Ready to 'Do Justice,' Carter Assumes Helm at Law Department

, New York Law Journal

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Zachary Carter speaking alongside Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio
Zachary Carter, left, speaking at a press conference alongside Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who chose Carter as Corporation Counsel on Sunday.

Zachary Carter, the incoming New York City corporation counsel, said he is ready to take over a Law Department already running at full speed on a number of major issues facing New York City.

"Absolutely," Carter said in an interview Monday. "I've always loved public service and this is an opportunity to play an important role in the administration of the city and be helpful to our new mayor in supporting his policies with sound legal advice."

Carter, 63, was named to the position by Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio Sunday at a news conference, where Carter said both he and the mayor "believe that prosperity and access to opportunity should be broadly shared, and that we have failed as a society when we do not meet the needs of the least advantaged among us."

De Blasio also spoke of an activist corporation counsel who will help him realize his policies on affordable housing mandates and expanding paid sick leave.

De Blasio addressed two highly contentious cases involving the Law Department. "We will drop the appeal on the stop-and-frisk case because we think the judge was right about the reforms that we need to make," he said. "We will settle the Central Park Five case, because a huge injustice was done."

Carter declined to discuss the specifics of any cases in which the Law Department is involved.

Michael Cardozo, the outgoing corporation counsel, said he and Carter met at the Law Department Monday. "We had a very constructive meeting with Zach earlier today where he met with a number of my top level people for a few hours," Cardozo said in an interview.

Cardozo, who will finish packing and say goodbye to his "wonderful staff" today after 12 years in office, also had a message of optimism for Carter. "I told him that I think this is one of the finest, if not the finest, public law offices in the country and I was confident he would continue to take all the appropriate steps to keep it that way," Cardozo said.

In a prior statement, Cardozo said he had known Carter for years and could "attest to his legal intellect, talent as a litigator and his dedication to the rule of law."

Cardozo, who worked with Carter in his role as chair of the Mayor's Committee on the Judiciary, said Carter "endorses the idea of merit selection for judges, not political gamesmanship, and he will continue to uphold these important tenets as corp. counsel."

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