TAMPA — To colleagues, A. Brian Albritton is "a lawyer's lawyer," the man they call when faced with a legal quandary.
On Tuesday, the White House named Albritton as its pick for the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida, the top federal prosecutor for a region of the state that includes Tampa Bay.
"I'm pleased," said Albritton, 51. "I'm looking forward to proceeding forward with the process and hopefully being confirmed by the Senate."
Albritton, a Tampa native, is a partner at Holland & Knight and serves as president of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
"He probably has the best judgment of any lawyer I know," said attorney Jack Fernandez, who has known Albritton since elementary school. "He's smart, he's tenacious. He's been aggressive without being overly aggressive in defending cases. He's an extraordinarily ethical guy."
Added attorney Stephen Crawford: "He's the type of guy that when we have legal issues, we call Brian."
If confirmed, Albritton would replace interim U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill, who stepped in as James R. Klindt left in October to become a magistrate judge in Jacksonville. A judicial nominating committee recommended Albritton and two others — Dennis Moore, an assistant U.S. attorney in Tampa, and F.T. "Frank" Williams, an assistant U.S. attorney in Gainesville — to Florida Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson for consideration.
O'Neill did not apply.
"(Albritton) is an imminently qualified candidate," said Ken Lundberg, Martinez's spokesman. "The senator commends the White House for the nomination and looks forward to a swift confirmation by the Senate."
But first, the Senate Judiciary Committee will review Albritton's application. It's unclear how long that process could take.
Albritton has been nominated to serve a four-year term. Local attorneys who know him say he's not a politically motivated man and consider him the best nominee no matter who controls the White House.
"I think Brian is so well respected across the board that whoever the new president is will listen to the local folks" and keep him, Fernandez said. "I think that if he's nominated, he will be there for a long time."
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan said the community would be "blessed" to have Albritton serve.
"You know he would be able to make fair, nonpolitical decisions," Sheehan said. "He's lived a nice clean life of working honestly and hard and doing the right thing, and I guess enough people got the message through that he got the nomination."
In his personal life, friends know Albritton as a family man with a wife and two sons — one in college and one in high school — who participates in campouts through Saint Mary's Episcopal Church's father's ministry.
George Leach, who has known Albritton 20 years, recalled that he took seminary classes in college. Leach said that's evident at their father's ministry meetings.
"I was always impressed with that," Leach said.
Friend and fellow church member John Genter echoed those sentiments.
"It's nice to know someone with this type of family values is in this position," he said.
Kevin Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3433.