Here Are the Democrats Running for Manhattan D.A. (Published 2021) (2023)

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Eight candidates are vying to take over the country’s largest local prosecutor’s office. The winner will inherit a potential Trump investigation.

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Here Are the Democrats Running for Manhattan D.A. (Published 2021) (1)

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By Jonah E. Bromwich

Eight Democrats are running to replace Cyrus Vance Jr. as Manhattan district attorney, jockeying to lead one of the most well-known and influential local prosecutor’s offices in the country at a time when views of the criminal justice system have shifted.

The office is home to many high-profile investigations, including the ongoing inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump and his family business.

The contenders — five of whom have been prosecutors before and three of whom have not — mostly agree on a basic tenet: The office needs to change. But they are divided over just how far they would push reform efforts.

Polling in the race has been sparse, but a recent survey found that the fund-raising leaders, Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Alvin Bragg, are tied with the most support. Because the district attorney is a state election rather than a municipal one, voting will not be ranked choice, as it is in the citywide elections, and voters will select only one candidate.

Here’s a list of the candidates with details on their vision for the office.

Tahanie Aboushi, 35

Harlem

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Ms. Aboushi’s candidacy is informed by her experience as a young teenager seeing her father convicted on federal conspiracy charges and sentenced to prison for more than two decades.

As a result of that ordeal and its effect on her family, Ms. Aboushi says she has insight into the perspective of those who are and will be prosecuted by the office she hopes to lead, a striking approach in a prosecutorial race.

In a race filled with calls for reform, Ms. Aboushi is the candidate most consistently focused on the system itself and on making it less punitive. She has pledged to cut the office by at least half, and she has stressed the need for alternatives to incarceration wherever possible.

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Alvin Bragg, 47

Harlem

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Mr. Bragg, a lifelong resident of Harlem, has called for a balanced approach between civil rights and public safety. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he peppers his public appearances with stories about his personal life, frequently focusing on his and his family’s fraught encounters with the criminal justice system.

He said he first thought about being a prosecutor while clerking for a federal judge and seeing the way prosecutors could protect the public through major investigations. After serving as a civil rights lawyer, Mr. Bragg became a federal prosecutor, focusing on issues like police misconduct and public corruption. He led a unit in the New York attorney general’s office that investigated police killings of unarmed civilians, and later became a chief deputy state attorney general.

Liz Crotty, 50

Union Square

“I bring a breath of reality to the race,” Ms. Crotty said in an interview. The longtime resident of Lower Manhattan is the most traditional candidate in the race, more focused on public safety than on reform.

That puts her out of step with most of her colleagues, who have campaigned in large part on the racial biases in the criminal justice system. While she acknowledges that such biases exist, Ms. Crotty has said that rather than directing the office to stop prosecuting entire categories of crime, she would assess matters on a case-by-case basis. She has been endorsed by multiple police unions.

Ms. Crotty, who worked in the Manhattan district attorney’s office under Mr. Vance’s predecessor, Robert M. Morgenthau, has also pledged to strengthen the office’s investigations of white-collar crime.

Tali Farhadian Weinstein, 45

Upper East Side

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A Rhodes scholar, Ms. Farhadian Weinstein has a sterling résumé, having clerked for Merrick B. Garland (now the U.S. attorney general) and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She was also a lawyer for Eric Holder, when he was U.S. attorney general, and she later worked as a federal prosecutor.

Ms. Farhadian Weinstein has raised more money than any of her competitors, including $8.2 million she gave to her own campaign. Early in the race, she frequently spoke about reform. But in recent months, she has been more direct in describing her plans for prosecution and has placed more emphasis on public safety.

She said in an interview that there was one question that prosecutors should always ask themselves: “Is my intervention as an actor in the criminal justice system increasing public safety or not?”

Diana Florence, 50

Kips Bay

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Ms. Florence, a veteran of the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where she worked for 25 years, has spent much of her career prosecuting fraud and corruption cases. As the head of Mr. Vance’s Construction Fraud Task Force, she led cases involving worker deaths and wage theft. She has significant labor backing, with the endorsement of 20 unions.

There is a shadow over Ms. Florence’s campaign. In 2020, she resigned from the office after a judge found that she had withheld evidence from defense lawyers in a major bribery case, which constitutes an ethics violation. A spokeswoman for Ms. Florence’s campaign has said the candidate has taken “full responsibility” for the mistake.

Lucy Lang, 40

Harlem

Ms. Lang, another veteran of Mr. Vance’s office, is the most policy-forward candidate in the race. She has released the outlines of her approach to dozens of issues, including hate crimes, police accountability and tenants’ rights. She has also emphasized her prosecutorial experience, including her investigation of a drug ring in East Harlem.

