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Callahan tapped for federal prosecutor’s job

It’s finally official. Judge Richard Callahan has been tapped to become the federal prosecutor for Eastern Missouri.
President Barack Obama announced his picks for four U.S. attorney openings on Friday. He chose Callahan, a circuit judge in Jefferson City, to take over the U.S. attorney’s office based in St. Louis. The previous U.S. attorney was Catherine Hanaway, a Republican appointee who stepped down in April. The others named last week are from Montana and Iowa.
“These nominees have displayed an unyielding dedication to serving the public good,” Obama said in a statement. “They are some of the most diligent, judicious and well-respected legal minds in the country.”
A Democrat, Callahan, 62, was first elected a Cole County judge in 2002. He is a former Cole County prosecutor and a former assistant circuit attorney in St. Louis. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University.
His appointment now goes to the U.S. Senate for confirmation. Still undetermined is who his counterpart across the state will be. Obama has yet to announce his pick to run the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri, based in Kansas City.
Callahan had been in St. Louis last week for the state judicial conference. Reached by phone, he referred a reporter to a brief written statement in which he thanked Missouri’s U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and Kit Bond, a Republican, for their support.
“Mindful and respectful of the fact that this nomination still requires the advice and consent of the Senate, I have no further comment other than a pledge to the citizens of Cole County that I will continue to give a 100 percent effort to my current job as circuit judge as long as I occupy that position,” he said in the statement.
The judge declined further comment.
As a circuit judge in the state’s capital city, he has heard and ruled on a number of major cases, from legal challenges to ballot measures to the 2004 lawsuit that challenged Missouri’s method of funding public schools.
The Missouri Supreme Court just this month affirmed the judge’s decision upholding the state’s public school finance system as constitutional.
Another recent ruling he made upheld a state law that imposed a new fee for serving court papers and directed the money to a fund to raise deputy sheriffs’ pay.
But Callahan’s judicial experience hasn’t been limited to state law challenges. He also handled the gamut of cases in all areas of the law that confront judges, especially in smaller courthouses. For example, at times he spent his lunch break during the weeks-long school funding trial hearing and accepting pleas in criminal cases.
Callahan also this year threw out a man’s murder conviction, writing a sharply worded opinion that criticized the prosecutor in that case, Kenny Hulshof, who went on to become a Republican congressman and then ran for governor last year but lost to Democrat Jay Nixon. The judge found that prosecutors and investigators didn’t disclose some evidence that would have helped the defense and misrepresented some evidence at trial.