Braden Boucek Reflects on Past Work at DOJ and as an Assistant United States Attorney

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Southeastern Legal Foundation Director of Litigation Braden Boucek in studio to discuss his experience at the DOJ and as an Assistant United States Attorney.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by our very good friend Braden Boucek, who is a guest all-star panelist and director of litigation for the Southeastern Legal Foundation that is, in my view, the very best public interest law firm in the country.

Braden, there is something that has been really bothering me about our justice system, and that is what I could say, its two-tiered nature of it. If you are a Democrat, you can get away with a lot of stuff.

But if you’re a conservative, it looks like at least the Federal Department of Justice and the FBI target you. They try to find a reason to go after you. It seems to be increasingly prevalent. Your thoughts about this?

Boucek: I do acknowledge this is a growing concern, and it’s one person. To me, as a former DOJ employee, I take great pride in my tenure at the Department of Justice, and I worked with great people of all political stripes and I would have never thought that politics could have weighed heavily in the prosecutorial or investigative decisions of DOJ personnel.

But it’s hard to look at events of the last several years and conclude that politics aren’t entering into it, at least at the highest echelons of the Justice Department.

Leahy: Tell us about your experience in the Department of Justice. What was your job, what did you do? How long were you there?

Boucek: Sure. As a federal prosecutor, for me, that was a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I started working in August of 2001, and I watched the Twin Towers go down on my first week or two on the job and decided I really wanted to contribute to that effort.

And that’s what first attracted me to the Department of Justice. So I ended up joining the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District. That’s Memphis in 2005. I joined the national office five years later.

So all told, I had nine or 10 years at the Justice Department, and I was really down in the trenches with doing federal prosecution.

Leahy: It’s hard to get a job as an assistant U.S. Attorney. Was that your title?

Boucek: Assistant United States Attorney. Correct.

Leahy: That’s a pretty big deal.

Boucek: It’s a great job. It’s very competitive, and one of the reasons why I was drawn to it, as people have told me, they are the best trial lawyers in the world. And that’s what I wanted to be. But it is competitive, and it’s hard to get that job. But you really do work with top-notch talent.

Leahy: What was it like being an Assistant U.S. Attorney versus you’ve been in private practice before, right? What’s the difference between those two gigs?

Boucek: The funny thing is, I’ve actually either been a public interest lawyer or I’ve been a government attorney, but I’ve never actually made an honest dollar, so to speak. (Laughter)

But there’s less of a difference between public interest and being a federal prosecutor than you might think. I mean, you go into court every day, and you say, my name is Braden Boucek and I represent the United States of America. And now I like to think that I’m really doing the same thing, except I’m promoting the value.

Leahy: When you say that to the judge, it must have felt really good.

Boucek: It felt amazing. Yes.

Leahy: I represent the United States of America.

Boucek: I’m here on behalf of the United States of America.

Leahy: Yes, that’s pretty powerful.

Boucek: It is. I don’t get to say that anymore, but I do think that you do the kind of work you do you’re representing the values that make the United States of America worthwhile.

Leahy: What were your most memorable cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney?

Boucek: When I was in Memphis, I did drug cartel stuff, primarily, and when I was in Nashville, I worked more on organized crime and street gangs.

Leahy: And so what’s the hierarchy there? You would report to the local U.S. Attorney?

Boucek: Ultimately, yes.

Leahy: Now, that’s a pretty big job, too.

Boucek: Oh, sure. And I worked with some fantastic United States Attorneys.

Leahy: And then they, in turn, report directly to where in the hierarchy do they report from an attorney?

Boucek: So the United States Attorney’s offices are an arm of the larger Justice Department, so they report ultimately back to Main Justice.

And I do think that this is a really sharp dividing line for all of the listeners between your field offices, whether it’s the FBI or United States Attorneys, and the people in Washington, D.C.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Braden Boucek” by The Federalist Society. Background Photo “U.S. Department of Justice Building” by Ken Lund. CC BY-SA 2.0.


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