U.S. Attorney in Montana protected by Patriot Act

Bill Mercer, the U.S. Attorney for Montana, is protected by a special provision in the USA Patriot Act that he had a Republican staffer insert into the legislation, The Washington Post reports.

The provision ensures that a U.S. Attorney can reside out of his or her district. In Mercer's case, it protect his job in Montana while he serves as the third-ranking Department of Justice official in Washington, D.C.

Mercer had the provision inserted on November 10, 2005, The Post reported. That same day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the chief federal judge in Montana that Mercer was not violating a law that requires U.S. Attorneys to live in the district he or she serves.

The letter was written because Judge Donald W. Molloy had openly criticized Mercer for his lack of presence in Montana. According to The Post, Mercer only spends three days a week in Montana because he is also holding down the job in DC.

Mercer recently testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Indian trust litigation. He refused to concede any liability for the Cobell case or the tribal trust cases.

Get the Story:
Residency Clause Adds Fuel To Dispute Over U.S. Attorneys (The Washington Post 5/2)

Related Stories:
Heffelfinger was a target in U.S. Attorney purge (4/27)
Sen. Coburn tells Gonzales to resign over firings (4/20)
Attorney firings reviewed at Senate hearing (4/20)
Senate panel moves Gonzales testimony to Thursday (4/17)
House committee hits Gonzales with first subpoena (4/11)
Indian Country crime an issue in US Attorney firing (4/2)
Opinion: Fired U.S. Attorney helped Michigan tribes (3/30)
Documents shed light on US Attorney firings (3/20)
E-mails shed new details on US Attorney for Arizona (3/14)
Sen. Domenici hires law firm over US Attorney flap (3/8)
Ousted US Attorneys to testify before House panel (3/2)
Ousted US Attorney cites Republican pressure (3/1)
US Attorney ousted over tribal death penalty cases (2/19)
Hopi woman passed over for interim US Attorney (2/1)
Hopi woman touted as next US Attorney for Arizona (1/29)
Mother Jones: Navajo Nation debates death penalty (1/18)
Bush urged to nominate Hopi woman for U.S. Attorney (01/05)
First federal court trial held on Navajo Nation (12/14)
Supreme Court bars execution of juvenile offenders (03/02)
Indian teen could face death penalty for murder (10/08)
Supreme Court to rule on juvenile executions (01/27)
Death penalty negatively impacts Natives (6/11)
Navajo president wants to revisit death penalty (05/28)
Man would be first Indian on federal death row (5/22)
Supreme Court calls for new death penalty hearing (2/26)
Report: More Indians on state death row (12/12)
The Death Penalty: Race may matter (9/27)