Attorney General Loretta Lynch, 2016 Janet Reno Torchbearer Recipient
Loretta E. Lynch was sworn in as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States by Vice President Joe Biden on April 27, 2015. President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Ms. Lynch on November 8, 2014.
As the nation's top law enforcement officer, Ms. Lynch is responsible for enforcing federal laws, many of which have a serious impact on the legal rights and futures of women across this country. Ms. Lynch is dedicated to the rule of law and public service. She has a long and impressive career comprising private practice, teaching, and substantial government service. She has built a reputation as a fair and even-handed prosecutor, handling tough cases well. Making history as the first African American woman to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General, Ms. Lynch serves as a role model and inspiration for women and girls around the country.
In 1990, after a stint in private practice, Ms. Lynch joined the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and forged an impressive career prosecuting cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption, and civil rights. In one notable instance, she served on the prosecution team in the high-profile civil rights case - United States vs. Volpe - of Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant who was sexually assaulted by uniformed police officers in a Brooklyn police precinct in 1997.
In 1999, President Clinton appointed Ms. Lynch to lead the office as United States Attorney—a post she held until 2001. Subsequently, Ms. Lynch was a litigator at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel and then joined Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) as a partner in the firm's New York office. While in private practice, Ms. Lynch performed extensive pro bono work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in the 1994 genocide in that country. As Special Counsel to the Tribunal, she was responsible for investigating allegations of witness tampering and false testimony.
In 2010, President Obama asked Ms. Lynch to resume her leadership of the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. Under her direction, the office successfully prosecuted numerous corrupt public officials, terrorists, cybercriminals and human traffickers, among other important cases. In that position, she tried more terrorism cases since 9/11 than any other office, including successfully prosecuting the terrorists who plotted to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank and the New York City subway.
Bold and courageous, Ms. Lynch is not afraid to speak out and bring wrongdoers to justice. She has accused FIFA officials of abusing their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, allegedly getting away with bribery and corruption for more than two decades. In the past, during her tenure as a prosecutor, she had taken on the mafia – notably New York mafia captain Vincent Asaro and his Bonanno family crew in a 36-year-old cold case. Asaro was one of the masterminds behind the famous Lufthansa Airlines robbery in 1978. More than $6 million in cash and jewelry were stolen from Kennedy Airport, which was the largest cash robbery of its time and was made famous in the movie Goodfellas.
Ms. Lynch received her A.B., cum laude, from Harvard College in 1981, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984.
Ms. Lynch is the daughter of Lorenzo and Lorine Lynch of Durham, N.C., a retired minister and a librarian whose commitment to justice and public service has been the inspiration for her life’s work.