Posts Tagged ‘Western District of Arkansas’
Friday, May 20th, 2011

The Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office this week secured the first conviction at trial of an individual under a 2009 law designed to give the federal government more tools to fight hate crimes, putting a spotlight on the office’s new U.S. Attorney.

William Conner Eldridge, Jr. (gov)

William Conner Eldridge Jr., whom the Senate confirmed in December, heads one of the smallest U.S. Attorneys’ offices in terms of caseload.

A federal jury convicted Frankie Maybee under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for injuring and threatening five Hispanic men. Co-defendant Sean Popejoy has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the incident.

Popejoy allegedly yelled racial epithets at the men and brandished a tire wrench at them from the window of a truck that Maybee drove to chase after the men who were driving away from a gas station. Maybee rammed his truck into the men’s car several times causing the vehicle to crash into a tree and ignite.

The Hispanic men were injured in the crash. One man had life-threatening injuries.

“We thank the jury for their careful consideration, and for their verdict.  It is horrific that acts of violence are committed against complete strangers because of their race,” Eldridge said in a statement. He added: “In the Western District of Arkansas, we will continue to prosecute acts of violence that are motivated by hatred of another’s race.”

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Friday, December 10th, 2010
Charles M. Oberly III (Drinker Biddle)

Charles M. Oberly III (Drinker Biddle)

The Senate on Friday confirmed three U.S. Attorney nominees by unanimous consent.

They are:

-- Charles Oberly (Delaware): Of counsel to Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Oberly was nominated on Sept. 16 to succeed Colm Connolly, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in 2007. Read more about Oberly here.

Ripley Rand (Gov)

- Ripley Rand (Middle District of North Carolina): The North Carolina Superior Court judge was tapped on July 28 to succeed Anna Mills S. Wagoner, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney in August. Read more about him here and here.

Conner Eldridge (Summit Bank)

- William Conner Eldridge Jr. (Western District of Arkansas): The special deputy prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Ark., and former chief executive officer for Summit Bank in Arkansas was nominated on Sept. 29 to succeed Robert Balfe, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in January 2009. Read more about Eldridge here.

The Senate has now confirmed 75 U.S. Attorneys. The chamber has yet to consider another four would-be U.S. Attorneys, who are still waiting for consideration by the full Senate. There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts located throughout the nation.

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved three U.S. Attorney nominees by voice vote at its meeting Thursday.

They are:

Charles M. Oberly III (Drinker Biddle)

Charles M. Oberly III (Drinker Biddle)

-- Charles Oberly (Delaware): The of counsel to Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP was nominated on Sept. 16 to succeed Colm Connolly, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in 2007. Read more about Oberly here.

Ripley Rand (Gov)

- Ripley Rand (Middle District of North Carolina): The North Carolina Superior Court judge was tapped on July 28 to succeed Anna Mills S. Wagoner, who stepped down as U.S. Attorney in August. Read more about him here and here.

Conner Eldridge (Summit Bank)

- William Conner Eldridge Jr. (Western District of Arkansas): The special deputy prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Ark., and former chief executive officer for Summit Bank in Arkansas was nominated on Sept. 29 to succeed Robert Balfe, who resigned as U.S. Attorney in January 2009. Read more about Eldridge here.

The committee has now endorsed 75 of Barack Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees, 72 of whom have won Senate confirmation. The panel has yet to consider another two would-be U.S. Attorneys. There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts.

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee is slated to consider the nominee to lead the Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office at its Nov. 18 meeting.

Conner Eldridge (Summit Bank)

President Barack Obama nominated William Conner Eldridge Jr. on Sept. 29 to replace Deborah J. Groom, who has led the U.S. Attorney’s office since the resignation of former U.S. Attorney Robert Balfe in January 2009.

Eldridge was the chief executive officer for Summit Bank in Arkansas before he stepped down this year. He is currently a special deputy prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Ark. Read more about him here.

The panel has yet to schedule votes for another four would-be U.S. Attorneys. The committee has approved 72 of Obama’s U.S. Attorney nominees, all of whom have won Senate confirmation.

