Robert M. Morgenthau

Robert M. Morgenthau

Infobox_Politician (general)

name = Robert Morris Morgenthau
width =
height =
birth_date = birth date and age | 1919 | 07 | 31
birth_place = New York, New York
spouse = Lucinda Franks
alma_mater = Yale University
title = District Attorney of New York County
term_start = 1975
term_end = incumbent
predecessor = Richard Kuh
successor =
constituency = New York County, New York
party = Democratic

Robert Morris Morgenthau (born July 31, 1919) is an American lawyer. Since 1975, he has been the District Attorney for New York County, New York, which is coextensive with the borough of Manhattan in New York City with a few small exceptions.

Prominent family

Robert Morris Morgenthau was born in 1919 in New York City into a prominent Jewish family that had emigrated from Germany in 1866. He is the son of long-time Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. His grandfather Henry Morgenthau, Sr. was United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Before going into diplomatic service, Henry Morgenthau, Sr. had made a fortune in real estate and then became a strong financial backer of President Woodrow Wilson. From his earliest days, Robert Morris Morgenthau was well connected politically. The Morgenthau family home was near Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Springwood Estate at Hyde Park, New York and he grew up knowing Roosevelt.

Education, war and early career

After graduating from the New Lincoln School, Deerfield Academy, and Amherst College, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving for four and a half years, during World War II. He attained the final rank of Lieutenant Commander. He saw action in both the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres, mostly aboard destroyers.

Morgenthau graduated from Yale Law School in 1948 and joined the New York law firm of Patterson, Belknap & Webb, becoming a partner in 1954. In 1961, after twelve years of practicing corporate law, Morgenthau accepted an appointment from President John F. Kennedy as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He was the Democratic nominee for governor of New York in 1962, but was defeated by the incumbent, Nelson Rockefeller. He then was reappointed U.S. Attorney and served for the remainder of the Kennedy and Johnson Administration.

While U.S. attorney, he established a special unit to investigate securities fraud and prosecuted highly publicized bribery cases against city officials and IRS attorneys and accountants.

In January of 1969, following the election of President Richard M. Nixon, Morgenthau remained in office and for months resisted increasingly public pressures from the Nixon Administration to resign. He retained support from New York's liberal Republican U.S. Senators Jacob Javits and Charles Goodell. Morgenthau and his supporters claimed that replacing him would disrupt his work on vital cases and that Nixon might be seeking to prevent Morgenthau from pursuing investigations that would prove embarrassing to the President or his friends. Nonetheless, Morgenthau's position became increasingly untenable. While well-regarded, he was after all a Democrat thought to harbor political aspirations, thus Morgenthau's insistence on remaining in office seemed increasingly unreasonable to even some who initially had thought the Nixon Administration should not show him the door so quickly. He was eventually forced out of office at the end of 1969. He was succeeded as U.S. Attorney by Republican Whitney North Seymour, Jr.

Afterwards Morgenthau served very briefly in the administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay as a Deputy Mayor before resigning to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor. Morgenthau was less successful in raising funds and developing support than two other candidates, Arthur Goldberg and Howard Samuels and within weeks he withdrew from the race. Goldberg won the nomination and was subsequently defeated by Rockefeller. Morgenthau returned to private life until 1974, when he was elected to the office of District Attorney of New York County. This was a special election caused by the death of Frank S. Hogan who had served as D.A. for over thirty years. Morgenthau defeated Hogan's interim successor, Richard Kuh. He was elected to a full term in 1977 and has been reelected seven times. He has not been opposed in a general election since 1985.

District Attorney of New York County

Morgenthau has maintained a national profile while serving in what is technically a local office, in part because he has not been shy about prosecuting white-collar crime. He is the elected head of the New York County District Attorney's Office, which employs some of the top prosecutors in the Country.

He is best known for the prosecution of two headline-grabbing business crimes over the course of his 33-year tenure: the BCCI Affair and the case of former Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, however, benefited politically for the drop in crime in New York during his tenure.

Morgenthau's other principal civic activities are the Police Athletic League (PAL), which he has served since 1962, first as president and then chairman, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, of which he is chairman.

In 2005, Morgenthau received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

2005 election campaign

Morgenthau announced in 2005, at the age of 85, that he would run for a ninth full term as district attorney. For the first time in decades, he encountered a vigorous opponent in the Democratic primary in former state court judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. Surprisingly, Snyder won the endorsement of the "New York Times" which, like virtually all of the city's establishment, has long been supportive of Morgenthau.

He was widowed and remarried, having five children by his first wife and two by his second, journalist Lucinda Franks.

Campaign coverage stressed the fact that despite his advanced age Morgenthau was still mentally very sharp, being hampered only by hearing loss and decreasing mobility. Nonetheless, his age and long tenure were inevitably issues in the race. Morgenthau's refusal to debate his opponent, while far from unheard-of among entrenched incumbents, did not quiet these concerns.

Morgenthau won the Democratic primary with 59% of the vote to Snyder's 41%. In the general election, he was once again the candidate for all political parties in the election, having been nominated by the Democrats, Republicans and the Working Families Party. Morgenthau won re-election with more than 99% of the vote.

In December 2007 Morgenthau denied rumors that he was resigning and said he planned to seek re-election in 2009. As of August 2008, he is still in office.

Television character

It is believed that the character of Adam Schiff (played by actor Steven Hill), the New York district attorney in the long running TV series "Law & Order", was loosely based on Morgenthau. It is reported that Morgenthau was a fan of the character. [ [ Robert Morgenthau] from the Jewish Virtual Library] [ [ Happy 85th Birthday, Bob Morgenthau] from New York Magazine]

External links

* [ Official Website of New York County DA Robert M. Morgenthau]


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