Former U.S. Prosecutor Is City's New Top Attorney

, The Associated Press


Zachary Carter, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, will become New York City's corporation counsel on Jan. 1.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced Carter's appointment as the city's chief legal officer on Sunday and pledged a clean break from some of the legal approaches of his predecessor's administration.

"There will not be a piece of legislation or executive order or any major action that we take as a city government over the next four years that does not have the approval and support of the city's top attorney" de Blasio said at a Manhattan news conference. "It's one of the roles that touches literally every part of government and therefore the lives of every New Yorker."

The Law Department, with 730 attorneys and 604 support staff, is one of the busiest in city government. Among its functions is the defense of the city against damage claims—18,000 pending currently.

De Blasio signaled that Carter would immediately change direction from some of the positions held by the Law Department under outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The city will abandon its appeal of Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin's decision that the NYPD sometimes used its stop-and-frisk tactics unconstitutionally by unfairly targeting minorities. The ruling to install a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD has been on hold pending that appeal.

Additionally, de Blasio said he would follow through on a campaign promise to settle a lawsuit brought by five black and Hispanic teens convicted in the 1990 rape and grisly beating of a white woman jogging in Central Park. They served six to 13 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out in 2002 because of evidence linking someone else to the crime.

They sued police and prosecutors for $250 million but the lawsuit has languished for a decade.

Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo has vigously defended the Bloomberg administration's position in both cases.

Cardozo predicted in a message to Law Department staff Sunday night that Carter would serve with "great distinction" as corporation counsel.

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