NYC District Attorney’s Office
The Idea: Pinnacle of Law for the Mundane World
The Aspect: ’And Justice for All
The Face(s): ADA Michael Cutter
The New York County District Attorney is the elected district attorney for New York County (Manhattan), New York. The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws. (Federal law violations are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York). The current District Attorney is Jack McCoy
In the legislative act of February 5, 1796, New York State was divided into seven districts which had each an Assistant Attorney General, except New York County where Attorney General Josiah Ogden Hoffman prosecuted personally until 1801.
From 1801 to 1813, New York County was part of the First District which included the then existing counties of New York, Suffolk, Queens, Kings, Richmond and Westchester (now comprising the area of Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Staten Island, Westchester and Suffolk). In 1813, Westchester Co. was redistricted to a new district with Rockland and Putnam counties. In 1815, New York County was excluded from the First District and became the Twelfth District, at the time the only one consisting of a single county. In 1818, all 13 districts were broken up, and every county in the State of New York became a separate district.
From 1874 to 1895, the County of New York included the West Bronx, and from 1895 to 1913 all of what is today the County of Bronx, governing the same area as does the present Borough of the Bronx. Since January 1, 1914, the boundaries of New York County have been identical to those of the Borough of Manhattan.
Until 1822, the district attorney was appointed by the Council of Appointment, and held the office “during the Council’s pleasure”, meaning that there was no defined term of office.
Under the provisions of the State Constitution of 1821, the D.A. was appointed to a three-year term by the Court of General Sessions.
Under the provisions of the State Constitution of 1846, the office became elective by popular ballot. The term was three years, beginning on January 1 and ending on December 31. In case of a vacancy, the Governor of New York filled the vacancy temporarily until a successor was elected, always to a full term, at the next annual election. An Acting D.A. was appointed by the Court of General Sessions pending the Governor’s action.
The Consolidation Charter of 1896 extended the term of the incumbent John R. Fellows—who had been elected in 1893 to a three-year term (1894–96)—by a year, and since the City election of 1897, the D.A.‘s term coincides with the Mayor’s term, being four years long. In case of a vacancy, a special election is held for the remainder of the term, if any.