DLA Piper partner, Matthew Graves to lead D.C. Federal Prosecutor's office as Biden announces first U.S. attorney picks

President Joe Biden on Monday selected a DLA Piper litigation and compliance partner to run the D.C. federal prosecutor’s office, part of his first slate of U.S. attorney nominations.

Matthew Graves ran the fraud and public corruption section of the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office prior to joining DLA Piper in 2016. If confirmed, he will lead the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country and supervise prosecutions of the more than 500 cases tied to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including conspiracy cases against groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.

The Jan. 6 investigation has been described as the largest criminal probe in U.S. history and many cases are expected to be resolved with guilty pleas in the coming months. Still, several are likely to head to trial.

Channing Phillips, who led the office during the Obama administration, is currently the acting U.S. attorney.

“We congratulate Matt on his nomination as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia,” DLA Piper said in a statement. “While he will certainly be missed at the firm, we cannot think of a better choice for this important position. It is well deserved and Matt’s skills as a trial lawyer, in addition to his professionalism, integrity and commitment to his clients, will serve him and the district well. We thank him for all of his contributions to DLA Piper and wish him the best.”

Graves was a trial attorney in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2007 to 2016, where he handled sanctions and foreign bribery cases as well as the prosecution of former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for misuse of campaign funds.

Prior to joining the federal prosecutor’s office, he was an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. A graduate of Yale Law School, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts of the District of Columbia.

Graves was part of Biden’s first wave of nominations to head the 93 U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide. The president announced eight nominees Monday.

“These individuals—many of whom are historic firsts—were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the White House said in a statement, noting that confirming U.S. attorney nominees was key to the administration’s strategy to curb an increase in gun violence.

Here are the other seven nominees:

- Erek Barron, District of Maryland. Barron is a partner at Whiteford Taylor & Preston, where his practice focuses on business litigation and crisis management. He has also been a member of the Maryland legislature since 2015, and he worked with then-Sen. Biden as counsel and policy adviser to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs. He would be the first Black U.S. attorney for the Maryland District.

- Nicholas Brown, Western District of Washington. Brown is a litigation partner at the Seattle-based Pacifica Law Group. He previously served as general counsel to Gov. Jay Inslee and worked as an AUSA in the district.

- Clifford Johnson, Northern District of Indiana. Johnson is a longtime AUSA in the district, joining in 1986. He served briefly as acting U.S. attorney in 2017.

- Zachary Myers, Southern District of Indiana. Myers has been an AUSA in the Maryland District since 2014, most recently serving as cybercrime counsel. He worked previously in the Southern District of Indiana and was an attorney at the Indianapolis law firm then known as Baker & Daniels.

- Rachael Rollins, District of Massachusetts. Rollins is a local district attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, elected in 2018. She previously served as chief legal counsel to the Massachusetts Port Authority and general counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

- Trini Ross, Western District of New York. Ross has served as director of investigations in the legal division of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General since 2018. She was previously an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, where she worked as senior litigation counsel and chief of the anti-fraud and corruption section. Ross is also an adjunct professor at The State University of New York, at Buffalo School of Law.

- Vanessa Waldref, Eastern District of Washington. Waldref has been a trial attorney with the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division since last year. She was previously an AUSA in the Eastern District.