U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Monday the nomination of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins as his pick to be the next permanent US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts – a post that would include the entire state.
Currently, Acting US Attorney Nathaniel Mendell is serving as US Attorney. Rollins would have to go through extensive Congressional hearings and have to be voted in by Congress. That likely wouldn’t happen until sometime in the fall, most believe.
President Biden said her nomination, and that of seven other US Attorneys around the country, are part of larger plan nationwide to combat a crime wave that has erupted during COVID-19.
“The President has launched a comprehensive effort to take on the uptick in gun crime that has been taking place for the last 18 months—putting more cops on the beat, supporting community prevention programs, and cracking down on illegal gun trafficking. Confirming U.S. Attorneys as the chief federal law enforcement officers in their district is important for these efforts,” read the statement in the White House release on the matter. “Confirming U.S. Attorneys as the chief federal law enforcement officers in their district is important for these efforts.”
Rollins would be the first Black woman to be the Massachusetts US Attorney.
“These individuals—many of whom are historic firsts—were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the release stated further.
In a short statement on Monday night, Rollins said she was humbled to have received the nomination, which had been hinted at or postulated about since last fall.
“Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is incredibly humbled by the great honor of being nominated by President Biden to be US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts,” read the statement. “She remains focused on doing the hard work of keeping the residents of Suffolk County safe.”
Though DA Rollins has been a controversial figure across Suffolk County at times, from day one she had received strong support from Chelsea officials and residents. One of the first to jump into her corner in the 2017 election was Councillor Leo Robinson.
He said this week he was happy for her, and looks forward to her being confirmed.
“I’m very happy for DA Rollins,” he said. “It’s such an honor for her to be selected. I wish her nothing but the best and justice for all.”
Chief Brian Kyes said he was excited for DA Rollins and expected her to make a seamless transition, if approved.
“I reached out to DA Rollins Monday to personally extend my congratulations on her nomination,” he said. “We are all very excited to see her nominated by President Biden for such an incredibly important and prestigious role as the US Attorney for Massachusetts. Rachael’s qualifications, vision and leadership style should make for a seamless transition from District Attorney to US Attorney. We truly value our strong relationships with our federal law enforcement partners and behind Rachael’s leadership we look forward to continuing on that collaborative path.”
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said Rollins has a track record of transforming the legal system, and is a great choice for US Attorney.
“Congratulations to my sister in service, D.A. Rachael Rollins, on her historic nomination,” said Pressley. “Throughout her time in office, she has fought tirelessly to transform our legal system and address the hurt and harm inflicted on Black and brown communities through generations of policy violence—prioritizing racial justice, decarceration, and reimagining public safety in Massachusetts.
“She has been a true partner in our collective work to fulfill the promise of justice for all, and she is an excellent choice to serve as next U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. I applaud President Biden for nominating D.A. Rollins to this role,” she continued.
State Rep. Dan Ryan said Rollins has changed the way the county looks at prosecution, and he believes she would take that passion to the US Attorney’s office as well.
“District Attorney Rollins is an accessible public servant with a clear vision of how she would approach her position in the DA’s office,” he said. “She followed that vision with passion and vigor; forever changing the way we look at prosecution. I applaud her nomination as US Attorney as much as her successes, thus far, as District Attorney. I look forward to continue to work with DA Rollins in her current capacity and wish her well in this honorable endeavor to serve in the Biden Administration.”
Added City Manager Tom Ambrosino, “I’m very happy for DA Rollins. I expect she will make a very fine US Attorney. She was a great partner to Chelsea during her tenure.”
Rollins was elected District Attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts in 2018. She grew up in Cambridge and lived in Medford until she was elected District Attorney, living in Roxbury since taking office. Rollins served as the Chief Legal Counsel to the Massachusetts Port Authority from 2013 to 2015, and as the General Counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation from 2011 to 2013 and contemporaneously to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority from 2012 to 2013. Ms. Rollins was an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2011. From 2002 to 2006, Rollins was an attorney at Bingham McCutchen LLP, and from 1999 to 2002, she was a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. Rollins began her legal career as a clerk to Judge Frederick Brown of the Massachusetts Appeals Court from 1997 to 1998. Rollins received her LL.M. in labor and employment law from Georgetown University Law Center in 1999, her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law in 1997, and her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1994.