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Former Manhattan DA Quits FDNY Bias Fight

Former Manhattan DA Quits FDNY Bias Fight

Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said it was in the court's 'best interest' to name someone else to oversee FDNY bias probe. [AP]

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

June 03, 2010

NEW YORK CITY – Days after the city blasted him as biased, Robert Morgenthau stepped down Tuesday as the court-appointed master overseeing new procedures for hiring firefighters.

The former Manhattan district attorney called the Bloomberg administration’s accusations “absurd,” but said it was in the court’s “best interest” to name someone the city didn’t have a “grudge” against.

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis accepted the legendary lawman’s withdrawal with “great regret,” and immediately named former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White his replacement.

Garaufis appointed a special master to prod the city to implement a remedy to FDNY hiring practices that discriminated against blacks and Hispanics.

A top city lawyer called for Morgenthau to be disqualified because he has clashed with Mayor Bloomberg and the Fire Department and was “less than impartial.”

The judge issued a stinging rebuke of the city.

“This appointment was necessitated by the city’s refusal to obey court orders or fulfill its remedial phase obligations in a timely manner,” Garaufis wrote.

“New York City is not a fiefdom,” he wrote. “The corporation counsel does not owe fealty to this or any other mayor or fire commissioner.”

A spokeswoman for the Law Department praised the selection of White and disagreed with the judge’s comments.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the Justice Department, which brought the civil rights suit against the city, estimated the plaintiffs are entitled to $63.5 million in back pay.