President Barack Obama’s nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to be the nation’s 83rd attorney general has captured attention in part because she would be the first African-American woman to serve in that role.
But make no mistake: History-making aside, Lynch is the right person for the job. She is a seasoned prosecutor with a clear head, significant management experience and an innate sense of justice. A strong, independent and confident leader, she remains humble and grounded, ethical to the core, genuine and discreet.
Lynch is universally respected by law enforcement professionals, judges and fellow lawyers. Even a staunch Republican like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District, has acknowledged Lynch as a good choice who is professional and apolitical.
What makes Lynch even more special is her poise in times of high stress and her seasoned judgment in tackling very difficult issues.
Under her direction, the Eastern District — which includes Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island — has prosecuted foreign terrorists, criminal gang leaders and members, murderous narco-trafficking international drug lords, white collar criminals, and corrupt politicians from both major parties. Included among these successful cases was the conviction of al-Qaida-sanctioned New York City subway attack plotters. Lynch’s leadership has been put to the test and she consistently excelled, obtaining results based on integrity and setting a standard leaders should aspire to.
Her biography is equally impressive. After graduating from Harvard University and Harvard Law School and working at a law firm in New York City, she began her distinguished career as a federal prosecutor. As an assistant U.S. attorney, she tirelessly investigated and prosecuted complex narcotics, white collar and public corruption cases, impressing judges, colleagues and adversaries. She quickly rose through the ranks — establishing herself as an effective leader within the office. Among the high-profile cases she personally handled was the successful civil rights violation prosecution of corrupt New York City police officers who brutally assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997.
In total, Lynch has served in the Department of Justice for more than 15 years, and serves as chairwoman of the U.S. attorney general’s advisory committee. Her commitment to public service also includes serving as special counsel to the office of the prosecutor of the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda, which prosecuted those responsible for human rights violations in the 1994 tribal genocide, and lecturing on international law enforcement issues in Europe. Lynch served as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as well as the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, a nonprofit that provides legal advocacy skills training, and as counsel to the New York City Council.
This nominee is uniquely qualified to serve as our country’s top law enforcement official. As she has been twice before for the position of U.S. attorney, Lynch should be unanimously confirmed by the Senate as attorney general.
It’s unfortunate that partisan bickering could delay her confirmation past the end of the year, but the country will be well served when her appointment becomes official.
George Stamboulidis, co-head of the white collar and corporate investigations practice at law firm BakerHostetler, served alongside Loretta Lynch for more than a decade as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.