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Former state District Judge Ryan Patrick— the son of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — has been selected to be the new U.S. attorney nominee for the Houston region, according to an internal email sent Thursday to federal prosecutors.
The email, a copy of which was obtained by the Chronicle, was sent by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez to the staff of the Southern District of Texas, which includes Houston.
“I received word today from a credible source that Ryan Patrick has been selected to serve as the next U.S. Attorney in our district,” Martinez said in the email. He declined to comment when questioned by the Chronicle.
Patrick confirmed Thursday that he interviewed for the position with Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn in Washington, D.C. several weeks ago, and said he is awaiting notification. He declined to comment further.
The Southern District of Texas has the busiest criminal docket in the country, stretching from the Louisiana border through the Houston area to the Mexican border in Laredo. It is a hub for drug and human trafficking, and is at the heart of immigration, Medicare fraud and white-collar investigations.
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Under the system for filling vacant U.S. attorney positions, Cornyn and Cruz will officially recommend a candidate to President Donald Trump, who will formally decide whom to nominate for the position.
The candidate must then be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
10 things to know about Ryan Patrick
1. Graduated from South Texas College of Law in Houston in 2006
2. Served as Harris County assistant district attorney, from 2006-2012, where he handled narcotics trafficking cases and illegal “pill mill” operations at the major offenders division.
3. Appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in 2012 to the 177th state district court bench, where he oversaw 120 jury trials over four years.
4. Lost a bid for re-election in 2016 when Democrats swept Republican judges out of office
5. Served as political director for the Harris County Republican Party, 2002-2004
6. Son of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, an ardent Republican and supporter of President Donald Trump.
7. Swore his dad into office in 2015 in a break with protocol.
8. Named a national champion during a mock trial competition while a law student at South Texas College of Law.
9. Currently working as a criminal felony defense lawyer with his Houston firm, the Law Office of Ryan Patrick, and as senior counsel to HooverSlovacek.
10. Expecting the arrival of his third child any day now
Officials with Cruz and Cornyn declined to comment. Another perceived front-runner for the position, former First Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Finder in Houston, said Thursday he, too, interviewed in Washington with the senators more than a month ago.
A popular former judge with impeccable Republican credentials, Ryan Patrick, 38, was long considered a leading candidate for the top prosecutor’s position.
After graduating from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Ryan Patrick worked six years as a Harris County assistant district attorney before being appointed to the 177th state district court in Harris County in 2012 by Gov. Rick Perry, who now serves in Trump’s cabinet.
Patrick lost his bid to keep the judicial seat in November when Democrats swept a group of Republican judges out of office in Harris County. He is now working in private practice.
His father has been an ardent supporter of Trump. Dan Patrick chaired Cruz’s Texas campaign until Cruz withdrew from the presidential race, and then immediately switched his allegiance to Trump. Dan Patrick increased his already considerable political clout in Texas with Trump’s win, which he called “the most historic presidential election in the history of this nation.”
Former Texas Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, who worked as a consultant to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — now White House chief of staff — said at the time that Dan Patrick “will have serious influence if he wants it with the Trump administration.”
At the Harris County courthouse, where Ryan Patrick worked for 10 years, the young lawyer exceeded expectations as a prosecutor and then a judge.
“I’ve always found him to be fair,” said Tucker Graves, president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. “When he was on the bench, I felt like he would look at the legal issues and rule accordingly. He would listen to both sides.”
Vivian King, who is now chief of staff in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office under Democrat Kim Ogg, agreed that Patrick was an attentive prosecutor then a balanced jurist.
“He won everyone over by being fair and kind and pleasant,” she said.
King, a Democrat, ran against Patrick for the bench in 2012, and the two debated several times. Even though she was his opponent, she found Patrick to be exceedingly respectful during the campaign and once he was on the bench.
“To me, he bent over backwards to be courteous and polite,” she said.
King and Graves said they were not surprised by the announcement, because of Ryan Patrick’s connection to Perry and his father’s position.
Both said his youth and relative inexperience in the federal courts would not be a hindrance.
“I think that he can do a good job because it’s a management role,” King said. “He’s always managed his courtroom well.”
Ryan Patrick declined to discuss the possible appointment, but said he has been focused on other news. His wife, Kellie, is expected to deliver the couple’s third child any day.
Kevin Diaz and Mike Ward contributed to this report.
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