U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder visits district office in Fort Smith

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Fort Smith on Thursday (Jan. 30) as part of what is an effort by the nation’s top law enforcement officer to visit all 93 U.S. Attorney district offices around the country.

Joyce Snow, a spokeswoman for the office of Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, confirmed that Holder was visited the district office in downtown Fort Smith. Snow could only confirm the visit, and did not provide information on the length of the visit, areas toured or other details.

Jim Dunn, executive director of the U.S. Marshals Museum, said Holder did not stop at the planned site of the U.S. Marshals Museum. The Marshals Service is within Holder’s Department of Justice.

Fort Smith Regional Airport Director John Parker said a military aircraft landed at the airport around 9 a.m., with a motorcade picking up the occupants and transporting them to downtown Fort Smith.

A caravan of cars and SUVs transported Holder from TAC Air at the Fort Smith Regional Airport to the U.S. Attorney offices in downtown Fort Smith. Holder’s caravan returned to TAC Air around 1 p.m. on Thursday.

He visited Fort Smith the same day he issued a statement calling for the death penalty in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston bombers. Holder’s statement noted: “After consideration of the relevant facts, the applicable regulations and the submissions made by the defendant’s counsel, I have determined that the United States will seek the death penalty in this matter. The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision.”

Holder has served as the 82nd U.S. Attorney General since Feb. 3, 2009. Holder was also appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 to serve as Deputy Attorney General, and prior to that served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Eldridge has served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas since March 2011. He was 33 at the time.

Eldridge filled a post vacant since Jan. 4, 2009, when former U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe resigned to serve in the Northwest Arkansas law offices of Mitchell Selig Gates & Woodyard. Balfe served as the U.S. Attorney since November 2004.

Prior to coming to Fort Smith, Eldridge served as a Special Deputy Prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Arkansas since 2009. Eldridge previously worked for Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp, Inc., serving in various senior management positions.  He was ultimately named CEO in 2008.

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The Western District of Arkansas includes 34 counties stretching from Texarkana and El Dorado to Fayetteville and Fort Smith.

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