Channing D. Phillips is an attorney based in Washington, D.C., who is being tapped to serve on his third term as Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips has been named the temporary replacement of the outgoing U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin. He departs the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia at the request of President-elect Joe Biden. Despite having been nominated by President Biden as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, by virtue of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillips will step in as the interim Chief Federal Law Enforcement Official for the District of Columbia, beginning on March 4, 2021. He shall serve in the position for a maximum of 300 days, or until a permanent Top Federal Prosecutor has been confirmed into position by the Senate. Phillips is a veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice and of the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Table of Contents
- Educational Background and Bar Admissions
- Professional Career
- Legal Career – Clerkship and Government Service
- Legal Career – Work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Legal Career – Work in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Most Notable Cases Prosecuted by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips
- Teaching Background and Volunteer Work
- Office Jurisdiction
- Family Background
- Contact Details of Channing Phillips
- Social Media Profiles of Channing Phillips
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia welcomes First Assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Duward Phillips as their new interim Chief Federal Law Enforcement Official. Channing D. Phillips is taking the reins from the outgoing U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, who served as the Office’s interim Top Federal Prosecutor from May of 2020 to March of 2021. Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin will be leaving his post on March 3 at the request of President-elect Joe Biden, which is a part of a routine in the Department of Justice. During an all-U.S. Attorney call last February 9, the Trump-era appointees have been tasked by Acting U.S. Attorney General Robert M. “Monty” Wilkinson to vacate their posts by the end of the month of February, allowing the Biden Administration to freely nominate and confirm new U.S. Attorneys for the 96 districts across the United States. Top Federal Prosecutor Sherwin was requested to remain in position for a while longer, as he was overseeing the investigations of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, First Assistant U.S. Attorney will officially be named as the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. With a 300-day term as interim Chief Federal Law Enforcement Official, Phillips will temporarily lead the Office of the U.S. Attorney until a permanent U.S. Attorney has been nominated and confirmed into the position.
Educational Background and Bar Admissions
With a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Virginia, Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips graduated in May of 1980 and subsequently served a short stint at the University Transportation Services prior to attending Law School at the Southwestern University School of Law. After a year of taking classes at the Southwestern University, U.S. Attorney Phillips transferred to Howard University School of Law in August of 1984 and received his Juris Doctorate in May of 1986. Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips is an inactive member of the Pennsylvania Bar since 1987 and has been an active member of the District of Columbia Bar since 1988.
While attending law school, U.S. Attorney Phillips managed to serve as a Law Clerk and Investigator at the Mink, Neiman & Kinney from 1982 to 1983. The following year, he joined Morgan Associates, where he performed duties as a Law Clerk from 1984 to 1985. In his last year in law school, U.S. Attorney Phillips worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Howard University School of Law for a whole academic year. After his graduation, Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips returned to be a part of the Morgan Associates as a Law Clerk. He remained in the law firm for precisely a year before shifting to government service.
Legal Career – Clerkship and Government Service
Top Federal Prosecutor Phillips began serving in the government sector as a Judicial Law Clerk to The Honorable Shellie F. Bowers of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in September of 1987. He remained working under Superior Court Judge Bowers for approximately three years until August of 1990. Following his clerkship, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips became a part of the United States Department of Justice as a Trial Attorney in the Organized Crime & Racketeering Section of the Criminal Division. For your years, from September 1990 to August of 1994, U.S. Attorney Phillips prosecuted numerous cases, including two high-profile, racketeering, criminal cases that were linked to the La Cosa Nostra crime families in South Florida. In 1994, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips joined the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia as a line Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Office’s Criminal Division. During the first three years of his career in the Office, his area of practice focused on the prosecution of misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from drug trafficking to illegal possession of firearms, immigration violations, public corruption, and violent crimes. On top of this, U.S. Attorney Phillips also briefly argued criminal cases before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Legal Career – Work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office
After several years of working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, interim Chief Federal Law Enforcement Official Phillips became a part of the Office’s management team. Beginning in 1997, U.S. Attorney Phillips started handling a number of leadership roles, including being a Special Counsel to the United States Attorney for almost four years, from August of 1997 to April of 2001; the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Attorney for over three years, from May of 2001 to June of 2004; and the Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney of the Office for five years, from June of 2004 to May of 2009. Moreover, it is not the first time that U.S. Attorney Phillips handled the highest position in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Between May 2009 to February 2010 and October 2015 to September 2017, Channing Phillips served as the Office’s interim Top Federal Prosecutor. He was confronted with a number of significant internal and external challenges. During his first term as Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Phillips faced difficulties due to budget cuts, the roll-out and expansion of Community Prosecution, the rise and fall of the murder rate in the district, and the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.
