Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.

As a litigating attorney in practice for more than 50 years in New York City, who worked with Frank Hogan’s office when he was the Manhattan DA [illustrated by prosecutions where I appeared for the People at trial in the old Tweed Courthouse in the 60s] I have followed with great interest the topic of an op-ed piece by Stroock partner Joel Cohen titled “Learning From the Vance/Weinstein Mess,” Interestingly, it seems that every day the Law Journal carries a front page story mentioning Vance and his “mess” in which it is carefully noted that he’s running for his third term for DA unopposed, neglecting to note that a write in campaign has been launched by a credible opponent Marc Fliedner.

Fliedner it should be remembered was a former assistant for sex crimes at the Brooklyn DA’s office and an unsuccessful candidate for that office.

A front page Law Journal story, loudly supported by the op-ed, announces that Vance has submitted the ethical dilemma of his acceptance of campaign contributions from attorneys representing prominent clients who are under investigation for sex crimes (Harvey Weinstein) or questionable business practices (Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr.) for “study” by Columbia Law School-based Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. Notably this “study” is to conclude in 90 days, i.e. after the election, when it cannot affect his reelection.

Mr. Cohen’s op-ed, while questioning the “optics” of these contributions and acknowledging the public’s suspicion that these payments have to be linked to the outcome of these investigations (both dropped by DA Vance) opens by asserting that Vance “…in the tradition of his two predecessors Robert Morgenthau and Frank Hogan, is a man of consummate integrity.”

Curiously I don’t ever recall either Morgenthau or Hogan getting such attention for a “mess” like the one Vance is embroiled in. Perhaps his predecessors understood the Manhattan DA like Caesar’s wife must behave at all times above reproach. Vance’s “mess” doesn’t pass the smell test. One wonders, if he had exercised such poor judgment accepting these payments from defense attorneys in these circumstances, does he have the judgment required to act as our District Attorney? Only “finally” disclosed at the end of his op-ed does Cohen alert the reader that his firm represents Vance’s campaign for reelection. You needn’t guess that this affected his impartiality.

Lewis Rosenberg, Esq. Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd