By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports
U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson will step down on February 25th. She has served almost twenty years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including the last six in charge of the district of Idaho.
It’s customary for political appointees to serve at the discretion of the president. Having been sworn in by President Barack Obama, Olson anticipated a change would be coming under the new Trump administration. “I wanted to be able to chose my own departure date and move on at a date that worked for me,” Olson said.
Days after she decided to resign her post, Olson charged Kelly Schneider on federal hate crimes, alleging assault based on the victim’s sexual orientation after the beating death of Steven Nelson in April 2016. “It is my case, and I will get as much done on it as I can before I have to leave.” Olson said. Schneider pleaded guilty on Jan. 25.
The indictment is a good mirror of her service in the office, working until the last minute and focusing on civil rights violations. “Any of the lawyers we have in this office are outstanding and folk will make sure this (case) has an orderly transition.” Olson said.
She was involved with several high profile incidents, including the terrorism case against Fazliddin Kurbanov, reviewing the Corrections Corporation of America incident involving falsified documents, filing an amicus brief on Idaho’s public defense system, and investigating the officer-involved shooting of Jack Yantis.
Olson had a diverse tenure but said “an office of outstanding lawyers and support staff that work hard every day for the U.S. and the people” and “civil rights enforcement” are the legacies she is most proud of.
The office will not change significantly in her absence, Olson said. “The goals of the people who work in this office are not to do what I want, it is to follow the law and to follow the constitution.” No matter who fills her position, she added, “I’m confident things will continue to be done that way.”
The future is open for Olson but she does plan to stay in Boise. “I have family here and I anticipate I will go into private practice,” she said. “I am not going to run for political office. I have no interest in running for political office.”
So moving forward the people of Idaho will have to pay Wendy Olson out of their own pockets for her legal expertise.