Eric Holder is Mum in Memphis

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Attorney General Eric Holder came to downtown Memphis Wednesday but didn't say anything about local federal investigations or when a new United States attorney for West Tennessee will be named.

Holder spoke to the National Black Prosecutors Association meeting at the Marriott Hotel, two blocks from City Hall and the federal building. He arrived in a caravan of seven black SUVs, ten motorcycle escorts, and a retinue of Secret Service agents.

The United States attorney's office is under the leadership of interim U.S. Attorney Larry Laurenzi, who attended the speech along with former U.S. Attorney Veronica Coleman. Permanent United States attorneys are usually named in the first year, sometimes the first few months, of a new presidential administration. Holder took no questions from the audience or the media.

The only reference he made to political corruption came in his 15-minute speech when he said the Justice Department dismissed its case against Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

"When we are wrong we will admit our mistakes," he said.

On other matters, Holder said the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department will be a priority of the Obama administration, federal mandatory sentencing laws in drug cases need to be reviewed, and Memphis holds a special meaning for black prosecutors because of the King assassination.

The crowd numbered about 150 people. Holder told them "prosecution is not the solution to every social ill" and said that "only on TV are the decisions of prosecutors sharply drawn in black and white."

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