When Eric H. Holder Jr. first joined the U.S. Department of Justice in 1976, he was fresh out of Columbia Law School, assigned to a public-integrity unit and sent to earn his stripes battling corruption. So he came to Pennsylvania. Here, he racked up high-profile convictions – including a Scranton-area mob capo and a bribe-taking Philadelphia judge, the Philadelphia Inquirer says in a profile of the attorney general-designate. Despite making one error that earned him a stern critique from a federal judge, he quickly impressed savvy observers of the state’s legal scene.
“You were very comfortable with him,” said U.S. District Judge William J. Nealon, the longtime judge for whom Scranton’s federal courthouse is named. “He was very deferential and very professional. I would have predicted a brilliant future for him.” In 1988, after successfully prosecuting Court of Common Pleas Judge Herbert R. Cain Jr. for taking bribes, Holder said the court system in Philadelphia “is filled [with corruption] to a degree that I’ve never seen in 11 years with the Justice Department.” He add, “The system stinks.”