Danny Williams Sr. takes oath of office as new U.S. attorney in Oklahoma
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 15, 2012
12/15/12 at 7:29 AM
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Tulsa on Friday to celebrate the latest achievement in the remarkable career of Northern District of Oklahoma U.S. Attorney Danny Williams Sr., Holder said.
Williams has been the top prosecutor in the Tulsa-based district for more than four months. His formal swearing-in ceremony at the Tulsa Convention Center on Friday was a chance for legal luminaries to praise him before a crowd filled with family, friends and colleagues.
Holder vowed to provide Williams with the "unwavering support" of the Department of Justice's senior leadership as Williams continues to work at a job that Holder said "in many ways has never been more difficult but has never been more important."
The attorney general said prosecutors have to make difficult decisions while dealing with "sophisticated, evolving threats" and "thorny legal questions."
On a day darkened by a deadly school shooting in Connecticut, Holder said the Department of Justice's top priority is to protect the American people. He said it is vital for federal prosecutors not just to win cases but also to do justice as they work to fight gun-, gang- and drug-fueled violence and other crimes.
Williams said that although his office will continue to prosecute cases aggressively, he realizes that the name of his agency is the "Department of Justice and not the Department of Prosecution."
The U.S. attorney position for the Northern District of Oklahoma had been the last one still in limbo after the turnover in federal administrations that followed the 2008 presidential election.
The Obama administration and Oklahoma's two Republican senators had been unable to agree on a nominee until Williams' name was put forward about nine months ago.
Williams was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 2 and was informally sworn in the following week, which allowed him to begin his duties.
It was a bit of a gamble on Williams' part to take the job. U.S. attorney posts typically change if a different political party takes control of the White House, so there was a distinct possibility that Williams' tenure would have been brief if Republican candidate Mitt Romney had defeated President Barack Obama last month.
Instead, Williams now has at least four years to fill a role that he said he once thought was out of his reach.
Tulsa County District Judge Carlos Chappelle, who is Williams' uncle, said he always knew there was "something special" about Williams.
After he graduated from John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Mound Bayou, Miss., in 1984, Williams spent a summer in Tulsa watching Chappelle - then an attorney in the private sector - practice in local courtrooms.
That pivotal summer 28 years ago gave Williams "a taste of what it's like to be a lawyer," Chappelle told those assembled Friday. The judge said it wasn't long until Williams "got the bug" to join the legal profession.
Williams graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans in 1988 and from the University of Tulsa's College of Law in 1991. He worked as a Tulsa County assistant district attorney before shifting in 1993 to private practice, where he remained for nearly 20 years with three different firms.
Tulsa County District Judge Tom Gillert told the crowd Friday that Williams has "the right stuff to be a force of change."
Original Print Headline: New U.S. attorney sworn in
David Harper 918-581-8359
Danny Williams (left), the new U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, is formally sworn in by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell as Williams' wife, Wendy Williams, stands with him at the Tulsa Convention Center on Friday. MATT BARNARD/ Tulsa World
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addresses those gathered Friday for the formal swearing-in of Danny Williams as the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
Danny Williams (right) sits with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a ceremony for Williams at the Tulsa Convention Center on Friday. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World