A Lee Bentley, III became the Acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida today, following yesterday’s departure of US Attorney Robert E. O’Neill, according to an announcement from the Justice Department received by Historic City News this morning.
O’Neill, who will still reside in the Tampa Bay area, will open a Miami office for Freeh Group International Solutions; a private risk management company led by former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, which helps clients to keep their corporate noses clean.
Bentley was serving as the First Assistant United States Attorney in the Middle District of Florida, which includes St Augustine and St Johns County, and he has been employed by the Justice Department as a federal prosecutor since 2000.
He worked at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson in Washington, DC — as an associate (1990-1992) and a partner (1993-2000). Bentley also has served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida in Miami, an Attorney-Advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice in Washington, DC, a law clerk to the Hon. Lewis F. Powell, Jr., United States Supreme Court, and a law clerk to Hon. Clement F. Haynsworth, Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated with highest honors from the University of Georgia in 1980 and the University of Virginia School of Law in 1983.
When a US attorney leaves office, the Justice Department may appoint an interim for 120 days; during that time, a federal Judicial Nominating Commission advertises the permanent position and chooses applicants to interview. The interviews take place in public, and then, the commission settles on at least three finalists in a closed session. Florida’s two US Senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, will interview the finalists before the names are forwarded to the White House, where the president will choose a nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee considers the nominee, and if they approve, the nomination goes to the Senate floor for confirmation.