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        Now:Home--company history

Winning a Tough Image, Prosecutor Gains Critics

     For months, federal prosecutors had been circling Roger Corbin, a Nassau County legislator suspected of taking payments from a real estate developer. By September of 2008, preparing to indict Mr. Corbin on charges of tax evasion, they made plans to go to his home to interview him.
   But just before the interview, according to two former Justice Department officials who had direct knowledge of the matter, they received some news that disturbed them: Kathleen M. Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, had already dispatched an informer to record conversations with Mr. Corbin.
    Ms. Rice, who had a separate investigation running, hoped Mr. Corbin would incriminate himself and other local officials in what she believed was a far-reaching influence-peddling scheme.
    The clash between the offices soon escalated, as Ms. Rice and her aides pleaded with Benton J. Campbell, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to help her pursue the wider case. Mr. Campbell responded with a letter accusing Ms. Rice of breaking promises to coordinate with his office — charges that she denied — and warning that she was endangering a federal investigation.
    In the five years since she was elected Nassau’s first female district attorney, Ms. Rice, 45, has established herself as a tough, aggressive prosecutor, upending a courthouse culture that she regarded as soft, clubby and inefficient. Her crusades — including fewer plea deals and murder charges for drunken drivers who cause deaths — have made her popular in the county and garnered Ms. Rice a national reputation, including a profile on “60 Minutes.” And as she seeks the Democratic nomination on Tuesday to be attorney general of New York, she has pledged to take a similar spirit to Albany.
   Yet Ms. Rice’s tenure has also been marked by complaints from judges, defense lawyers and other prosecutors about her tactics and management style
   Some defense lawyers accuse her of being more concerned with headlines than with justice. They say her efforts to reduce plea deals have created case backlogs, and criticize her campaign to seek stiffer sentences for drunken driving as political posturing.
    “What society wants from a prosecutor is judgment and discretion,” said Bruce A. Barket, a lawyer who worked under Ms. Rice’s predecessor, Denis E. Dillon, and who has represented clients before her office. “The surest sign of a prosecutor seeking higher office is their insistence that everyone seek the maximum sentence, and that was what she did from Day 1.”
    Ms. Rice’s supporters dismiss such suggestions, and her office says that since she arrived, convictions are up, cases are disposed of more quickly and more defendants plead guilty to the highest charge against them, knowing that there is little value in trying to negotiate.
    It is not her job, a spokesman said, to be friendly with judges, or solicitous of defense lawyers.
   “It’s her job to be the advocate for voiceless victims — and she does that job aggressively but also with an unwavering sense of fairness and integrity,” the spokesman, Eric Phillips, said in a statement.
   But concerns about Ms. Rice’s approach have not been limited to the defense bar. Last year, as the Obama administration sought candidates for United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Rice was interviewed by a panel set up by Senator Charles E. Schumer to vet nominees for federal judgeships and attorney positions.
    The panel’s chairman, Mark H. O’Donoghue, a Manhattan-based lawyer, did not return a call seeking comment on the deliberations. Mr. Schumer’s office declined to comment. But Ms. Rice did not get the job: Mr. Schumer ultimately recommended Loretta E. Lynch, a member of the panel who had held the Eastern District job from 1999 to 2001.
    Two people informed of the committee’s thinking said panel members had expressed concerns about Ms. Rice’s discretion and had worried that she was too politically ambitious for the job.
    Mr. Phillips confirmed that Ms. Rice had been interviewed, but disputed any notion that she had been overly eager in seeking attention for her work.
“She was tough on drunk drivers when nobody else would do it,” Mr. Phillips said. “She took on corrupt public officials because it was the right thing to do. The headlines she made were a direct result of the courage she showed on the county’s toughest issues.”
    Few would dispute that Ms. Rice’s arrival was a shock to the county’s political system. Mr. Dillon, a Republican, had served for more than three decades, mentoring a generation of young prosecutors, many of whom went on to become defense lawyers or judges in the county. Relations between the district attorney’s office and the defense bar were collegial. Most violent felony cases ended in plea agreements, a practice Mr. Dillon embraced in the name of efficiency.
    Ms. Rice campaigned against the whole system: Mr. Dillon had gone soft, she argued, and too many criminals were getting off lightly. After ousting him, she stepped up prosecutions for drunken driving.
    In perhaps her highest-profile case, her office won a 2006 murder conviction against a drunken driver who had hit a limousine while going in the wrong direction on the Meadowbrook Parkway, killing the driver and decapitating a 7-year-old passenger.
    Denna Cohen, president of the Long Island chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said such cases were not taken seriously before Ms. Rice took over.
    “They are murderers,” Ms. Cohen said. “They are really murderers. Kathleen Rice stood to her word. She fought, and she lets everybody know.”
    Ms. Rice has not limited her attention to drunken drivers. After taking office, she announced that she would allow plea deals only if she was allowed to determine the sentences that would go with them, angering judges.
    Defense lawyers have complained about other practices, too, including prosecutors’ delays in sharing evidence. In a 2007 case, a judge fined a Nassau prosecutor $1,000 for not turning over evidence in a murder trial.
    “As judges, we didn’t get along with her too well,” said Richard A. LaPera, a Republican who retired as a Nassau criminal court judge in 2007. “She would offer a plea and then she would tell us what the sentence would be. We would not go along with it, and that was a problem. She was tough to deal with.”
    Ms. Rice also dismissed some of the staff members she had inherited, and angered women’s groups when she told part-time female prosecutors that they should take on full-time roles if they wanted to continue in the office. Ms. Rice brushed aside the criticisms, saying she had a responsibility to taxpayers to get the most out of her prosecutors. (She later created a special bureau, charged with the initial assessment of new cases, which allowed flexible work hours for some prosecutors.)
    “She had specific ideas and she implemented them,” said Patrick McCormack, a senior aide to Mr. Dillon who also served under Ms. Rice and speaks highly of them both. “She had a major effect on the culture of the office, the mentality. There’s no question about that. In terms of running an office, I would say she was an effective D.A.”
    Now, as she campaigns for attorney general, Ms. Rice is promising to do for Albany what she did for Mineola: shake up a sclerotic, inbred political culture, breaking whatever eggs need scrambling. She has pledged to seek legislation giving the attorney general broader jurisdiction over public corruption and to prosecute lawmakers and officials who abuse their offices. “If you cheat the taxpayers of New York,” Ms. Rice says in her television advertisements, “you should go to prison.”
    “She’s running on the same themes, the same tone, as she did when she took on Denis Dillon and the Republican good old boys,” said Lawrence Levy, executive director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University. He added, “Whether she can step up to the broader arena, where the political and personal and ideological forces are a lot stronger, that’s the magic question.”


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Address: Room 304, Kingtop Building B (Second Stage Building, Software Zone), No.1819, Lvling Road, Siming Distrtict, Xiamen City TEL:0592-5111002 Hotline:4000-321-580 Wells Xiamen Human Resource Management Co., Ltd. E-mail: Congratulations Wells housewarming Technical support: Xiamen Peng You
维尔斯(Weshr)公司是2003年在新加坡成立,2006年初在中国厦门设立厦门维尔斯人力资源管理有限公司,并作为集团公司总部所在地. 维尔斯公司拥有中国猎头行业内一流的中高端精英动态人才库的猎头运营机构,独资创建了多家中国知名的多层次人才收录网站—— 厦门猎头网、福建猎头网、 广东猎头网 www.gdlietou.com及人事代理网 www.xmlw.net等知名并具备一定影响力的网站