Legal Career – Work in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
Returning to the Main Justice in 2010, Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips served for almost half a month as a Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. DOJ before being named First Deputy Associate Attorney General for Diversity Management. In this capacity, Phillips played a key role in developing and implementing the Attorney General’s Diversity Management Plan. He remained in the position for more than a year, from May 2010 to August 2011, before becoming the Senior Counsel to the Attorney General. Since August of 2011, U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips has actively advised the Attorney General on a number of significant matters, including providing counsel on a wide range of criminal justice issues and cases. For a little over four years, Phillips worked on several key initiatives of the department, including representing the Attorney General on the Department’s Criminal Justice Reform Working Group, wherein he was tasked to focus on the development and implementation of the “Smart on Crime” initiative of the Attorney General. More than this, U.S. Attorney Phillips was also able to work on other key initiatives, such as the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and the program which aimed to build community trust with the local law enforcement.
Most Notable Cases Prosecuted by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips
With more than three decades of serving under the U.S. Department of Justice and almost 10 years of performing duties in the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, interim Chief Federal Law Enforcement Official Channing D. Phillips has handled an array of criminal prosecutions, including the 1997 fraud case against Martinez, who attempted to bring Bolivian residents into the country using false documents; the 1996 assault case against Smith who fired several rounds against another individual, who later died as a result of his shotgun wounds; and the 1995 case against Pennic who has been indicted for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
Teaching Background and Volunteer Work
On November 21, 1997, Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips served as a guest lecturer on homicide prosecutions at the University of Virginia School of Law. He also previously did a lecture at George Washington University in 1996. Currently, U.S. Attorney Phillips is serving as a volunteer to Lincoln-Westmoreland, Inc., a charitable organization that aims to provide low-income apartments and housing in Washington, D.C.
As the incumbent Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing D. Phillips is in command of the largest among the 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the nation. Interim Top Federal Prosecutor Phillips leads a staff of more than 660 employees, consisting of 330 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 330 support personnel, who are all dedicated to criminal law enforcement. The Office of the United States attorney for the District of Columbia is not only responsible for prosecuting all of the federal crimes within the jurisdiction of the district, but the Office shall also prosecute all serious local crimes that adults in the District of Columbia commit. In addition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is also in charge of representing the United States, along with its departments and agencies, in all civil proceedings that are filed in the federal court in the District of Columbia.
Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips was born and raised in Washington, D.C., by his loving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Channing E. Phillips. A minister and civil rights activist, Channing E. Phillips, holds the title of being the first-ever African-American to have been nominated for President of the United States at a Democratic National Convention in 1968. The wife of Channing E. Phillips and the mother of Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips is none other than Jane Celeste.
Contact Details of Channing Phillips
Full Name: Channing D. Phillips
District/State: District of Columbia
Public email ID: [email protected]
District of Columbia
United States Attorney’s Office
555 4th Street, NW
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Social Media Profiles of Channing Phillips
Username: Channing D. Phillips
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Updated: August 30, 2021
Matthew M. Graves is the next State’s Attorney for the District of Columbia. His biography can be found here.
Updated: March 17, 2022