Spokane Native Vanessa R. Waldref to be Sworn in as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington

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Spokane, Washington – On October 7, 2021, Vanessa R. Waldref will be sworn in as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. In a ceremony that will be held on Thursday afternoon, Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian will administer the oath of office to U.S. Attorney Waldref, making her the chief law enforcement officer for the Eastern District. U.S. Attorney Waldref was nominated by President Biden on July 26, 2021, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 30, 2021. She will be the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District.

U.S. Attorney Waldref said, “It is an honor and privilege to serve as United States Attorney, and to lead an Office of dedicated public servants who work every day to pursue justice and build a safe and strong community in Eastern Washington. I look forward to working closely with our federal, state, local, and Tribal law enforcement partners to fulfill the mission of the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to investigate and prosecute the most serious offenders in our community, and will work tirelessly to protect the people of this District from violent crime, child exploitation, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking, and environmental degradation.”

U.S. Attorney Waldref has spent the majority of her legal career in the Department of Justice. Since 2013, she has served as an Assistant United States Attorney and as a Trial Attorney with the Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. An expert on regulatory, employment, and environmental law, U.S. Attorney Waldref has taught a number of courses at the Gonzaga University Law School as an adjunct professor. She has won numerous awards for her teaching and mentorship of law students, including the prestigious Myra Bradwell Woman of the Year award in 2021.

Prior to joining the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Waldref was in private practice at law firms in Spokane and Washington, D.C., where she specialized in complex litigation and labor and employment law. She began her legal career as a law clerk to United States District Judge John D. Bates in the District of Columbia. After graduating as valedictorian from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, she went on to graduate magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa at Georgetown University and magna cum laude and Order of the Coif from the Georgetown University Law School. She is proud to have been born and raised in Northeast Spokane.

U.S. Attorney Waldref welcomed the responsibilities that come with her new duties. She pledged to serve and protect all the people of the Eastern District, while ensuring a commitment to fairness and equality. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute federal offenses with all the tools at our disposal, including the enforcement of federal civil rights for everyone. We are at an inflection point where we must decide what kind of society we want to be. All of us — conservatives and liberals, law enforcement officers and social justice activists, prosecutors and members of the community — are called upon to work together toward our shared American ideal of equal justice under law.”


U.S. Attorney Waldref thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Harrington, who has served as the Acting U.S. Attorney since March, for his dedicated service: “I have incredible respect for the Office and the hard work and dedication of its leadership, especially during the pandemic. We are fortunate in the Eastern District to have a U.S. Attorney’s Office made up of such professional and enthusiastic attorneys and support staff. These public servants routinely sacrifice their personal and family time to protect and enforce the rights we all hold dear. Having served in the trenches with this group, I know how committed they are to seeking justice. I am honored and ready to serve with them.”

The Eastern District of Washington encompasses a geographical area of approximately 41,826 square miles east of the Cascade Mountains, and is populated by more than 1.3 million people. The Eastern District includes the counties of Spokane, Lincoln, Douglas, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Grant, Adams, Whitman, Garfield, Asotin, Columbia, Walla Walla, Franklin, Benton, Klickitat, Yakima, and Kittitas. U.S. Attorney Waldref will work with Assistant U.S. Attorneys and support staff at offices in Spokane and Yakima, and will continue to evaluate the needs of the District for other staffed offices.

Chief Judge Bastian will perform the swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Attorney Waldref at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 7, 2021, in Courtroom 755 at the Tom Foley United States Courthouse, located at 920 W. Riverside Avenue in Spokane. Chief Judge Bastian and U.S. Attorney Waldref are expected to make brief remarks. The ceremony is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis for seating. Face masks are required in all public spaces in the federal courthouse, and visitors should expect airport-style security at the front of the building.

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