Gerard E. Lynch


In Honor of William M. Tendy. Bill Tendy was already a legend among federal prosecutors when I first served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the early 1980s. To us youngsters, Bill even then seemed a survivor from another era, when prosecutors really did resemble the tough-talking Hollywood DAs played by actors like Brian Donleavy - while we felt more like insecure young lawyers who should be played by Michael J. Fox or Calista Flockhart. Partly, of course, this was just a function of age and experience; hard as it was to imagine, there must have been a time when Bill too was young and new to the job - though probably not insecure. Partly, though, it was a function of the fact that Bill's experience did indeed reach back to an era, before the innovations of the Warren Court, when law enforcement had a different, and somewhat rougher, style, and prosecutors were unambigiously associated with that style. In the fall, the Fordham University School of Law will hold a symposium in honor of Bill Tendy, called "The Changing Role of the Federal Prosecutor." The following essay suggests that this symposium is timely indeed, and that prosecutors today should be conceived as occupying a very different role from the one they played when Bill began in the business. Although the developments I discuss are not limited to federal prosecutions, they are most pronounced in the federal system, particularly in white-collar cases in districts containing major cities. I do not know that Bill approved of all the changes in the criminal justice system that he witnessed in the course of his long career, but I do know that he understood the process of change, and the need of the system, and of those who work within it, to adapt to the inevitable evolution of the legal order in response to social and political change.

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