attorneys compile winning record as firm's 'dynamic duo'". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. C1. 
  3. ^ a b Callaghan, Peter. "Obama names Jenny Durkan U.S. Attorney for Western District", The News Tribune, May 15, 2009. Archived September 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ a b c "Meet the U.S. Attorney". Retrieved March 11, 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "meetjenny" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ a b "Seattle gets specialized federal drug court", Seattle Times, December 13, 2012. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "seattletimes" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ a b Postman, David (February 13, 1995). "Lowry's chief lawyer resigns after long meeting with boss – Durkan cites recent events as factor". Seattle Times. p. A1. 
  7. ^ George, Kathy; David Paulson (February 14, 1995). "Attorney to Lowry abruptly resigns". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. A1. 
  8. ^ Bjorhus, Jennifer (April 26, 1996). "Gregoire is focus of state inquiry – links to law firm under investigation". Seattle Times. p. B3. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Senate confirms Durkan as U.S. Attorney", Seattle Post Intelligencer, September 29, 2009.
  11. ^ "United States Attorney's Office – Western District of Washington". Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  12. ^ [1] "Dutch Citizen Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison For Computer Hacking Scheme That Stole And Sold Credit Card Info", U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, February 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "Oh, the Irony: Identity Theft Prosecutor Is Hacked", Time (magazine), September 8, 2011.
  14. ^ "Computer Crime & Internet Fraud Press Releases", U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, February 1, 2013.
  15. ^ Watson, Kendall (August 22, 2012). "U.S. Attorney's Office Puts Spotlight on Internet Safety". Mercer Island Patch. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  16. ^ Byron, Linda (August 20, 2012). "School year starts with warning about Internet safety". King 5 News. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Plea deal reached in plot to attack Seattle military station", Seattle Times, December 6, 2012.
  18. ^ a b "2012 Report to the Community", U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, February 5, 2013
  19. ^ Carter, Mike (June 18, 2012). "U.S. attorney to Seattle gun criminals: 'You will do federal time'". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ Carter, Mike; Justin Mayor (December 22, 2012). "Prosecutors here cracking down on felons with guns". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer (October 23, 2012). "Gang, drug, firearms investigation leads to 33 arrests". Seattle Times. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Followup: How 'Operation Center of Attention' plan sprung from White Center community concerns". White Center Now. October 22, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  23. ^ Pulkkinen, Levi (December 16, 2011). "Feds: Seattle police show 'pattern of excessive force'". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ Kane, Paul. "Attorney general confirmation process is fractious even before it's begun". Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Who Could Replace Eric Holder as Attorney General?". Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  26. ^ Geidner, Chris. "The Lesbian who could be AG". Buzzfeed. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  27. ^ Lavender, Paige. "Eric Holder's Successor Could Be One Of These People". HuffPost. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Report: Former U.S. Attorney in Seattle Jenny Durkan a possible choice to replace Holder". Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c "Obama nominates Durkan as Seattle U.S. attorney", Seattle Times, May 15, 2009.
  30. ^ "Obituaries in the news". Associated Press. May 31, 2005. 
  31. ^ Godden, Jean (August 13, 1997). "Dog House Sign Finds A New Home". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 7, 2009. 
  32. ^ Song, Kyung M. (June 21, 2010). "Coming out helps lessen others' fears, says U.S. Attorney Durkan". Seattle Times. Retrieved June 22, 2010. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
John McKay
U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington
Succeeded by
Annette Hayes (Acting)