published Friday, November 5th, 2010

Reception welcomes U.S. attorney

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    Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press/ Nov 4, 2010 - United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, William C. Killian (Bill Killian) dries his eyes before speaking at a reception following his swearing in to office Thursday at the Chattanooga Trade and Convention Center.

His new title as the "honorable" U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee might confuse some of his friends, Bill Killian says.

"They guys who play golf with me, [they] might be stunned that I'd be addressed as honorable in anything," said Killian, laughing Thursday evening at a private event held at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

In May, President Barack Obama picked Killian, a lawyer in Marion County for the past 32 years, to lead federal prosecution programs in East Tennessee.

During the reception, Curtis Collier, chief U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District, called Killian's appointment a high honor and said he was confident in Killian's ability to perform as one of the state's top federal prosecutors.

"He has made tremendous sacrifices for this position," Collier said.

Killian, who became visibly emotional several times in his address, cried when talking about playing for the first integrated basketball team at his high school in South Pittsburg. Two of his teammates were present at the reception, he said.

"We suffered through some times," he said. "It galvanized me against discrimination, and that's a good thing."

He also discussed the difficulty facing him in his new job and said he plans to work hard to prosecute major terrorism and drug cases in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

"I'm kind of like a boxer in the ring," he said. "I expect to meet the punches in this office and keep fighting. ... If at the end I didn't perform with distinction, it's not because I didn't try with every ounce of energy I had."

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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