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Robert Abrams

Robert Abrams
60th New York State Attorney General
In office
1979 – December 31, 1993
Governor Hugh Carey, Mario Cuomo
Preceded by Louis Lefkowitz
Succeeded by G. Oliver Koppell
9th Borough president of The Bronx
In office
Preceded by Herman Badillo
Succeeded by Stanley Simon
Personal details
Born (1938-07-04) July 4, 1938
Bronx, New York
Nationality United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Diane Schulder Abrams
Alma mater NYU School of Law
Columbia College
Occupation Lawyer

Robert Abrams (born July 4, 1938 in The Bronx, New York City) is an American lawyer and politician. He was Attorney General of New York from 1979 to 1993.


  • Personal Life 1
  • Career 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Personal Life

Abrams was born in The Bronx, New York City, the son of Benjamin and Dorothy Abrams. He has one sister, Marlene (Abrams) Kitrosser. On September 15, 1974, he married Diane Schulder Abrams. Diane Schulder Abrams, an attorney, created and taught the first "Women and the Law" course in an American law school. They have two daughters, Rachel and Becky.


He graduated from Columbia College and the New York University School of Law. He is considered a member of the reform wing of the Democratic Party.

Abrams was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1966 to 1969, sitting in the 176th, 177th and 178th New York State Legislatures. From 1970 to 1978, he was Borough President of the Bronx and an ex officio member of the New York City Board of Estimate.

He was a delegate to the 1988, he was a presidential elector, voting for Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen.

Abrams was elected New York Attorney General in 1978, the first time in forty years a Democrat was elected to that post and was subsequently re-elected three times, in 1982, 1986, and 1990. He defeated future Republican Rep. Peter King in his 1986 re-election campaign for Attorney General.[1] Abrams built a reputation as an activist and consumer advocate, taking on environmental polluters, charity frauds, discrimination in housing and various activities in the marketplace.[2] He is also well known for the manner in which he handled an extremely difficult assignment, that of special prosecutor investigating the claims of Tawana Brawley. Governor Mario Cuomo directed him in 1988 to investigate the claims of Brawley, a black teen-ager, that she had been abducted and raped in upstate Dutchess County by a gang of whites. A lengthy grand jury inquiry supervised by Abrams's office later concluded that she had fabricated her story.[2]

During his tenure as Attorney General, Abrams received numerous awards and honors and earned national prominence rarely achieved by a state-level official. He served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General and was selected by his colleagues to receive the coveted Wyman Award as Outstanding Attorney General in the Nation.[3]

In 1992, Abrams sought election to the United States Senate, to challenge Republican Senator Al D'Amato. He won the Democratic Primary, defeating former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, Rev. Al Sharpton, and New York City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman. The nomination battle was well known for its bitterness, particularly Holtzman and Abrams' attack on Ferraro's questionable associations which Ferraro interpreted as anti-Italian slurs. After Abrams emerged as the nominee, the Democrats remained divided and he was unable to secure Ferraro's endorsement until the last days of the campaign. Abrams was also criticized for calling D'Amato a fascist, and he narrowly lost the general election as a result of these controversies.[4]

After narrowly losing the Senate race Abrams announced his resignation from the office of attorney general on September 8, 1993, to take effect on December 31. He had a year left in his term. In 1996, the New York University School of Law established an annual lecture program, the Attorney General Robert Abrams Public Service Lecture whereby each year a prominent public figure who has performed exemplary public services addresses the students, faculty and alumni of the law school to urge students to consider all or a portion of their career to be dedicated to public service.

Upon leaving politics, Abrams immediately joined Stroock Stroock Lavan as a partner. and has remained active in civic affairs in New York.[4] Mayor Bloomberg appointed Abrams in 2005 to serve on the New York City Charter Revision Commission. In 2006, New York Governor Elect Eliot Spitzer appointed Abrams to serve as Co-Chair of his Policy Advisory Committee on Governmental Reform for his Transition, and New York Attorney General Elect Andrew Cuomo appointed him Executive Chair of his Transition Committee. In 2008, New York Governor David Paterson appointed Abrams to serve on the Board of the United Nations Development Corporation.

On May 9, 2009, New York Governor David Paterson renamed the Justice Building at the Empire State Plaza in Albany the Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice. Also in 2009, Attorney General elect Eric Schneiderman appointed Abrams to serve as Honorary Co-Chair of his transition committee. In 2010, New York's Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman appointed him to be a member of the Advisory Council for the Retired Attorney Pro Bono Program. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Abrams as co-chairman of a Moreland Commission to investigate the preparedness and response of the utilities in New York State to Superstorm Sandy which took the lives of numerous New Yorkers and caused billions of dollars of damage.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Attorney General Abrams to Quit To Join a Law Firm in Manhattan. New York Times. September 9, 1993.
  • Political Graveyard
  • Attorney General Abrams to Quit To Join a Law Firm in Manhattan. New York Times. September 9, 1993.
  • Executive Order renaming Justice Building

External links

  • Robert Abrams - Partner: Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
New York Assembly
Preceded by
new district
New York State Assembly
89th District

Succeeded by
Alvin M. Suchin
Preceded by
John J. Walsh
New York State Assembly
81st District

Succeeded by
Alan Hochberg
Political offices
Preceded by
Herman Badillo
Borough President of the Bronx
Succeeded by
Stanley Simon
Legal offices
Preceded by
Louis J. Lefkowitz
New York Attorney General
Succeeded by
G. Oliver Koppell
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark J. Green
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from New York (Class 3)
Succeeded by
Chuck Schumer
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