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

William Conner Eldridge Jr. (Davidson College, University of Arkansas School of Law) was nominated on Sept. 29 to be the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. He would replace Deborah J. Groom, who has served as U.S. Attorney since George W. Bush appointee Robert Balfe resigned in January 2009.

His vitals:

Conner Eldridge (Summit Bank)

  • Born in Fayetteville, Ark., in 1977.
  • Has been a special deputy prosecutor in Clark County, Ark., since 2009.
  • Has been vice chairman of Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp Inc. in Arkansas since 2007. He joined the bank in 2004 as vice president for credit administration and assistant general counsel. In 2005, he became vice president for lending and assistant general counsel. From 2005 to 2006, he was Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp Inc. Arkadelphia Regional bank president. From 2006 to 2008, he served as corporate executive vice president and senior counsel; and from 2008 to 2010, he was chief executive officer for the bank.
  • Has been a board member of Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp Inc. since 2005.
  • Has been secretary-treasurer, director and counsel on a limited and as-needed basis for Horizon Timber Services in Arkansas since 2005.
  • Has been a counsel on a limited and as-needed basis for the Whipple Family Limited Partnership since 2004.
  • Was a limited partner of the Whipple Family Banking Partnership from 2004 to 2009.
  • Served as director of Travel Nurse Across America in North Little Rock, Ark., from 2004 to 2005.
  • Clerked for U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele of the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2003 to 2004.
  • Spent stints as a law clerk at the Washington County Prosecutor’s Office in Arkansas; Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates and Woodyard PLLC in Little Rock, Ark.; Bass, Berry and Sims PLC in Memphis, Tenn.; Wright, Lindsey and Jennings LLP in Little Rock; Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull and Burrow PLLC in Little Rock and the Eldridge Law Firm in Fayetteville from 2000 to 2003.
  • Served as a legislative assistant to Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) from 1999 to 2000.
  • Was a legislative correspondent for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) in 1999.
  • Served as a candidate assistant to Lincoln in her 1998 campaign for Senate.
  • Was named “Most Likely to Succeed in the Practice of Law” by the University of Arkansas School of Law.
  • Was listed in the Arkansas Business’s “Top 40 under 40.”
  • Has tried 39 cases to verdict, serving as chief counsel in 36 cases and associate counsel in three cases.
  • He has not practiced in federal court, only Arkansas state court.

Click here for his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.

On his Senate Judiciary financial disclosure, Eldridge reported assets valued at $15.7 million, mostly from the Whipple Family partnerships, and $507,000 in liabilities mostly from mortgages, for a net worth of $15 million.

UPDATE: On his Office of Government Ethics financial disclosure, Eldridge reported making $409,499.88 since January 2009 as an official at Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp Inc. He also reported receiving $123,052.18 from the Whipple Family Banking Partnership and $102,020.33 from the Ross M. Whipple Children’s Trust since January 2009.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated a former bank executive to lead the Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Conner Eldridge (Summit Bank)

William Conner Eldridge Jr., 33, was the chief executive officer for Summit Bank in Arkansas before he stepped down this year. He is currently a special deputy prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Clark County, Ark.

Eldridge would replace Deborah J. Groom, who has led the U.S. Attorney’s office since the resignation of former U.S. Attorney Robert Balfe in January 2009.

The then-bank executive was initially recommended for the job last year by Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, both Democrats.

A black state prosecutor, Carlton Jones, was also under consideration before he decided to withdraw from consideration earlier this year amid rising frustration among Arkansas black leaders about the glacial pace of the nominating process.

Eldridge graduated from Davidson College in 1999 and the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2003. He clerked for U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2003 to 2004.

In a statement, Lincoln said Eldridge is a former member of her Senate staff and said he “enjoys widespread support in the state.”

If confirmed, Eldridge would appear to be the youngest U.S. Attorney appointed during the Obama administration. Brendan Johnson, the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota and son of Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), was 34 years old when he was nominated last year.

