A U.S. Senate committee cleared the nomination of Zachary Fardon on Thursday as the next U.S. attorney in Chicago, sending it to the full Senate for a final vote.
The unanimous voice vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee comes more than 15 months after Patrick Fitzgerald stepped down from the office after a record nearly 11 years. Fardon, best known for playing a key role in the prosecution and conviction of former Gov. George Ryan, is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as next week.
Known for his even temperament, management skills and courtroom savvy, Fardon, 46, will be taking over an office that has made its mark nationally by putting crooked government officials behind bars but increasingly faces pressure to do more to help in the fight against Chicago's violent street gangs.
After the committee's vote, U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk issued a joint statement commending Fardon and making it clear they expect the violence to be a top priority.
"(Fardon's) range of experience will serve him well in a city and region as diverse and challenging as the Northern District of Illinois," Durbin said. "Once confirmed, he'll have to immediately focus on the gun violence plaguing Chicago."
Kirk said Fardon will be "a fearless leader who takes on dangerous drug gangs and continues Patrick Fitzgerald's legacy against public corruption of our elected officials."
More than 20 lawyers sought the powerful post with its 170 assistant U.S. attorneys and nearly $35 million budget.
Fardon grew up in Tennessee and graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. After a stint as a public defender in Nashville, he moved in 1997 to Chicago to work as an assistant U.S. attorney. In 2002, he became the No. 2 official in the U.S. attorney's office in Nashville — though he returned to Chicago to help prosecute Ryan during his six-month trial in 2005 and 2006.
For the last seven years, Fardon has been a partner at the Chicago law firm of Latham & Watkins.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun