U.S. Attorney Richard Moore, who was appointed as the Southern District of Alabama’s lead federal prosecutor by the Trump administration in 2017, announced his retirement from federal service effective Feb. 26. Earlier this month, the Biden administration’s Department of Justice asked 56 Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys to hand in their resignations.
Moore’s nearly four-year tenure caps off a career in which he also served as inspector general for the Tennessee Valley Authority for 14 years, a position appointed by former President George W. Bush. Prior to that, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Alabama for 17 years, hired by Jeff Sessions.
In a news conference Monday, Moore acknowledged his staff, judicial officials, local leaders and the “steadfast example” set by Sessions, first in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and later as attorney general.
“Most of what I have learned in terms of being a public servant and a prosecutor came from Jeff Sessions,” Moore said. “In a highly partisan and highly uncivil world, Jeff Sessions remained a statesman.”
Moore spoke about the partnerships he created with local law enforcement agencies and noted “when people work together, and trust each other, you get better results.”
“We share a common philosophy and that philosophy is that we need to be vigorous and aggressive about taking the trigger-pullers off of the streets,” he said. “We know that we cannot prosecute our way out of every problem … but our goal has been to make sure our citizens are safe and our communities are safer because we have the common philosophy of being aggressive about criminal prosecution.”
Moore welcomed Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich and Baldwin County District Attorney Bob Wilters to deliver remarks, and all praised the level of engagement between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement agencies during Moore’s term. There are 13 counties in the Southern District of Alabama.
Rich said Moore sought her counsel shortly after being appointed, and it led to a more effective partnership to prosecute violent crime.
“It became very, very clear that [Moore] wanted to be a part of a team of players, wanted to join forces with that team, and make that team better,” Rich said. “He wanted to use the tools of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to help the local leaders — the District Attorney’s Office, the sheriffs, the police departments and all the federal agencies — to do their job more efficiently and effectively.”
Rich noted Moore’s eagerness to prosecute more gun offenses in the federal system, which provides harsher sentences and penalties than the state system.
“Criminal defendants who had been convicted of felony cases in state court but were then caught again illegally possessing firearms … if we were able to even prosecute them … their punishments would often be minimal,” she said. “But we realized that the same offense prosecuted in the federal system would give them significant jail time and we could take them off the streets.”
The Southern District of Alabama became the nation’s leader in firearms prosecutions per capita under Moore’s leadership, Rich said.
“Mobile is a safer and better place because of his leadership and we can all rest a little easier knowing these violent, gun-toting criminals are off our streets and in the federal penitentiary,” she said.
“I can say today that Mobile is a safer city today because of the tenure of U.S. Attorney Richard Moore,” he said. “I’ll never forget the day we got the call he was being appointed — his reputation preceded him. A man of integrity, a smart, brilliant lawyer. Work ethic, probably beyond unparallel and trustworthy beyond measure.”
Stimpson said currently, there is both trust and an open line of communication between federal and local agencies and “under [Moore’s] leadership, we have targeted those who are doing the most harm in our city.”
Among other highlights of Moore’s tenure was the indictment of 42 individuals tied to what prosecutors are calling the Crossley Hills Drug Trafficking Organization and his signing of a 2020 Department of Justice report identifying unconstitutional conditions for prisoners in the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate was presiding over the confirmation of Merrick Garland as attorney general. The appointment of new U.S. attorneys is expected to be complete by the end of April. Moore said regardless of the politics and priorities of the Biden administration, he hopes the community collaboration can continue.
“The hope is that whoever the new administration’s U.S. attorney is here, they’ll do like most of us do and sit down with our [district attorneys] and our mayor and find out what their needs are and try to be in synch with them as much as possible in terms of law enforcement work,” he said. “There can be a difference in philosophies about criminal prosecutions from one administration to the other and how U.S. attorneys interpret that from one state to the other can be different.”
When Moore inherited the district from the Obama-appointed Kenyen Brown, they sat down and talked about the transition.
“I picked his brain about what he did, what was working for him, and some of the [programs] that I thought were really good that he was doing, I kept going,” Moore said. “So my hope is a one-on-one with the new U.S. attorney, whoever that may be, and we’ll have that kind of relationship going forward.”
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