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HAMMOND — Thomas L. Kirsch II's family and fellow members of the legal community were witnesses Thursday to his promise.

Kirsch told those who packed the U.S. District courtroom for his investiture as the 18th U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana he would fight public corruption, violent crime and the opioid drug crisis.

"The blows will be hard, but not foul," he said, adding he respects the legal rights of all criminal defendants to hold government prosecutors to the highest standards of proof.

President Donald Trump nominated Kirsch in July, the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment in October and he was sworn into office in a private ceremony three months ago.

Although the law doesn't require a public investiture, Kirsch chose to start his job in a very public way to "answer the call to public service ... and defend the Constitution," according to the remarks of U.S. District Chief Judge Theresa Springmann.

U.S. District Court Judges Jon E. DeGuilio, Phillip P. Simon and Joseph Van Bokkelen, Seventh Circuit Appeals Court Judge Michael S. Kanne, retired Appeals Court Judge John D. Tinder, former U.S. Attorneys David Capp and Dan K. Webb, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and a number of assistant U.S. attorneys and defense attorneys were among those gathered.

Van Bokkelen and Capp hired Kirsch as an assistant U.S. attorney in 2001 on the recommendation of Tinder, who said he had come to admire Kirsch as his law clerk.

Tinder said it is great to know the potential he saw in Kirsch then has now been realized and Kirsch assumes the  "awesome power" of making decisions whether or not to charge people with crimes. "Tom has a pitch-in-attitude without seeking credit or accolades. He has the integrity and courage to make those decisions regardless of their popularity."

Kirsch served as an assistant U.S. attorney until 2008, focusing on white collar investigations and prosecutions, including the prosecution of numerous elected and appointed public officials.

Webb, who became partners with Kirsch at the Chicago law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, said he came to rely on him to defend major white collar crime defendants in venues as wide spread as Vienna, Austria; the Ukraine and London.

"Kirsch is smart. He is strategic. His work ethic is second to none. You've got a gem," Webb said.

A reception was held in Kirsch's honor at Munster's Center for Visual and Performing Arts following the ceremony.


Lake County Reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.