Diane J. Humetewa, a 1993 graduate of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, was confirmed late Thursday by the U.S. Senate as Arizona's next U.S. Attorney.
Humetewa, a member of the Hopi tribe, is the first Native American appointed to the position.
Humetewa has been the senior litigation counsel and tribal liaison in the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office and serves as an appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribal Court.
Patricia White, dean of the College of Law, praised Humetewa.
"She will bring professionalism, experience and a caring sensitivity to this position," White said. "She will carry on the strong tradition of excellent U.S. Attorneys for Arizona, including her immediate predecessor Paul Charlton, his predecessor Jose Rivera, and his predecessor Janet Napolitano. They all brought exceptional talent and professionalism to the post. This is the tradition that Diane Humetewa inherits and will continue."
Rebecca Tsosie, executive director of the Indian Legal Program, said Humetewa is an excellent choice.
"Diane Humetewa has outstanding academic credentials and extensive experience as a prosecutor," Tsosie said. "I cannot think of another person who has Diane’s depth and range of experience as a federal prosecutor and her familiarity with the many programs encompassed within the U.S. attorney’s office.
"I cannot think of another individual who has the same combination of intellectual brilliance, outstanding lawyering skills, impeccable judgment, high ethical standards, commitment to professionalism, and the ability to build consensus and understanding among diverse groups. Diane Humetewa will be an excellent U.S. Attorney for the state of Arizona, the Native Nations within the southwest, and for the entire country."
Humetewa, who served as a counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs from August 1993 to March 1996, when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was chairman of the panel, has been an Assistant U.S. Attorney for six U.S. Attorneys.
She was recommended for the nomination by Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and McCain to fill the position vacated by Paul Charlton, one of eight U.S. attorneys ousted in a controversial purge of the Justice Department. Daniel Knauss has served as the interim U.S. attorney since January.
"I congratulate Diane Humetewa on her confirmation today as the new U.S. Attorney for Arizona," Kyl said in a statement. "Her background as a prosecutor, crime-victims advocate, and years of public service made her an outstanding nominee and will serve her well in this important position."
McCain praised Humetewa in his nomination.
"Diane has demonstrated a devotion to public service and commitment to justice, and I believe she is uniquely qualified to address legal issues in the state of Arizona," McCain said in a statement released on Thursday. "During my chairmanship on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee I had the opportunity to work with Diane and witness her dedication to serving Americans, commitment to justice and incredible work ethic.
"These qualities will serve her well as the next U.S. Attorney for Arizona."
Charlton told The Arizona Republic earlier this year that he and Humetewa had discussed the job, and he feels she is a "perfect fit."
"I tried a case with Diane about 10 years ago, and it was there that I saw this extraordinary combination of outstanding prosecutor and an individual with a clear moral compass who understood what was right and demonstrated good judgment consistently," Charlton said. "One of the qualities you need to be a U.S. attorney in Arizona is to have a great deal of sensitivity to issues in Indian country, and no one has been better able to exemplify that than Diane."