Advance Notice: Briefs

Ison makes Michigan history as first Black woman to serve as U.S. attorney

By: - December 16, 2021 10:56 am

U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison

In bipartisan fashion, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of Dawn Ison to serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

The Farmington Hills resident is the first African-American woman to serve in the post. 

“Dawn Ison’s confirmation is great news for Michigan. I’m confident in her ability to serve the people of Michigan, and I know she will continue her excellent work as U.S. Attorney,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing).

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) agreed.

“I’m pleased the Senate unanimously confirmed Dawn Ison to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan,” said Peters. “Dawn is highly qualified and well-prepared – particularly given her previous work in the U.S. Attorney’s office – and is breaking barriers as the first African-American woman to be confirmed to this position. I’m confident Dawn will represent Michiganders well.”

On Nov. 12, President Joe Biden nominated Ison and Mark Totten to serve as U.S. Attorney for Michigan’s Western District. As of Thursday, Totten’s nomination has not been taken up by the Senate. Totten has been chief legal counsel for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer since 2019. Prior to that, he was a Michigan State University College of Law professor.  

Ison was an assistant attorney in the Eastern District office, where she has served since 2002. She is a Spelman College and Wayne State University Law School graduate. 

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan has jurisdiction over federal criminal and civil cases in Michigan’s eastern Lower Peninsula with courts located in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Bay City, Flint and Port Huron.

Saul Green and Jeffrey Collins, both African-American men from Detroit, have previously served as the U.S. attorney general for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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