A Look at the Top 3 Contenders to Lead the Atlanta U.S. Attorney's Office

Each would make history if chosen for the powerful position

Nearly 100 days into his term, President Joe Biden will soon turn his attention towards another very important task: nominating U.S. Attorneys across the country. A U.S. Attorney is the top federal prosecutor in a state/region and is tasked with prosecuting criminal cases brought by federal government in their jurisdiction. They must also represent the United States in cases where the federal government is a defendant.

Here in metro Atlanta, the U.S. Attorney is based out the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Downtown Atlanta. Because the President has not appointed anyone yet, the office is currently led by an acting U.S. Attorney. A very recognizable person once held the office: Sally Yates, who briefly served as acting Attorney General in 2017 and clashed with President Donald Trump over his Muslim travel ban early in his term.

The next Atlanta U.S. Attorney will soon take over several federal investigations, perhaps the most notable of which is the ongoing corruption investigation a few blocks away at Atlanta City Hall. Several top aides of former Mayor Kasim Reed are facing charges of bribery. Reed himself has not been formally charged in the investigation and continues to deny any involvement or wrongdoing.

Now that we have some of the details out of the way, let’s take a look at who might be nominated for the powerful position. Whoever President Biden chooses for the office will then face a confirmation vote from the U.S. Senate.

According to sources, the list is topped by three women, and each of them would make history if selected: any one of them would be the first woman of color to lead the Atlanta U.S. Attorney’s office. They each bring very lengthy resumes that include prosecutorial, legislative, judicial and even military backgrounds.

Sherry Boston

Sherry Boston is a longtime prosecutor who currently serves as District Attorney in DeKalb County. She was first elected to the office in 2016, easily defeating a corrupt incumbent in the Democratic primary and sailing through the general election with no Republican opposition. Prior to becoming DA, she served as DeKalb County’s Solicitor General. She is currently one of five Black female District Attorneys in the state.

Before entering countywide politics, Boston served as a judge. According to the biography on her website, she was the first woman to serve as a Municipal Court Judge in Dunwoody, a city in North DeKalb County. She also served as as an Associate Magistrate Judge.

She obtained her law degree from Emory University's School of Law and remains an active member of the Georgia Bar.

Jamila Hall

Also seen as a top contender for the Atlanta U.S. Attorney’s office is Jamila Hall, who used to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She is now a partner at Jones Day, an international White Collar Defense law firm.

From a biography: “From 2007 to 2011, Jamila served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, in the Economic Crimes division, where she tried numerous multi-defendant white collar crime jury trials to verdict and successfully prosecuted more than 100 financial fraud cases. In 2012, Jamila received the Federal Trade Commission’s Criminal Liaison Award for the best consumer fraud prosecution in the United States.”

Hall has been recognized as one of the top white collar defense attorneys in the country. The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, she is a graduate of the Columbia School of Law, where was a member of student government.

Zahra Karinshak

A one-term Georgia State Senator, Zahra Karinshak is a former federal prosecutor who served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. She flipped a Republican-held State Senate district in 2018 and unsuccessfully competed for a congressional seat in 2020.

Like Hall, Karinshak is also an alumni of the Atlanta U.S. Attorney’s office. The two actually served in the office together as Assistant U.S. Attorneys. In that role, she prosecuted cases ranging from money laundering, public corruption and child exploitation. “Prior to serving as a federal prosecutor, Zahra served as the Deputy Executive Counsel to Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, was an associate at Sutherland, and clerked for the Honorable J.L. Edmondson, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals,” according to a biography.

If chosen, Karinshak would be the first Iranian-American woman to serve as Atlanta’s U.S. Attorney. She also obtained her law degree from Emory’s School of Law, as did Boston. I think it’s safe to assume that Georgia’s legal world is a small one.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that there were 3 Black female District Attorneys in Georgia. There are currently 5. The error has been corrected.