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By all available evidence, Rob Reuland is an outcast from the tangle of law and politics that powers Brooklyn. In short, he maintains in a lawsuit against District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, he was fired as an assistant prosecutor because he wrote a book called “Hollowpoint,” which may have included tales told out of school — and maybe also because he made smarty-pants remarks to a magazine writer. That he has quickly landed on his feet as a successful crime novelist — with a movie option from Hollywood director Sidney Pollack to boot — is comforting. But is that all there is? Reuland, 38, said nobody need feel sorry for him, but that he sorely misses being a prosecutor, and is not interested in criminal defense or other practice areas. Since July, when he left the prestigious homicide bureau of Hynes’ domain — under a very dark cloud — Reuland has sought work at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, as well as the U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District. Following the events of Sept. 11, he applied for work with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Federal Air Marshal program. No dice on all counts. Prospective employers could not fail but notice that in February Reuland was demoted from homicide to prosecuting petty crimes. After which — by Reuland’s account — he was asked to leave altogether. “I wasn’t let go because of ineptitude,” said Reuland. “I was promoted right along, and given raises all along. Never any disciplinary problems, or anything of that nature. In fact, a few weeks before I was demoted, Hynes gave me a $10,000 raise. “But what can I say? Even if I explained, ‘Look, I wrote a book and the D.A. didn’t like it,’ they’d say, ‘Yeah, sure,’ and figure there was something else going on there. “It’s a taint,” said the Vanderbilt University Law School graduate. Besides which, it can hardly be an easy thing for a lawyer suing a District Attorney to land a job in law enforcement. For his part, Hynes remained mum on the dispute. “Because the suit is pending,” said Jerry Schmetterer, spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney, “it would not be appropriate to comment.” But now in this season of peace and goodwill toward men, Reuland was asked how he might respond in the event of a Christmas miracle — say, if Hynes were to ring him up and invite him back to the job on Jay Street. “If I felt that he [Hynes] was sincere, and motivated from a sincere heart,” said Reuland, an Eagle scout during his boyhood days in Iowa, “I would go back. It was the best job I ever had in my life. Taking a bad guy and putting him a deep, dark place is something I did well.” To be sure, Reuland has a flair for the dramatic phrase, being a novelist after all. But perhaps he might have been more politically insightful had he spent a boyhood in Brooklyn instead of Dubuque: A Brooklyn boy ought to know he should not crack wise about the borough’s notorious murder rate when the District Attorney is running for re-election as the man who reduced the murder rate. “Brooklyn is the best place to be a homicide prosecutor,” Reuland told a writer for New York magazine. “We’ve got more dead bodies per square inch than anyplace else.” Numerically speaking, Brooklyn once again led the city’s overall murder rate last year, according to police statistics. The Bronx registered more homicides per capita. Marty Markowitz, a Democratic legislator who represents Reuland’s own Park Slope neighborhood, took umbrage at Reuland’s lack of a literal sensibility. “In my capacity as a state senator, I indicated in a letter to him that I felt his comments, in my opinion, were inappropriate for Brooklyn,” said Senator Markowitz. “It puts Brooklyn in a bad light.” Senator Markowitz quoted from that letter: “Perhaps another career awaits you outside of Brooklyn.” In an interview with the New York Law Journal, Senator Markowitz said further, “I don’t believe this letter was the basis of his getting canned. The district attorney and his staff know what’s best for their office. The D.A. never called me to ask me my opinion. A good reason is that I’m not an attorney even. “If [Reuland] was a superb prosecutor, then I’m sure they would have kept him on. He may be an excellent lawyer. Maybe there were some other things going on in that office.” A Brooklyn-born criminal defense lawyer who asked for anonymity suggested that nothing else was going on besides the heat of a political campaign. “All they’re concerned about is re-election,” the defense lawyer said of district attorneys in general. “Which means that everybody in the office has to make them look good. Reuland committed treason, a crime which is in the eye of the beholder.” Stacey Richman, a Bronx criminal defense lawyer, recollected a murder trial in which she opposed Mr. Reuland: “He believed in his position, and I believed in mine. It was a bitter, bitter battle. We fought on everything. But he was a gentleman, and an excellent adversary,” recalled Richman, who wound up winning acquittal for her client. “He’s a true believer,” she added. “It’s a real loss to Kings County because he was such a concerned and zealous prosecutor.” Senator Markowitz, too, had some good to say of Reuland. On the occasion of a glowing review in the Times for “Hollowpoint,” he sent an entirely different sort of note to his constituent. “I mentioned to him in my [second] letter how life is funny,” said Senator Markowitz. “Here I am commending you now, I told him. “I wish him the best.” SEEKING BACKPAY Reuland’s lawyer, Jonathan Lovett, of the White Plains, N.Y., firm Lovett & Gould, which specializes in federal civil rights litigation, said, “We’re seeking all backpay, plus punitive damages.” Lovett, a former prosecutor for both the Manhattan and Westchester County District Attorney’s Offices, said further: “The [firing] is based in whole or in part because of the writing. We’re claiming First Amendment retaliation.” Lovett said he expects the city’s Corporation Counsel to file a motion to dismiss in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. He said Hynes would claim immunity on the basis of his office. “We’re not suing him as a public official,” said Lovett. “We’re suing him as an employer.” Even if he should prevail in his suit, “I don’t believe I’m going to get any job in law enforcement after being fired from the D.A.’s office,” Reuland said. “That’s the bottom line.” Which is not to say that life as a crime novelist is all bad. “But when you publish a book, an embarrassment of riches is not laid at your feet,” Reuland said. “I’ve got a very good contract, but it’s not as if I can retire now. I’ve got to keep quite busy, I’ve got to finish my second book, I’ve got a large mortgage and two kids who need dentists. “To be forced to be a full-time writer is maybe not the 11th circle of Hell,” he acknowledged. “But I enjoyed my work as a prosecutor, helping the people of Brooklyn — where my kids were born. “The level of satisfaction you get from convicting a killer is more satisfying than the best review that The New York Times can give you. I know, I’ve had both.” Reuland’s notions of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office will be revisited in the spring of 2003, with the publication of his second novel, “Blue Five.” Its theme, said Reuland: What is justice?

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