VOL. 132 | NO. 185 | Monday, September 18, 2017
Senate Confirms Dunavant As U.S. Attorney
By Bill Dries
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Tipton County prosecutor Mike Dunavant as the new U.S. attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, based in Memphis with offices in Jackson, Tennessee.
Dunavant, the elected district attorney general for the 25th Judicial District covering Tipton, Fayette, Hardeman, Lauderdale and McNairy counties, was nominated by President Donald Trump in June on a recommendation from U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Veteran federal prosecutor Larry Laurenzi has been acting U.S. attorney since Ed Stanton resigned to join the Memphis office of the Butler Snow law firm.
The Senate vote on Thursday, Sept. 14, to confirm Dunavant creates a vacancy for district attorney general to be filled by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
Dunavant was elected to a second eight-year term of office in 2014. He was first elected district attorney general in 2006 after having a private law practice for 11 years, primarily in criminal defense, including death penalty cases.
A native of Ripley, Tennessee, Dunavant has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and earned his law degree at the University of Mississippi.
U.S. Rep. David Kustoff of Germantown, who is a former U.S. attorney for the Western District, praised Dunavant’s confirmation.
“I could not think of a more fitting role for Mike, as he is a lifelong West Tennessean and a proven public servant,” Kustoff said in a written statement. He also praised Laurenzi, who has served as acting U.S. attorney several times during the change in parties occupying the White House.
Still pending in the Senate are the presidential nominations of state Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris and former federal prosecutor Tommy Parker as U.S. district judges for the Western District of Tennessee.
The timing of the Senate vote on Norris will determine whether there will be a special election to fill his state Senate seat. If Norris is confirmed and resigns from the state Legislature before Nov. 6, there will be a special election, according to Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips. If he is confirmed and resigns from the Legislature on Nov. 6 or after, the state Senate seat goes on the ballot during a regularly scheduled election in 2018, with the Shelby County Commission appointing someone to fill the seat until then.