Obama has now nominated 78 U.S. Attorneys, 66 of whom have won Senate confirmation and one of whom has said he would withdraw. There are 93 U.S. Attorney posts located throughout the nation.

This article has been updated.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) told Main Justice Tuesday that she was not surprised that a black state prosecutor took himself out of the running for an Arkansas U.S. Attorney post.

Blanche Lincoln (Gov)

Carlton Jones, chief deputy prosecutor in Arkansas’s Miller and Lafayette counties, removed himself from consideration for Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney late last month. On Friday, he filed to run for prosecuting attorney in Miller and Lafayette counties.

“You know, I think [running for prosecuting attorney] is something he wanted to do all along,” Lincoln said.

Jones did not immediately respond for a request for comment. But he previously told Main Justice that he decided to withdraw because he wanted to run for prosecuting attorney and because he did not want to move his family from Texarkana to Fort Smith, where the Western District office is based.

The state prosecutor was initially recommended by Lincoln and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for a federal judgeship in the state. Lincoln demurred when asked how Jones moved from a judicial to a U.S. Attorney candidate.

“You have to ask the White House that,” Lincoln said.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pryor and Lincoln have been under increasing pressure from African American leaders in Arkansas to recommend black judicial candidates, which may explain why Jones’s name turned up on their list for a federal judgeship. Congressional Quarterly reported that members of the state’s black legal association met with the senators last month to express their disappointment with the lack of black candidates for federal judicial posts in the state.

“We will continue to work with the African American community,” Lincoln said. The Democratic senator added that she was “proud” of her decision to recommend Jones.

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A black state prosecutor has taken himself out of the running for an Arkansas U.S. Attorney post amid confusion about the nominating process and rising tensions between African-American leaders and state Democrats over a lack of black judicial appointees.

Carlton Jones, chief deputy prosecutor in Arkansas’s Miller and Lafayette counties, removed himself from consideration for Western District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney late last month after meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the job in Washington on Feb. 18.

Carlton Jones (University of Arkansas School of Law)

In an interview with Main Justice, Jones, 48, said he ultimately decided to withdraw for family reasons.

“Really and truly, I was intrigued by the possibility of being U.S. Attorney,” said Jones, who has served as a state prosecutor for more than 20 years. But he said it was “in the best interest for me and my family” not to uproot them from their home in Texarkana to Fort Smith, where the Western District office is based.

Along the way to this decision, Jones’ path took several odd turns.

He said he applied for the U.S. Attorney job last year. But Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor instead recommended him to be a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas last May after another candidate for the seat, state circuit court Judge James S. Hudson Jr., died.

At the same time, the senators announced another slate of candidates for the U.S. Attorney post:  William Conner Eldridge Jr., a 31-year-old chief executive officer of Summit Bank; Arkansas Assistant Attorney General Shawn J. Johnson; and Western District Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher D. Plumlee. Read the senators’ joint statement on their recommendations here.

Lincoln and Pryor have been under increasing pressure from African American leaders in Arkansas to recommend black judicial candidates, which may explain why Jones’s name turned up on their list for a federal judgeship. Congressional Quarterly reported that members of the state’s black legal association met with the senators last month to express their disappointment with the lack of black candidates for federal judicial posts in the state.

Jones said he did not know how he ultimately ended up back in the pool of candidates for the U.S. Attorney nomination. The White House has worked hard to recruit black U.S. Attorney candidates, especially in the South, and may have played a role in putting Jones back in play for the prosecuting position. A White House spokesman, Ben LaBolt, did not respond to requests for comment.

But Jones is not waiting around to find out. On Friday, he filed to run for prosecuting attorney in Miller and Lafayette counties.

Representatives for Lincoln and Pryor did not respond to requests for comment. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department does not comment on U.S. Attorney candidates until a presidential nomination is made. “The White House has not nominated anyone for the Western District of Arkansas,” Melissa Schwartz said. “We do not comment [on] rumored potential candidates.”

Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Marion Humphrey, who leads the W. Harold Flowers Law Society, previously known as the Arkansas Black Lawyers Association, said black leaders in the state are puzzled about the decision to make Jones a candidate for U.S. Attorney instead of a finalist for a federal judgeship.

“I expected more out of the Obama administration than that,” Humphrey told Main Justice. “It seems rather strange that this White House would do that.”

The senators have not announced any other black candidates for federal judgeships in the state.

Pryor is not up for re-election until 2014, but Lincoln is running for a third term this year and she is viewed as one of the most vulnerable of Senate Democrats. She recently drew a Democratic primary challenge from Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Black voters are an important constituency for Democrats in Arkansas, where African-Americans make up 16 percent of the state’s population.

But some black leaders say they aren’t happy.

“We are now in an election season and we can’t say we got anything productive out of the Democratic Party,” Arkansas NAACP president Dale Charles said in an interview with Main Justice. “We’re not satisfied with being left out of the process.”

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

A crippling blizzard pounding the East Coast has forced nearly a dozen U.S. Attorney’s offices to close and has curtailed Justice Department operations in Washington today, according to DOJ officials.

A weekend snowstorm shut down the Justice Department on Monday. (photo by Ryan J. Reilly).

Many DOJ employees who work at DOJ headquarters in Washington and at U.S. Attorney’s offices stretching from Virginia to Rhode Island are working from home on BlackBerries, cell phone and laptops, the officials said.

The Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, the DOJ’s main building, is open for essential personnel who are able to make it through the heavy snow and 40 mile per hour winds. There are about 25,300 people who work for DOJ agencies in the Washington area, according to CNN.

Several U.S. Attorney’s offices and DOJ headquarters have been closed or have had limited operations since Monday because of a storm that brought more than a foot of snow to most of the East Coast last weekend, according to reports here and here.

Today’s storm hit while authorities were still struggling to clean up from the last one.

The U.S. Attorney’s offices that are closed today are in:

  • Maryland. The office was also closed on Monday.
  • The District of Columbia. The office has been closed since Monday.
  • The Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria office). The office has been closed since Monday.
  • The Western District of Virginia (Charlottesville and Harrisonburg offices).
  • The Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
  • The Middle District of Pennsylvania.
  • The Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and Johnstown offices).
  • The Eastern District of New York.
  • New Jersey.
  • Rhode Island.
  • Delaware.

U.S. Attorney’s offices in the Eastern District of Arkansas, Western District of Arkansas, Northern District of Oklahoma, Western District of Tennessee and Kansas were shuttered on Monday because of the weather, according to CNN. The Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office was also closed on Tuesday, CNN said.

DOJ spokesperson Gina Talamona told Main Justice that DOJ public safety and national security functions are “operational.” She added that the DOJ has made special arrangements for its legal division attorneys to work during the storms and keep up with court deadlines.

This report has been corrected from an earlier version.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

A George W. Bush U.S. Attorney from Arkansas is a potential candidate to succeed Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) if the House member decides to run for Senate.

Republican Bob Balfe, who served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas from 2004 to 2008, told Main Justice that he is considering a possible run for the seat in northwest Arkansas that Boozman has held for five terms.

Bob Balfe (Mitchell Williams)

“I have received several calls encouraging me to consider making a run and we are strongly looking into it,” said Balfe, who is a lawyer at the Mitchell Williams law firm at its Rogers, Ark., office. Read his bio here.

Talk Business first reported that Balfe was one of several possible Republican contenders for the seat. Boozman has been making calls to Arkansas Republicans to gauge support for making a late entry into the GOP primary race for the right to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) this fall.

In central Arkansas, former Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin, who also served under Bush, is running for the House. Griffin, a Republican, is a frontrunner in the race to succeed Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), who isn’t running for reelection. State Sen. Gilbert Baker (R) is also being mentioned as a Republican candidate for the Little Rock-based seat.

Democrats face strong political headwinds in this fall’s midterm elections. Polls show unhappiness over proposed health care reforms, and GOP candidates won  last year in governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey. On Tuesday, Republican Scott Brown won a special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat left open by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D).

This post has been updated from an earlier version.