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PHILADELPHIA – At a formal investiture ceremony held today at the James A. Byrne United States Courthouse, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain took the Oath of Office as the 39th United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Mr. McSwain was nominated by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2017, and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on March 20, 2018; he assumed office on April 6, 2018.
The Ceremonial Courtroom was filled to capacity with Mr. McSwain’s family, friends, and colleagues, as well as dignitaries from federal, state, and local government. Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel presided over the proceedings. Guest speakers included Senator Patrick J. Toomey and Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., both having recommended Mr. McSwain for the post; John J. Soroko, Esq., Chairman Emeritus, Duane Morris, LLP; Samuel G. Williamson, Esq., of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP; and the Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell, Senior United States Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Reverend William Golderer, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia, provided the invocation. After the guests provided remarks, Judge Rendell administered the Oath of Office to her former law clerk Mr. McSwain, who gave concluding remarks.
The speakers highlighted the solemnity of the Office Mr. McSwain has undertaken and the wealth of experience he brings to bear as he assumes the role of the region’s top prosecutor for one of the nation’s largest districts. As Senator Toomey observed, “Bill McSwain will make an outstanding U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In addition to his vast experience in both the private and public sectors, he is committed to the rule of law and dedicated to ensuring everyone is treated fairly under it.”
“I congratulate Mr. McSwain and his family on his investiture, and I commend him for his willingness to serve,” remarked Senator Casey. “U.S. Attorneys play a vital role in the fair, independent administration of justice in this country, and Pennsylvania will benefit from Mr. McSwain’s extensive legal and prosecutorial experience.”
As Mr. Soroko remarked, “How fortunate for the cause of justice and the rule of law that the arc of Bill McSwain’s career has now brought him back to the Office.”
Over the last 18 years, Mr. McSwain has built a diverse trial practice. Most recently, Mr. McSwain was a partner at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath in its Philadelphia office, specializing in white collar criminal matters and complex business litigation. He previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division in the Office he now leads; while there, he was specially assigned to the Department of Defense in 2004 to be the lead staff investigator and Executive Editor of the “Church Report,” a worldwide examination of military interrogation techniques in the Global War on Terror, commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and chaired by Vice Admiral Albert Church. Before his first tour of duty in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. McSwain began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Rendell.
During his time in private practice, Mr. McSwain frequently volunteered his services in support of constitutional rights, often winning long-shot cases of national significance. For example, in Intel Corporation v. Hamidi, the California Supreme Court established the legal rules for trespass liability on the Internet, ruling in favor of Mr. McSwain’s client, Mr. Kenneth Hamidi. In Freethought Society v. County of Chester, PA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that an historic plaque of the Ten Commandments could remain on the façade of the Chester County Courthouse, finding in favor of the County, Mr. McSwain’s client. And in Cradle of Liberty, Boy Scouts of America v. City of Philadelphia, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. McSwain’s client, the Boy Scouts, which allowed the Scouts to remain in their historic headquarters building in Philadelphia.
Having worked with Mr. McSwain at the outset of his legal career, Judge Rendell offered a unique perspective on his capabilities to lead the Office: “I know Bill McSwain will lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office with same brilliance, balance, and professionalism that he has shown in his legal career to date. Once a terrific law clerk for me, he will surely be a terrific United States attorney for the people of our region.”
Prior to becoming an attorney, Mr. McSwain served as an infantry officer and scout/sniper platoon commander in the United States Marine Corps. In 1996, he deployed to the Persian Gulf region with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). While on deployment, he received the Navy Achievement Medal for joint operations with snipers from the Royal Jordanian Army. Mr. McSwain received the General William E. Potts award as the class honor graduate of the intelligence officer course at Fort Huachuca, AZ and was also an honor graduate of USMC Officer Candidates School and The Basic School in Quantico, VA.
Mr. McSwain was the 1987 class valedictorian of Henderson High School in West Chester, PA. He earned a B.A. in Economics, with honors, from Yale University in 1991. He earned his J.D. from the Harvard Law School in 2000, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. While at Harvard, he was a member of the winning team in the Ames Moot Court competition and received the George S. Leisure award as the Best Oralist in the Ames competition.
Mr. McSwain was raised in West Chester and resides there today with his wife, Stephanie, and their four children, Connor, Brady, Nancy, and Billy. He is the first Chester County native to hold the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“The Oath I took today reaffirms my commitment to the cause of justice for the people in the Eastern District,” McSwain commented. “It is the same Oath every Assistant United States Attorney in my Office takes on the first day on the job. And in that sense, we fully commit ourselves together to keep our communities safe.”