Judges approve Joseph Harrington as Eastern Washington's top federal prosecutor

For more than a year, JOSEPH HARRINGTON has filled in as the "acting" and "interim" U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Last week, Harrington was officially appointed as Eastern Washington's top federal prosecutor after President Donald Trump failed to submit a nomination. Instead, Harrington was appointed by U.S. District Court judges. He will have the job unless Trump submits a nominee and that person is confirmed by the Senate.

"I look forward to continuing to work with the outstanding, dedicated assistant U.S. attorneys and staff in this office," Harrington says in a statement.

Harrington began working in the U.S. attorney's office in 1990, holding various positions until March 2017, when Trump called for the resignations of 46 top federal prosecutors appointed under the Obama administration, including former U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby, who is now Spokane's city attorney.

"I think Joe is an excellent person to serve in that role," Ormsby says. "He's a competent professional, a very good lawyer and he knows the office and the job very well."

In January, with no nomination from Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Harrington as "interim" U.S. attorney. That status was good for 120 days, after which time the appointment rested with the District Court judges.

When Trump initially called for Ormsby's resignation, at least three local jurists raised their hand for the job: Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, Spokane County District Court Judge Vance Peterson and former U.S. Attorney Bill Hyslop.

During his 28-year career, Harrington has helped prosecute former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson, who used excessive force and lied to investigators in the death of a mentally disabled janitor, Otto Zehm. Harrington was also involved in the case against Kevin Harpham, a white-supremacist, who in 2011 planted a bomb along the parade route for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March.

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About The Author

Mitch Ryals

Mitch covers cops, crime and courts for the Inlander. He moved to Spokane in 2015 from his hometown of St. Louis, and is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He likes bikes, beer and baseball. And coffee. He dislikes lemon candy, close-mindedness and liars. And temperatures below 40 degrees.