William McSwain sworn in as U.S. Attorney
Chester County native lauded by Pennsylvania dignitaries
PHILADELPHIA» Chester County native William M. McSwain was formally installed into the office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Friday in the halls of the federal courthouse here, the first of his kind to do so, not too many steps from the landmarks of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
And despite the dignitaries who packed the courtroom to see McSwain sworn in to the position he was appointed to earlier this year, the proceedings made clear that McSwain’s connection with family and friends were not lost in the proceedings.
Present in Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel’s courtroom were U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, as well as U.S. Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell, for whom McSwain served as clerk as a law school graduate and who administered the formal oath of office.
But also there were his close friends John J. Soroko, chairman emeritus of the prestigious Duane Morris law firm, and Samuel G. Williamson of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. As was his family, wife Stephanie, sons Connor, Brady, and Billy, and daughter Nancy, as well as parents Holland McSwain Jr. and Lucy McSwain and in-laws Bill and Nancy Pollock.
His youngest child, Billy, a student at Pierce Middle School in West Goshen, where McSwain and his future wife grew up as friends, led those in the courtroom in the Pledge of Allegiance.
“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.”
In contrast to the debates on Capitol Hill concerning the role of the Department of Justice in today’s news, McSwain has said that he would hew himself to a simple standard. “The thing that unifies us is that this is a job where politics and political considerations do not drive what we do,” he told a Daily Local News reporter earlier this week. “The people in the Department of Justice are committed to the rule of law, and are committed to the fair application of the law.
McSwain was nominated as 39th U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 20. He assumed office on April 6.
“Bill McSwain will make an outstanding U.S. attorney,” said Toomey, who guided McSwain’s nomination through the U.S. Senate with the consideration of his colleague Casey. “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 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 Soroko, who McSwain has called a mentor, 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.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, over the last 18 years, McSwain has built a diverse trial practice. Most recently, he served as a partner at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath in its Philadelphia office, specializing in white collar criminal matters and complex business litigation. In 2016, he represented former Magisterial District Judge Mark Bruno in a ticket-related scandal in Philadelphia, helping to secure an acquittal for the long-serving district justice.
In addition to his other work, McSwain led the defense of Chester County’s 10 Commandments plaque on the entrance to the Historic Courthouse.
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 U.S. 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 war on terror.
Having worked with McSwain at the outset of his legal career, 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 the 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,” she said during the ceremony.
Prior to becoming an attorney, McSwain served as an infantry officer and scout/sniper platoon commander in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1996, he deployed to the Persian Gulf region with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and while in that position he received the Navy Achievement Medal for joint operations with snipers from the Royal Jordanian Army.
McSwain was the 1987 class valedictorian of West Chester’s B. Reed Henderson High School and graduated with honors from Yale University in 1991. He earned his law degree 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.
McSwain was raised in West Chester and resides here today with his wife and children. Speaking with the Daily Local News earlier this week, he commented that, “at my core, I’m just a regular person, a regular guy, hopefully with the kind of community values that people in West Chester and Chester County share and can be proud of.”
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.