The search for a new U.S. attorney for the eastern region of Pennsylvania has now moved into high gear, with about 20 lawyers and judges interviewed last week in a marathon session in Harrisburg.

President Obama will make the formal nomination, after the recommendation of Pennsylvania's two Democratic senators - Bob Casey and Arlen Specter. It was unclear how quickly a nominee would be announced.

The 16-member panel that conducted the interviews was chaired by two Philadelphia lawyers: Tom Kline, a law partner of Specter's son, Shanin; and Robert Ross, a law partner of Casey's younger brother, Matt. Another of Casey's brothers, Christopher, also a lawyer in the city, was on the panel.

The group interviewed candidates for U.S. attorney jobs in the Western and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania, as well as in the Eastern District - more than 40 people in all.

In an interview yesterday, Kline said the panel reached a "consensus" on recommending a number of "qualified candidates" for each of the jobs. He declined to name names.

Diversity is expected to be a factor in the selection, and Kline said the recommended list for the Eastern District included a "deep and diverse group of candidates."

Those interviewed for the Philadelphia post include city District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Jane Cutler Greenspan, both Democrats.

Others interviewed include current U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy and former federal prosecutors Zane Memeger, Cheryl A. Krause, Elizabeth K. Ainslie, James J. Eisenhower, J. Huntley Palmer, Walter M. Phillips Jr., A. Roy DeCaro, and Amy L. Kurland, who is now Philadelphia's inspector general. Assistant U.S. Attorney L.C. Wright also appeared before the panel.

Another lawyer whose name has circulated is Carolyn P. Short, former general counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee when it was headed by Specter, but sources said that she did not apply.

Levy, who is well-regarded by judges and prosecutors, was named U.S. attorney in May by the Justice Department to replace Laurie Magid, a Republican who is now handling appeals in the office. Levy was approved for the post by the board of judges of the U.S. District Court.