Boston judge eyed for attorney general position Rya Zobel is said to see president

January 29, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton has held his first meetings with candidates for attorney general, his spokesman said, and sources say federal District Judge Rya Zobel of Boston was among them.

White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos confirmed yesterday that Mr. Clinton met with "at least one" candidate for the job as he tries to find a replacement for Zoe Baird, who withdrew from consideration last week after controversy over her hiring of undocumented workers as domestic servants.

Ms. Zobel, 61, is a highly regarded federal judge who has handled a number of extremely complex cases, including litigation involving asbestos and a massive patent infringement case that Polaroid Corp. brought against Kodak in the 1980s.

Ms. Zobel is a native of the former East Germany who came to the United States as a child with her family fleeing communist rule. She became one of the first women to graduate from Harvard Law School and became a partner at one of Boston's most prestigious law firms before being tapped for the federal bench by President Carter in 1979.

Unlike Mr. Clinton, Ms. Zobel opposes the death penalty -- a possible source of problems should she be nominated.

Sources familiar with the selection process, however, say Mr. Clinton continues to have a number of candidates in mind for the job and will have interviewed several before making a final decision. No announcement of replacement for Ms. Baird is likely until sometime next week, White House officials said.

Mr. Clinton also has been considering former Watergate special prosecutor Charles Ruff. Had Ms. Baird been confirmed, Mr. Ruff would have been her top choice for the department's No. 2 job, a source said.

In addition, sources close to the process say White House officials have interviewed Andrea Ordin, the former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, for a senior Department of Justice post. Ms. Ordin is one of several candidates under consideration for one of the top posts at the department, but she has told officials she does not wish to be considered for the attorney general's job, itself, the sources said.

Several other candidates have been widely rumored to be in contention for the attorney general's post, including Janet Reno, the U.S. attorney in Miami, and Drew Days III, a professor at Yale Law School.

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