The New York Law Journal by Mark Fass - May 6, 2009
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced yesterday that he has recommended Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Ms. Lynch (pictured), who turns 50 later this month, previously held the post from 1999 to 2001, under President Bill Clinton. She is now a partner at Hogan & Hartson, specializing in commercial litigation, white-collar criminal defense and corporate compliance issues. Although the senator's recommendation does not guarantee Ms. Lynch's appointment, President Barack Obama is likely to follow the endorsement of a senior, home-state senator, particularly given Mr. Schumer's status as a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a press release announcing the recommendation, Mr. Schumer said, "Loretta's tremendous experience and steadfast commitment to justice make her the ideal candidate to lead the U.S. Attorney's office in the Eastern District of New York. She is brilliant, dedicated, and fair and her commitment to, and experience in, the Eastern District is simply without parallel."
Mr. Schumer yesterday also announced his recommendations for U.S. attorney in the Western and Northern districts. Richard Hartunian, 48, the senator's choice to head the Northern District, which centers on Albany, has worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in that office for 11 years. He is the Northern District's narcotics supervisor and organized crime drug enforcement task force coordinator. Prior to joining the Northern District, Mr. Hartunian was an assistant district attorney in Albany. William Hochul, 50, the nominee for U.S. Attorney for the Western District, which includes Buffalo and Rochester, joined the office in 1991. He heads the office's national security division. In February, the senator recommended his own chief counsel, Preet Bharara, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District. The nominees must now be interviewed and vetted by the Obama administration and approved by the Senate.
Ms. Lynch's nomination came as a surprise to the odds-makers handicapping the anticipated replacement of the interim U.S. attorney, Benton J. Campbell. Most short lists included Mr. Campbell; former Eastern District prosecutors Jim Walden, who is a litigation partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Eric Corngold, now the state's executive deputy attorney general for economic justice; and current criminal division chief Greg Andres. Recently, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice was rumored to be the senator's preference. Numerous sources said yesterday that Mr. Schumer was disappointed when President George W. Bush asked Ms. Lynch to resign as U.S. attorney in 2001 and saw this as his first chance to re-seat her. A spokesman for the senator said Ms. Lynch had previously served on his informal selection committee for U.S. attorney's openings, but not for the present one. In 11 years at the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's Office, Ms. Lynch worked her way up from a line prosecutor, where she focused on narcotics and violent crimes, to the head of the office, one of the most prestigious and influential federal prosecutor's offices in the country. While in the Eastern District, Ms. Lynch served as lead prosecutor in a series of trials alleging public corruption in Brookhaven, Long Island. She also served on the prosecution team in United States v. Volpe, the civil rights action against several New York City police officers for the sexual assault of Abner Louima.
Ms. Lynch is a 1981 graduate of Harvard College and a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School. Zachary W. Carter, who preceded Ms. Lynch as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District and appointed her his chief assistant, called her nomination an "excellent" decision. "First of all, she's actually served in the position," said Mr. Carter, now a partner at Dorsey & Whitney. "She served quite ably in that position. She is a known quantity. Before she was U.S. attorney she had been the head of the Long Island division of the Eastern District office, which by itself would probably be one of the 10 largest U.S. attorneys' offices in the country, and acquitted herself very well in that position." With an authorized head count of 180 assistant U.S. attorneys, the Eastern District ranks as one of the largest federal prosecutor's offices in the country. It covers Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island, with offices in Brooklyn and Central Islip. Ms. Lynch did not return a call for comment.