This post is even more random than usual. But it’s Friday, and Mother Nature is going bonkers — a major snowstorm in the Midwest, an epic typhoon in the Philippines — so indulge us.
Some time ago, we characterized the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of California (San Francisco) as “well-regarded.” But then John of The Legal Reader helpfully informed us that the office has slipped in recent years. He brought to our attention this fascinating feature, describing problems that have plagued the office under United States Attorney Kevin Ryan.
So we read the article, which was most enlightening. And after reading it, we were left with one conclusion:
EUMI CHOI IS FABULOUS.
Who is Eumi Choi? She’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District, the right-hand woman of U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan. But it seems that, despite her nominal status as Ryan’s second-in-command, Choi is actually running the show, cracking the whip over the assistant U.S. attorneys while Ryan hides out in his office.
If someone were to make a movie about the N.D. Cal. office, Eumi Choi would be the “scene stealing” character. The role of Eumi would turn into a surprise star vehicle for Lucy Liu, en route to an improbable Oscar nomination.
We explain why Eumi is so yummy, after the jump.
Why do we love Eumi Choi so much? Based on what we’ve read about her, she’s a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix. But instead of being your stereotypical, swaggering, white-male prosecutor, she’s actually a woman of Asian-American descent. And there are few things we love more than
dragon ladies strong Asian women. (Hi Mom!)
Some excerpts from the SF Weekly article:
After [Kevin] Ryan’s relatively calm first year [as U.S. Attorney], the honeymoon ended in October 2003. That month, Ryan named Eumi Choi as his first assistant, a position with oversight of the criminal division and the narcotics task force, as well as the Oakland and San Jose branches.
A federal prosecutor for six years in Washington, D.C., before she moved to San Francisco in 2000, Choi already supervised the civil, tax, and administrative divisions as the executive assistant U.S. Attorney. The dual managerial roles and Ryan’s blessing gave her, in effect, carte blanche over the office.
Current and former prosecutors assert that, from the moment of her promotion, Choi clashed with supervisors and attorneys alike. Sources allege that she usurped the authority of division chiefs, forcing them to clear charging decisions with her and dictating case strategy. Section meetings, once free-flowing affairs in which managers and prosecutors swapped ideas, turned funereal, the staff loath to contradict Choi’s edicts.
“It became all about following directions,” a prosecutor says.
Magnificent. It’s about time that an Asian female kicked some AUSA ass in San Francisco. Put them in their places, Eumi!
Pushing aside U.S. Attorney Ryan, Eumi seized the reins of power:
But after elevating Choi to first assistant, [Ryan] withdrew, ceding the day-to-day grind of running the office to her. He closed his open door, requiring attorneys who wanted to see him to arrange an appointment through his secretary, and meeting only if Choi also had time to attend.
“She’s the gatekeeper,” another ex-prosecutor says of Choi. “People have to go through or past her to talk to him.”
Awesome. This power-hungry prosecutrix is doing a great job.
Our one suggestion to Eumi Choi: Take a page from the Jennifer Lopez playbook. Send around an office-wide email ordering all personnel, including assistant U.S. attorneys, never to make direct eye contact with you. Such a rule will psychologically cement your domination of the office. Brilliant!
This article obviously whetted our appetite for more information about this deliciously evil diva. But our
half-assed Googling diligent research didn’t produce much new information. The best we could do were these tidbits from a Mercury News article, “Five Things to Know About Eumi Choi” (link no longer working), :
1. She grew up in Huntington, W. Va., a college town.
2. Her father, Soo Bok Choi, was awarded a U.S. Bronze Star for ground combat during the Korean War. He eventually became a professor at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va.
3. She studied ballet and classical piano when she was a child and went to New York to study both.
4. She turned down a position in the Justice Department’s anti-terrorism section in Washington to remain in Northern California.
5. As a West Virginia government lawyer in the mid-1980s, she went into coal mines to do safety inspections and investigations.
So we’re still hungry for more juicy details about Eumi Choi. Can you help us? If you have any interesting gossip or funny anecdotes about Eumi Choi, please email us (subject line: “Eumi Choi”). If we receive enough tips about her, we’ll do a more detailed write-up. We thank you in advance for your thoughts.
Untouchable: As U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan remains bunkered against criticism, who’s minding the shop? [SF Weekly]
Ryan Faces Depo Over Bad-Snitch Case [The Recorder]
DOJ Reviewers Rap Ryan’s Management [The Recorder]
Appointment of Eumi L. Choi as First Assistant United States Attorney [U.S. Department of Justice]