The Bush administration has asked San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam, known for her high-profile prosecutions of politicians and corporate executives, to resign, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Lam, a 2002 Bush appointee, was targeted because of job performance issues – in particular that she failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority. Lam has had high-profile successes during her tenure, such as the Randy “Duke” Cunningham bribery case -but she alienated herself from bosses because she is outspoken and independent.
When she took over, Lam made it clear she planned to focus less on low-level smuggling cases in favor of public corruption and white collar crime, which would mean fewer but more significant prosecutions. “It’s virtually unprecedented to fire a U.S. Attorney absent some misconduct in office,” said criminal defense attorney Michael Attanasio, a former federal prosecutor. Lam, 47, has been criticized by members of the Border Patrol agents union and by members of Congress. Under Lam, the overall number of prosecutions has plummeted. The year before she took over, local federal prosecutors filed 5,266 cases; the numbere declined to 3,261 in 2005, according to statistics compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Lam is one of several U.S. Attorneys who have resigned under pressure or been told to leave in recent months.