The U.S. attorney for most of the metro-east has resigned, and in 10 days, another will take his place.
Donald Boyce has served for two years as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, appointed by then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2016 and re-appointed later that year. He had previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney since 2006, most recently as chief of the organized crime and drug enforcement task force.
Boyce's resignation was announced in a statement Wednesday and will be effective July 21. No reason for his resignation was given.
U.S. attorneys are federal prosecutors who are nominated by the president, generally upon the recommendation of a home-state senator, and are responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the territories they oversee. They report to Justice Department leadership in Washington.
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Emily Hampsten, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, said Durbin and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth informed the White House last August that they were prepared to support a candidate for the U.S. Attorney's office that had been suggested by the House Republican delegation and had been reviewed by Durbin and Duckworth's screening committee.
"We continue to wait for the White House to announce the nomination, and we don't know why there has been such a long delay," Hampsten said.
In early 2017, 46 U.S. attorneys were asked to resign by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Although appointed in the Obama administration, Boyce was not among those asked to resign. Boyce had been appointed as interim when former U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton stepped down to go into private practice. He was then re-appointed by Chief Judge Michael Reagan and thus was court-appointed, not an Obama appointee.
The 46 who were asked to resign were appointed by the Obama administration. It is often customary for U.S. attorneys to step down when the White House changes hands, but it isn’t required. One U.S. attorney in Maryland was appointed by President George W. Bush and remained in office through the Obama administration and into the Trump administration.
On July 22, Steven Weinhoeft will take over as acting U.S. attorney. He has been an assistant U.S. attorney since 2008 and previously worked as first assistant for Sangamon County.