A granddaughter of the philanthropist Eugene Lang, Ms. Lang became the director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College in 2018. In her view, prosecution should take a holistic view of the communities affected by crime: In East Harlem, for instance, she worked with a coalition of different groups — including the police and tenants — to revitalize the area and make it more welcoming to children.

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Eliza Orlins, 38

Chelsea

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The views of Ms. Orlins (a two-time contestant on “Survivor”) were shaped by her decade working as a public defender. She sees the criminal justice system as racist, cruel and unjust, with outcomes that favor the rich and powerful, and has said she would work to “dismantle” it. She has pledged to cut the office in half, and to re-interview everyone working as a prosecutor there to ensure that their views align with her own.

Ms. Orlins has said she would stop the prosecution of all but a handful of misdemeanors and redirect the office’s attention toward white-collar crime. She has also been politically outspoken on Twitter, speaking publicly against powerful figures like Mr. Trump and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Dan Quart, 49

Upper East Side

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Mr. Quart, a longtime state assemblyman, is the only candidate in the race with political experience. He has cited his record pushing for police accountability in the Legislature as evidence that he will be an effective reformer.

“There’s no guesswork with me,” he said in an interview. “My 10 years in the Legislature should demonstrate to anyone who really wants reform in this office that I’ll be committed to it.”

Though his progressive views are similar to those of Ms. Aboushi and Ms. Orlins, he has billed himself as the most pragmatic candidate on the race’s reformist wing. For instance, he has not pledged to cut the size of the office in half because, he said, it would be an unrealistic promise given the realities of the budget process.

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FAQs

Who is the new district attorney for Manhattan? ›

Alvin Bragg is the 37th District Attorney elected in Manhattan. Alvin – a lifelong Manhattanite who served as a state and federal prosecutor – has spent more than two decades fighting to make our communities safer and our criminal justice system fairer.

Are district attorneys elected in New York State? ›

Each of New York's 62 counties has an elected district attorney.

Are local prosecutors elected or appointed? ›

Depending on the state, an elected prosecutor may go by titles like “District Attorney,” “State Attorney,” “Prosecuting Attorney” or “County Attorney.” They are elected to 4-year terms by the voters in the county or local district that they serve.

Can the Manhattan district attorney be fired? ›

The following are grounds for suspension of a district attorney or for his removal from office: (1) Mental or physical incapacity interfering with the performance of his duties which is, or is likely to become, permanent; (2) Willful misconduct in office; (3) Willful and persistent failure to perform his duties; (4) ...

Who is replacing Cy Vance? ›

Cyrus Vance Jr.
In office January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2021
Preceded byRobert Morgenthau
Succeeded byAlvin Bragg
Personal details
12 more rows

How much do assistant district attorneys make Manhattan? ›

The average salary for Assistant District Attorney is US$82,411 per year in the New York City, NY, United States Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Assistant District Attorney in the New York City, NY, United States Area is US$3,025, with a range from US$1,223 - US$7,481.

Why is the Southern District of New York so powerful? ›

The Southern District is one of the most influential and active federal district courts in the United States, largely because of its jurisdiction over New York's major financial centers.

Who is the Attorney General of Manhattan? ›

Letitia “Tish” James is the 67th Attorney General for the State of New York. With decades of work, she is an experienced attorney and public servant with a long record of accomplishments.

How long is NY district attorney term? ›

The district attorney is a state constitutional officer, elected by the county electorate for a four-year term.

How many assistant district attorneys are there in New York State? ›

The membership of the association is all of the elected district attorneys, as well as many assistant district attorneys, from the 62 New York State counties. In 2002, the association reported its total membership to be approximately 1,000.
...
District Attorneys Association of the State of New York.
Formation1909
FounderBeecher S. Clother
LocationNew York (state)

How many district attorneys are there in the United States? ›

Below is a listing of current United States Attorneys for all 94 districts.
...
U.S. Attorneys Listing.
DistrictUnited States Attorney
District of ColumbiaMatthew M. Graves *
Florida, MiddleRoger B. Handberg
Florida, NorthernJason R. Coody
90 more rows
28 Sept 2022

Is the district attorney powerful? ›

The DA has immense power in influencing an individual's decision to enter into a plea deal or to take their case to trial. More than 90 percent of all criminal cases end in a plea deal. The district attorney has the power to offer a sentence to the individual charged with a crime.

How long does it take to become a prosecutor? ›

What are the Requirements? Aspiring prosecuting attorneys must first obtain a four-year degree from an accredited university and then graduate from law school, which typically takes an additional three years. Law students interested in becoming prosecutors often focus their studies on criminal law.

Is district attorney and prosecutor the same? ›

A district attorney is also referred to as a public prosecutor, state's attorney, or prosecuting attorney. The analogous position in the federal system is a United States Attorney.

