N.Y.C.'s US attorney speaks out on the criminal justice system
United States Attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani was at his desk, busily composing a letter to the editor on a yellow legal pad. A month earlier, he had told the national press that it was ``a bad day . . . for the Mafia.'' That morning, Mr. Giuliani -- along with the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department -- announced the arrest of nine men reputed to head a ``commission'' overseeing five New York crime families. Now he was replying to a brief article in a New York daily that morning that had suggested that certain Italian-American leaders were angry with him for using the word Mafia so freely.Skip to next paragraph
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This controversy -- whether use of the word Mafia demeans Italian Americans -- is not new to him, Giuliani says. But then this frank-talking Republican in Democratic territory is not shy about controversy, and is decidedly press savvy. Both critics and supporters label him as bright, aggressive, hard working, and -- the word that can have positive and negative connotations -- ambitious. He just says he is doing a job he enjoys and does well.
At a time when many Americans are angry with a criminal justice system that they perceive to be inefficient and easy on criminals, Giuliani is an articulate critic within the system.
``The thing you have got to do with the justice system is make it become a reality for the criminal, for the potential criminal,'' says Giuliani, who gave up the No. 3 job at the US Justice Department for the prestigious but lower-paying post in New York. ``It has to get out on the street that if you get arrested, you are in a lot of trouble,'' he says. ``Not if you are arrested that there are a hundred ways out and not much of a sentence. . . . The criminal justice system is a joke to potential criminals.''
This is not unusual talk from a man who is charge of federal prosecutions in a territory that includes Manhattan, the Bronx, and six counties north of the city. But it could be the talk of a person with political ambitions, a suspicion whispered loudest by critics. There is speculation that he will run for office in the next couple of years. A bid for the governor's seat in 1986, which would likely be a contest with Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, is most often mentioned.
``This is a job that I have always wanted to do,'' says Giuliani, gesturing around his office. ``And I think I am good at running a public office. . . . I hope in the future that I will hold other public jobs, either appointed or elected. But I am not running for anything.''
Most people give Giuliani high marks. ``He's doing great,'' says Harold R. Tyler Jr., who has worked with Giuliani in both the public and private sectors. ``He is very active, highly motivated, and knowledgeable.'' Mr. Tyler is a former federal district judge and former Justice Department official during the Ford administration, and a man whom some consider to be Giuliani's mentor.
A spokesman for Mayor Edward I. Koch says the mayor is pleased with the help Giuliani's office has given in investigating municipal corruption and in prosecuting alleged drug dealers. One day a week, people arrested in the city's Operation Pressure Point, a drug-busting program in Harlem and the Lower East Side, are brought into the jurisdiction of the federal courts.