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Jeanine Ferris Pirro (born June 2, 1951) is an American prosecutor, former Judge, and elected official from the state of New York. A Republican from Westchester County, Pirro served as a county judge before serving as the elected District Attorney of Westchester County for twelve years. As a District Attorney she gained considerable visibility, especially in cases regarding domestic abuse and crimes against the elderly. She was the first female judge in the county.

Jeanine Pirro was the Republican nominee for New York State Attorney General in 2006, losing to Democrat Andrew Cuomo (a fellow Albany Law alumnus). She also held the nominations of the New York Conservative and Independence Parties. She previously sought the nominations of her party for the offices of New York State Lieutenant Governor and United States Senator and withdrew her name in each case. She is currently a regular contributor to The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet and Larry King Live, a Fox News legal analyst, and sometimes substitute host of On The Record. She also currently hosts a television program entitled Judge Jeanine Pirro.

Contents

Early life

Pirro was born in Elmira, New York, to Nasser "Leo" and Esther Ferris. Her father was a mobile-home salesman; her mother, a department-store model. She is a Roman Catholic of Lebanese descent [1].

She graduated from Notre Dame High School in three years rather than the usual four. [2] She then graduated from the University at Buffalo. She received her J.D. degree at Albany Law School in 1975.

Married life

Jeanine Ferris married Albert Pirro in 1975. Eventually, domestic strife and his problems would be a burden to her political career. He spent two months in a psychiatric hospital in 1986. In 1983, he had two extramarital affairs, one with a woman working at his law firm and another with a woman who later, in 1995, claimed he had fathered her child. That allegation led to years of litigation in which Al Pirro denied paternity but was proven the father when an Indiana court eventually ordered DNA testing in 1998.

She is reported as being separated from her husband in a Dec. 6, 2009 article in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/nyregion/06routine.html?th&emc=th

Westchester County positions

In 1978, Pirro became an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County.

In 1989, she became a judge on the Westchester County Court, the first female to hold such a position.

In 1993, Pirro was elected District Attorney of Westchester County, again the first female to hold that position. [19] She was re-elected in 1997 and 2001. Prosecuting murder, rape, domestic violence, and other cases, Pirro achieved considerable fame and media visibility, appearing on television programs such as Larry King Live and Nightline. People magazine named her as one of its 50 Most Beautiful People in 1997.[3]

In 1997 she chaired the New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities, whose report and recommendations resulted in legislation passing that enhanced protections of, and safeguards for, the victims of domestic abuse.

On May 23, 2005 Pirro announced that she would not seek re-election as Westchester Country District Attorney. [4]

1986 Lieutenant Governor campaign

In 1986, she announced her bid to be elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor of New York. She was the hand picked running mate of then Westchester County Executive Andrew O'Rourke, who was the Republican Party (GOP) nominee for governor. Her campaign faced immediate problems, including "factionalism within the New York Republican Party and from wariness among conservatives who are unhappy about her support for abortion rights and gay rights." [5]. After allegations surfaced about her husband's business dealings, and his refusal to disclose information about it, she withdrew from the race. [6] It subsequently came out that those included links to reputed mobsters."[7]

2006 U.S. Senate campaign

On August 10, 2005 in New York City, Pirro announced that she would seek the Republican nomination to challenge first-term incumbent Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democrat, in the 2006 election for U.S. Senator from New York.

Other Republicans who announced campaigns for the nomination were John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, William Brenner, an attorney in Sullivan County, and attorney Edward Cox, the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon.

During an appearance at the Crime Victims Resource Center, Pirro described herself this way: "I am red on fiscal policy. I am conservative and I support the Bush tax cut." She added, however: "I have broad blue stripes when it comes to social issues... I am a woman who is a moderate in New York." [8]

Republican Governor George Pataki's endorsement of Pirro caused Cox to withdraw from the race [9], leaving Pirro as the likely nominee. But Pirro's campaign suffered from some prominent gaffes. During her campaign announcement, she fumbled for words for half a minute when she discovered that page 10 of her speech was missing. She later stumbled over a comment on that matter: "Was it my best day? Absolutely not," she said. "Am I better than that? Absolutely not."[10] Later, in an interview, Pirro said that she had campaigned across the state, including "the west end of New York, bordering on Ohio." New York does not border Ohio. In response, the New York Democratic Party mailed Pirro's campaign a map of New York State.[11] Over the next two months, Pirro's campaign performance continued to draw criticism, most notably from then-state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno [12]. He urged that she withdraw and run for Attorney General. This view was endorsed by New York's Republican Party County Chairs and by state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik. On December 21, 2005, after continuing pressure from party chiefs, a lagging fundraising effort, and polls showing she would be defeated by Clinton (a Quinnipiac University poll found Pirro would lose to Clinton 62 percent to 30 percent), Jeanine Pirro dropped out of the Senate race just two months after she started her campaign. "I have decided that my law enforcement background better qualifies me for a race for New York State attorney general than a race for the United States Senate," she said in a statement. [13]

Donors to the political campaigns of Jeanine Pirro have included designer Tommy Hilfiger (also a native of Elmira), Donald Trump and numerous contractors and real estate executives who have done business with her husband.

