Morgenthau's Mess

The D.A. Fires a Blank at the Cops Who Killed Dorismond

He was elected in a special election in 1974, running against incumbent Richard Kuh, who had been appointed earlier that year by a Republican governor, Malcolm Wilson, to fill a vacancy created by the death of longtime D.A. Frank Hogan. He defeated Kuh in a Democratic primary with the strong support of Harlem leaders Percy Sutton and Charlie Rangel and has long enjoyed the support of the county's black, Latino, and liberal white leadership—reelected in recent years virtually without opposition. Roy Goodman, the GOP boss of Manhattan, and Liberal Party honcho Ray Harding have made sure he has tri-party support.

The D.A.-for-life's campaign committee has $579,545 in the bank, ready for another run in 2001, when he will be 82 years old. He has been the consummate D.A. and the consummate politician, surviving in Manhattan despite its very liberal Democratic primary electorate. He has been a resolute opponent of the death penalty, brandishing old-fashioned liberal principles even in the face of political pressure when cops are killed. He has surrounded himself with skillful assistants.

But he appears out of step with a constituency that believes that cops, especially in the Giuliani era, need external, monitoring restraint, and that deadly force requires, as Morgenthau himself put it over a decade ago, extraordinary justification.

Research: Kim Brown, Matthew Leising

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