Legal career, Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974), U.S. Attorney, U.S. Senate appointment (1980)
Paula D. Silsby was born on June 1, 1951, in Bangor, Maine, to Ruth Blaisdell and Herbert Trafton Silsby II; her father was an attorney practicing at Silsby & Silsby and became a superior court judge. Paula was graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1973 and the University of Maine Law School in 1976. From 1977 to 2001, she served as assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maine, and as chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1994 to 2001. She has received the Caroline Duby Glassman Award from the Maine Bar Association, Attorney General Janet Reno’s Director’s Award for Executive Achievement, and the Deborah Morton Award from the University of New England. In 2001 she was appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Maine on an interim basis by Attorney General John Ashcroft. She was reappointed and continued to serve in that capacity at the time of this interview.
Interview includes discussion of: Silsby’s family background in law; Paula’s family’s role in Maine politics; Paula’s experiences at Mount Holyoke College; how Paula met George Mitchell while he was campaigning for governor in 1974; her internship for Peter Mills while she was in law school at the University of Maine; Silsby’s clerkship at the Superior Court in Portland; meeting George Mitchell as a clerk for the Superior Court; how Paula was hired to work for George Mitchell when he became U.S. attorney in 1977; what Mitchell was like as a boss; how Jay McCloskey began working for Mitchell; working for Bill Brownell; Silsby’s reaction to Mitchell’s appointment to the U.S. Senate; description of work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office under Mitchell; and Mitchell’s style in the courtroom.
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