Can the governor remove a district attorney in nys? ›

The governor may remove any elective sheriff, county clerk, district attorney or register within the term for which he or she shall have been elected; but before so doing the governor shall give to such officer a copy of the charges against him or her and an opportunity of being heard in his or her defense.

Who is the Manhattan assistant district attorney? ›

Meg Reiss, Chief Assistant District Attorney.

Who is the DA of Brooklyn? ›

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez's “strategy boils down to this: Listen to the community. Work with the police. Do not speak in absolutes or make promises you cannot keep. Work quietly and steadily, making change case by case.” Click here to read the full article.

Who is the youngest District Attorney? ›

Marilyn Mosby (née James; born January 22, 1980) is an American politician and lawyer who has been the State's Attorney for Baltimore since 2015. She is the youngest chief prosecutor of any major American city. She is currently under federal indictment for multiple crimes.

Is Joyce Vance married to Cy Vance? ›

Joyce Alene White Vance is an American lawyer who served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 2009 to 2017.
...
Joyce Vance
SpouseBob Vance
Children4
Alma materBates College (BA) University of Virginia (JD)
11 more rows

Who is Cy Vance married to? ›

How much does the DA of Manhattan make? ›

How much does a District Attorney make in Manhattan, New York? As of Oct 19, 2022, the average annual pay for the District Attorney jobs category in Manhattan is $92,837 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $44.63 an hour.

What does an Ada make in NYC? ›

As of Oct 11, 2022, the average annual pay for an Assistant District Attorney in New York City is $76,513 a year.

How much does an ADA earn in NYC? ›

The average salary for Adas is US$68,249 per year in the New York City, NY, United States Area. The average additional cash compensation for a Adas in the New York City, NY, United States Area is US$13,087, with a range from US$1,687 - US$101,546.

How much does the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York make? ›

The estimated base pay is $97,243 per year. The estimated additional pay is $6,417 per year. Additional pay could include bonus, stock, commission, profit sharing or tips.

Who runs the Southern District of New York? ›

Damian Williams is the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Nominated by President Biden in August 2021 and confirmed by the United States Senate in October 2021, Mr.

Is federal prosecutor prestigious? ›

A position as a federal prosecutor is a more prestigious position and federal prosecutors typically have fewer cases. This allows them to be generally better prepared for trial. However, there are still a lot of very good prosecutors at the state level who enjoy prosecuting these cases.

Is the New York Attorney General elected or appointed? ›

Attorneys general have been elected by the voters since 1847.

Who is the Attorney General? ›

R. Venkataramani is the incumbent Attorney-General for India. He succeeded to the office as the 16th Attorney-General on 1 October 2022. His predecessor was K. K.

Does each NYC borough have its own DA? ›

Being coextensive with an individual county, each borough also elects a district attorney, as does every other county of New York State. While the district attorneys of Manhattan and Brooklyn are popularly referred to as "Manhattan D.A.

How many districts are in New York? ›

The 51 Council districts throughout the five boroughs are each represented by an elected Council Member. Search the map.

How much do assistant district attorneys make in NYC? ›

How much does an Assistant District Attorney make in New York? The average Assistant District Attorney salary in New York is $68,634 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $54,440 and $84,109.

How many DA's in New York City? ›

Each of New York City's five district attorneys are elected officials, representing boroughs with different crime rates and cultures, and answerable to different voters and stakeholders.

How many district attorneys are there in NYS? ›

New York State has one District Attorney for each of its 62 counties, in addition to a D.A. for each of New York City's five boroughs.

Who is the most famous female lawyer? ›

Gloria Allred is the most famous woman attorney practicing law in the nation today. She is a tireless and successful advocate for victims whose rights have been violated. Her high-profile legal battles have led to many landmark precedent-setting court decisions and hundreds of millions of dollars for her clients.

How much power does a US attorney have? ›

In carrying out their duties as prosecutors, AUSAs have the authority to investigate persons, issue subpoenas, file formal criminal charges, plea bargain with defendants, and grant immunity to witnesses and accused criminals. U.S. attorneys and their offices are part of the Department of Justice.

How many black district attorneys are there in the United States? ›

The most common ethnicity of district attorneys is White (79.8%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (6.9%), Asian (5.8%) and Black or African American (5.4). In 2021, women earned 97% of what men earned.

Who is the most powerful person in a courtroom? ›

1Prosecutors are the most powerful officials in the American criminal justice system. They control the direction and outcome of all criminal cases, particularly through their charging and plea-bargaining decisions.

Who is the most important person in a courtroom? ›

The judge presides over the trial from a desk, called a bench, on an elevated platform. The judge has five basic tasks. The first is simply to preside over the proceedings and see that order is maintained.

Which is higher lawyer or prosecutor? ›

The Answer is None.