2006 State Attorney General campaign

On May 31, 2006, Pirro, unopposed for the GOP nomination, became the party's official candidate by acclamation at the GOP convention. [14] However, in the general election, Pirro lost to the Democratic nominee, former Clinton Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo. [15]

Controversies

Deskovic conviction

In 1989 Jeffery Deskovic was convicted in the murder of 15-year-old fellow student Angela Correa. He proclaimed his innocence on several occasions, but was denied a reopening of the case by then-DA Pirro. In 2006, the current DA authorized a DNA test which led to Deskovic's exoneration. Had Pirro agreed to a relatively simple test, Deskovic would have been freed years before his actual exoneration. Instead, she maintained that the test wasn't necessary, and Deskovic spent 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.[16] Additionally, the actual killer, Steve Cunningham, killed again while Deskovic sat in prison for the crime. [17]

Corruption allegations

Pirro signed joint tax returns for which her husband, Albert, was convicted. He took complete responsibility for the filings,[18] although there was considerable public skepticism that she could be unaware of them.[19] Pirro herself has come under scrutiny because of three full-time county police officers that she used as drivers and bodyguards. The staff was paid exorbitant overtime salaries and was used at political events; Pirro has not yet reimbursed the county. She also sent a threatening legal letter through her attorney David Boies, a prominent US attorney (represented Al Gore in front of US Supreme Court in Florida 2000 elections) to her neighbors to claim that her daughter Christine Pirro (daughter with ethics challenged prominent Westchester County attorney Albert Pirro) that she did not attend a house party that featured underage drinking which resulted in the death of Robert Viscome, a former Harrison High School football player. Patrick Rujak was the only person ever charged while the other teenagers who were neighbors of Jeanine Pirro and her daughter Christine were never charged even though there is evidence they were also drinking excessively while underage at that party.

Eavesdropping allegations

Pirro is currently under state and federal criminal investigation for allegedly hiring former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik to arrange an illegal recording of her husband, whom she suspected of adultery. Conversations between Pirro and Kerik about planting a recording device were incidentally intercepted by a federal wiretap during an investigation of Kerik on an unrelated matter.[20] In a press conference Pirro stated that the recording device was never actually planted. Further, she stated that intercepting her husband's conversations on her own property would have been lawful.[21] Her position is that since no bugging actually took place and that it was a private marital issue, the state should have no interest in investigating any possible criminal violation. However, since the New York Penal Law lists Criminal Solicitation in Section 100 as an inchoate crime, no actual bugging need take place for someone who solicits illegal bugging to be subject to criminal liability.

Controversy surrounding her husband Albert Pirro

Jeanine Pirro's husband, Albert Pirro, has been an influential private real-estate attorney and lobbyist. In 2000, he was convicted on 66 counts of federal tax fraud. Pirro had hidden $1 million in income from the Federal Government between 1988 and 1997, claiming dozens of personal luxuries as business expenses, including his $123,000 Ferrari and his wife's Mercedes-Benz.[22] He served 17 months in prison. Although only suspended from the practice of law for his wrongdoing by New York's Appellate Court (2nd Dept.) in May 2003, he was later disbarred by the US Supreme Court in January 2004. [23]

Albert Pirro also has been accused of having mob connections. In an FBI tape recording of a conversation between convicted gangster Gregory DePalma and associates, DePalma claimed that "the DA's husband [Albert Pirro]" had shared information about the DA's investigation of a corrupt local cop with a reputed mob associate named Robert Persico. [24]

Jeanine Pirro has responded saying she and her husband lead different lives and do not talk about work at home. Recently, he has appeared with Pirro at some campaign events in 2005. Pirro was never charged with any crimes relating to her husband and was re-elected district attorney in 2001 while her husband was in prison on the tax fraud conviction. [25]

Albert Pirro is alleged to have engaged in an affair with 35 year old Lisa Santangelo, his attorney's wife. Jeanine Pirro's suspicion of the affair, and alleged placement of listening devices to catch Albert cheating, are at the heart of a current Federal investigation. [26]

Judge Jeanine Pirro on The CW

On May 5, 2008, The CW announced that Pirro would host a weekday television show to be named Judge Jeanine Pirro, a program that is a part of the network's CW Daytime lineup and that features two episodes airing daily. The show is distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television and is by default carried by all CW affiliates. [27]

Judge Jeanine Pirro has been cleared for a second season beginning in fall 2009. Unlike its first season, the second season launching Fall 2009 will not be exclusive to CW affiliates. [28]

Statewide tickets

2006 NYS Republican Party Ticket

2006 NYS Democratic Party Ticket

2006 NYS Independence Party Ticket

2006 NYS Conservative Party Ticket

Sources and further reading

  • Blassberg, S. Richard. The Jeanine Machine. Hudson House, 2002. ISBN 1-58776-141-6.
  • "Driving Ms. Pirro." The Journal News. August 6, 2005. [20]
  • Eddings, Keith. "Pirro's chauffeur on pace to be county's highest-paid employee." The Journal News. August 1, 2005. [21]
  • Healy, Patrick D. "Democrats Push Rival to Repay Security Costs." New York Times. August 3, 2005. [22]
  • Kovaleski, Serge F. "In Sex Arrests Hailed by Pirro, Little Jail Time." New York Times. October 13, 2006. [23]
  • Moritz, Owen. "Driver's banking on Pirro fame." New York Daily News. August 2, 2005.[24]
  • "Report: Pirro's Bodyguard Makes $87K In OT." WINS. August 1, 2005. [25]
  • "Pirro Takes Aim at Clinton's Job". Newsday, August 9, 2005. [26]
  • "Can This Marriage Be Saved". New York Magazine. October 23, 2006. [27]
  • "REVEALED: EXPLOSIVE SECRETS THE PIRROS TRIED TO CONCEAL". New York Post. October 17, 2006 [28]

References

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dora Irizarry
Republican Nominee for New York State Attorney General
2006
Succeeded by
'







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