White House begins vetting U.S. Attorney candidates for Southern District of Illinois

Amelia Flood Oct. 1, 2009, 5:00am

Another step in the process to fill the vacant U.S. Attorney's seat in the Southern District of Illinois is under way, Sen. Richard Durbin's office said Thursday.

According to Durbin spokesman Joseph Shoemaker, the White House has begun the vetting process for the two candidates for the job, current temporary U.S. Attorney A. Courtney Cox and Stephen Wigginton.

Shoemaker said that a nominee will likely be named before the end of the year.

"My hope," Shoemaker said, "is that we'll have one by Thanksgiving."

Cox and Wigginton's names were submitted to the White House along with candidates for U.S. marshal in the Southern District in July.

The White House began the vetting process at the start of September, Shoemaker said.

Cox has been serving as the Southern District's interim U.S. Attorney since November 2007 when he was appointed to the role. A past president of the Franklin County Bar Association, Cox was in private practice from 1984 until his appointment at a Benton law firm, Hart & Hart.

Wigginton has served in a variety of positions in the St. Louis and Metro East areas. From 1990 to 1992, he served as a criminal prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office.

He worked as a litigator in Belleville and St. Louis, has been a part-time prosecutor in Madison County and is a partner in the law firm, Weilmuenster & Wigginton in Belleville since 2000. He has been honored in the past by the Illinois State Bar Association and Illinois Trial Lawyers' Association for his pro bono work.

In the search, Durbin, a Democrat, formed three bi-partisan screening committees to come up with candidates.

Composed of 22 members, the search committees started their work in April 2009. They reviewed 150 applications for the roles, according to a press release from Durbin's office.

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