Past United States Attorneys
FRONT ROW: Dwayne Keyes, Herman Sillas, William B. Shubb, Francis M. Goldsberry II; BACK ROW: Donald B. Ayer, Peter A. Nowinski, David F. Levi, Robert Twiss, Charles J. Stevens, Paul Seave, John Vincent, McGregor Scott. NOT PICTURED: John P. Hyland, George L. O'Connell, Richard H. Jenkins.


JOHN P. HYLAND. Appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as the first United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, he took office on the day the district was created on September 18, 1966. A graduate of the University of San Francisco Law School, after serving as a Deputy District Attorney in Tulare County, Hyland practiced law in small two lawyer firm in Visalia, California before moving to Sacramento with his wife Catherine and nine children to assume his duties as the district's chief federal law enforcement officer. He presided over a staff of three assistants in Sacramento. He later hired a full time Assistant U.S. Attorney to staff the Fresno office and a fourth assistant U.S. Attorney in the Sacramento office. During his tenure, a lands division was also established, with two Justice Department lawyers on the eighth floor of the courthouse at 650 Capitol Mall in Sacramento. Hyland's term came to an unexpectedly abrupt end following President Johnson's decision not to seek another term as President. Hyland remained in Sacramento, where he maintained a private practice until his death.

D. DWAYNE KEYES. Appointed by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969, the district's second United States Attorney was formerly the Assistant District Attorney of Fresno County. The United States Attorney's office grew in size to more than ten assistants during his tenure. The famous trial of Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme on charges of attempting to murder President Gerald Ford took place during his term, and Keyes personally took a prominent part in that trial. Other noteworthy events during his term included the trial of Steven Soliah for the 1975 robbery of Crocker National Bank and the murder of Myrna Opsahl, and the trial of certain Pit River Indians for allegedly assaulting United States Marshal Arthur Van Court and several of his deputies in the incident at Four Corners. He later became Presiding Judge of the Fresno County Superior Court.

HERMAN SILLAS. The district's third United States Attorney, Sillas had been Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles under Governor Jerry Brown before his appointment by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. As United States Attorney, he placed an emphasis on educating the public about the role of the office. He resigned in the middle of his term to return to private practice with the firm of Ochoa and Sillas. The court then appointed former Assistant U.S. Attorney and partner in the Sacramento law firm of Diepenbrock, Wulff, Plant and Hannegan, William B. Shubb to take his place in October of 1980. Shubb served until he returned to private practice in December of 1981. Shubb's First Assistant Francis M. "Mac" Goldsberry was then appointed by the court to take his place until the next Presidential appointee took office.

DONALD B. AYER. The fourth presidentially appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California took office early in 1982. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Ayer had been an associate attorney in the San Jose office of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher after receiving his law degree from Harvard in 1975. The United States Attorney's office experienced its greatest period of growth during his two terms, nearly tripling in the number of attorneys employed. When Ayer left to enter private practice in Washington D.C., his Chief Assistant, former Department of Justice lawyer Peter A. Nowinski, was appointed to take his place. Ayer subsequently served a short term as Deputy Attorney General, with Nowinski as his Associate. He is currently a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Jones Day.

DAVID F. LEVI. As the district's fifth presidentially appointed United States Attorney, President Reagan selected one of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Ayer's criminal division. This was the first time, but would not be the last, that an assistant in the office would be appointed by the President to serve as the United States Attorney for the district. The son of former Solicitor General and Attorney General Edward Levi, David Levi graduated from Harvard University and received his law degree from Stanford University. His term as United States Attorney was cut short by his appointment by President George Bush to the United States District Court in October of 1990. Assistant United States Attorney Robert Twiss, who had served in the criminal division of the office, and was Levi's Chief Assistant, was appointed by the court to take his place.

GEORGE L. O'CONNELL. President George Bush chose another assistant in the criminal division of the office to be the sixth presidentially appointed United States Attorney. After graduating from Purdue University, O'Connell received his law degree from Harvard University in 1972. He had served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California and engaged in the private of law in Los Angeles before being hired by Ayer to head the Sacramento office's special prosecutions unit. He left the office in 1973 to become a partner in the Sacramento law firm of Downey, Brand, Seymour & Rohwer, later forming the law firm of Stevens and O'Connell with former U.S. Attorney Chuck Stevens.

CHARLES J. STEVENS. Prior to his appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1994 as the district's seventh United States Attorney, Chuck Stevens was the partner in charge of the Sacramento office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he handled business litigation matters and business crimes investigations. A graduate of Colgate University and the University of California School of Law, he also previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles, where he tried numerous federal criminal cases and supervised grand jury investigations in white collar criminal matters. He left the office in 1997 to form the Sacramento law firm of Stevens and O'Connell. Stevens' Chief Assistant, Paul Seave, was appointed by the Attorney General to serve as United States Attorney pending presidential appointment.

PAUL SEAVE. As the district's eighth presidentially appointed United States Attorney, a career federal prosecutor was selected by President Clinton. Before being asked by Stevens to come to Sacramento to be his Chief Assistant in 1993, Seave was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California from 1983 to 1987 and again from 1989 to 1993. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Seave had also served stints in private practice both in Pennsylvania and Southern California. As U.S. Attorney he co-chaired the Greater Sacramento Area Hate Crimes Task Force; chaired the executive committee of the Central Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and was co-founder of Project Help: Sacramento Mobilizing Against Substance Abuse. When he resigned in 2001 to work for California Attorney General Bill Lockyear, his chief assistant, long time Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vincent, was appointed by the Attorney General to take his place.

McGREGOR SCOTT. The district's ninth presidentially appointed United States Attorney is the former District Attorney of Shasta County. He is a graduate of Santa Clara University and earned his law degree from Hastings College of Law at the University of California. A veteran prosecutor, he served in the District Attorney's Office in Contra Costa County before moving to Redding. Appointed by President George W. Bush in 2003, Scott has taken a personal interest in the history of the office, creating a "Wall of History" with a plaque containing the names of all past United States Attorneys and photos of all those who were Presidentially appointed.

BENJAMIN WAGNER. The districtís tenth presidentially appointed United States Attorney joined the office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 1992, after practicing for five years with the firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel in New York City. A graduate of the NYU School of Law, he served in the office as Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit, Hate Crimes Coordinator, and Anti-Terrorism Coordinator, before his appointment as United States Attorney by President Obama in 2009. He served until 2016, when he left to return to private practice with the firm of Gibson Dunn.

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© 2004 United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Historical Society.