United States Attorney Karen Loeffler hosted an open house to celebrate the opening of the Justice Department's Alaska Juneau Branch Office, located in the downtown Federal Building.
"There is a need to serve Southeast Alaska," Loeffler said.
Loeffler, who is based out of Anchorage, has been with the U.S. Attorney's office for 21 years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt, a 1989 JDHS graduate with a law degree from San Diego's California Western School of Law, will head up the office in Juneau. Working with him will be a legal assistant. Schmidt began work in September out of the FBI office while waiting for the new branch office to open. He previously worked as a District Attorney in Juneau.
"The main issue is to have some federal presence within Southeast," Schmidt said. "Having an office here will facilitate that. In the past, agents or departments were doing cases here and many of their offices were in Anchorage. Hopefully we will have more federal prosecutions here."
If there is an overflow of cases and Schmidt is not available, Loeffler said the Anchorage office can fly down to assist.
"The benefit to Alaska is that Jack has already made many connections with the law enforcement personnel and the community," Loeffler said. "It helps us to better understand the community's needs."
The Alaska U.S. Attorney's Juneau branch office was first initiated by Anchorage-based U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess, but it was long sought after by both the USAO and the Department of Justice. Alaska was one of the few states that had no DOJ presence in the state capital.
"I just happened to be there at the time to put the package together," Burgess said. "It is an important commitment by the department of justice to not just serve a community, but to be in a community on a full time basis."
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