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RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding notes that today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, the final draft of the Constitution was signed by 39 delegates. The document was then sent to the states for ratification, and went into effect on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.

This U.S. Attorney’s Office, and others like it across the nation, take special note of this day because of the bedrock role that the Constitution has played not only in the development of the American legal system in general, but also in the creation of U.S. Attorney’s Offices specifically. The framers of the Constitution included in Article III a mandate that federal courts be established below the United States Supreme Court to deal with federal legal cases across the Nation. In response to this mandate, Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which created federal district courts and courts of appeal. The Act also provided for the appointment in each judicial district of the United States of a “Person learned in the law to act as attorney for the United States . . . whose duty it shall be to prosecute in each district all delinquents for crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States.”

As one of the 13 original colonies, North Carolina, which was originally one judicial district, became one of the first districts to be assigned an appointee as United States Attorney. Mr. John Sitgreaves was commissioned on June 8, 1790. Prior to his service as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Sitgreaves was a distinguished member of the North Carolina Militia, who fought in the Revolutionary War for the principles that would soon be embedded in our Nation’s Constitution.

Since the days of Mr. Sitgreaves up to today, the Constitution is ever present in the work of the United States Attorney. Indeed, U.S. Attorneys were originally charged with the responsibility of prosecuting crimes specifically referenced in the Constitution such as piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. More recently, U.S. Attorneys have also been empowered to investigate and prosecute criminals who act to deprive others of their constitutional rights under color of state law. And, of course, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with all governmental agencies in our Nation, is happily bound to respect and abide by the guarantees of freedom and liberty laid out in the Constitution.

U.S. Attorney George E.B. Holding concludes in stating: “The role of the Constitution in the life of our nation, and in the history and mission of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, simply cannot be overstated, and we are pleased to honor this precious document on this very important day.”

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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