Biden nominates associate state Attorney General Vanessa Avery as Connecticut’s first Black female U.S. attorney

President Joe Biden has nominated Vanessa Avery of the state attorney general’s office to be the next U.S. Attorney for the state of Connecticut. (Mark Mirko/The Hartford Courant)

President Joe Biden has nominated associate state Attorney General Vanessa Avery to be Connecticut’s next U.S. attorney, the state’s top federal law enforcement officer.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Avery, an associate state attorney general, will be the first African American woman to serve as U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

Avery would replace former U.S. Attorney John Durham, who left office following Biden’s election, and Leonard Boyle, who has held the office since on an interim basis.

Avery was one of six U.S. attorney nominees announced by the White House early Wednesday.

“These individuals 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.

Avery has been chief of the Division of Enforcement and Public Protection at the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office since 2021, and an associate attorney general in that office since 2019.

She was an assistant U.S. attorney in the office’s civil division from 2014 to 2019.

From 2006 to 2014, Avery was a litigation attorney at the Hartford law firm McCarter & English.

She received a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1999 and an undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1996.

Avery’s current boss, Attorney General William Tong, praised the nomination

“She is universally respected by every colleague she has worked with and has deep connections across the Connecticut legal community,” Tong said. “In our work together, Vanessa always leads with integrity and a strong commitment to justice, and she insists on accountability and respect for the rule of law.”

“I will miss her leadership and guidance here in the Office of the Attorney General, but am so proud of this achievement and look forward to working closely with her in this new well-deserved role should she be confirmed,” Tong said.

Gov. Ned Lamont joined Tong in applauding Avery’s nomination. “It’s a really good choice — I talked with the senators about it and they’re very enthusiastic,” Lamont said Wednesday morning in New Britain. “I think it’s a good thing for Connecticut.”

Tong said Avery grew up in New Haven and is “a proud graduate of the New Haven Public Schools.”

“Vanessa earned her law degree at the Georgetown University Law Center, after completing her undergraduate studies at Yale University,” he noted.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who also noted Avery’s Connecticut roots, said she “has dedicated her career to advancing fairness and equity in the judicial system.”

“I was proud to recommend her nomination to the Biden administration. Her vast legal experience and deep commitment to justice for all will prepare her well to serve in this new role leading the District of Connecticut as United States Attorney. I look forward to her confirmation in the Senate,” Murphy said in an email.

From 2004 to 2005, Avery served as a trial attorney at the U.S, Department of Justice in the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division, according to the White House.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, also D-Conn. pointing out that he has “held this job myself,” added, “I’m particularly proud of this nomination.” 

“Vanessa Avery is a proven prosecutor – tough and fair – who has deep roots in her community and a lifetime of service. A champion and fighter for Connecticut’s people with broad trial experience and solid, good judgement, she’ll follow the facts and law to deter and punish wrongdoers and fight discrimination,” Blumenthal said. “I’m proud to have recommended her nomination to the White House with Senator Murphy and I look forward to advocating for her confirmation in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I anticipate strong bipartisan support.”
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