Both lawyers and prosecutors are lawyers. They have completed their law degrees and passed the bar exam in a particular state they wish to practice.

What type of lawyer is the highest paid? ›

Highest paid lawyers: salary by practice area
  • Tax attorney (tax law): $122,000.
  • Corporate lawyer: $115,000.
  • Employment lawyer: $87,000.
  • Real Estate attorney: $86,000.
  • Divorce attorney: $84,000.
  • Immigration attorney: $84,000.
  • Estate attorney: $83,000.
  • Public Defender: $63,000.
7 Jun 2022

Does a prosecutor have to be a lawyer? ›

Qualified solicitors or barristers can apply directly for a crown prosecutor post in CPS. To do so, they must have completed their Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Vocational Course (BVC), as well as a two-year training contract or 12-month pupilage in the legal profession. Experience of criminal law is an advantage.

Is it better to be a prosecutor or defense attorney? ›

If you prefer cases defending the wrongly accused or ensuring that each defendant gets the proper legal counsel, then maybe you'd prefer a career as a defense attorney. However, if you want to ensure that The People are getting proper legal representation, then you may consider becoming a prosecutor.

What is the most common reason cases are rejected by prosecutors? ›

Insufficient evidence.

A prosecutor may drop a criminal charge if it is determined that the evidence against the accused isn't strong enough. Or, perhaps new evidence is found which undercuts the prosecution's case against the defendant.

How powerful is a state attorney? ›

State attorneys general enforce both state and federal laws. Because they are sworn to uphold the United States' constitution and laws as well as the state's, they often decline to defend the state in federal lawsuits.

What are the 5 prosecuting bodies? ›

It consists of the following constituent units: (1) Department proper; (2) Office of the Government Counsel; (3) National Bureau of Investigation; (4) Public Attorney's Office; (5) Board of Pardons and Parole; (6) Parole and Probation Administration; (7) Bureau of Corrections; (8) Land Registration Authority; (9) ...

Who is the Manhattan assistant district attorney? ›

Meg Reiss, Chief Assistant District Attorney.

How many ADAS are there in NYC? ›

Hynes from Kings County, New York. All 62 district attorneys operate drug treatment courts.

Who is the attorney general? ›

R. Venkataramani is the incumbent Attorney-General for India. He succeeded to the office as the 16th Attorney-General on 1 October 2022. His predecessor was K. K.

Who is the DA of Brooklyn? ›

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez's “strategy boils down to this: Listen to the community. Work with the police. Do not speak in absolutes or make promises you cannot keep. Work quietly and steadily, making change case by case.” Click here to read the full article.

How many assistant attorney generals are there in New York? ›

Over 650 Assistant Attorneys General and over 1,700 employees, including forensic accountants, legal assistants, scientists, investigators and support staff serve in the Office of the Attorney General in many locations across New York State.

How much does the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York make? ›

The estimated base pay is $97,243 per year. The estimated additional pay is $6,417 per year. Additional pay could include bonus, stock, commission, profit sharing or tips.

How many Ausas are there in Sdny? ›

Organization. The Office is organized into two divisions handling civil and criminal matters. The Southern District of New York also has two offices: one in Manhattan, and the other in White Plains. The Office employs approximately 220 Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Why hundreds of NYC prosecutors are leaving? ›

The new laws aren't the only reason for departures. District attorneys say that their city-funded budgets are too thin to allow them to pay prosecutors competitively. Despite the cost of living in Manhattan and Brooklyn, starting salaries for prosecutors in those boroughs is $72,000. In the Bronx it is $75,121.

How much do assistant district attorneys make in NYC? ›

How much does an Assistant District Attorney make in New York? The average Assistant District Attorney salary in New York is $68,634 as of September 26, 2022, but the range typically falls between $54,440 and $84,109.

How long does a Manhattan DA serve? ›

Since the city election of 1897, the district attorney's term has coincided with the mayor's term and has been four years long.

How powerful is the attorney general? ›

Attorneys general are the top legal officers of their state or territory. They advise and represent their legislature and state agencies and act as the “People's Lawyer” for the citizens. Most are elected, though a few are appointed by the governor.

Can Attorney General attend cabinet meetings? ›

Attorney General of India can attend the meetings of both houses of Parliament while not being a member of either. The Attorney General for India is the Indian government's chief legal advisor. its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.

Who is the head of the Department of Justice 2022? ›

The department is headed by the U.S. attorney general, who reports directly to the president of the United States and is a member of the president's Cabinet. The current attorney general is Merrick Garland, who was sworn in on March 11, 2021.

Who is Eric Gonzales? ›

Manolito "Eric" Gonzales Jr. (born September 3, 1972) is a Filipino professional basketball coach, currently with the Iloilo United Royals in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) as a head coach.

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