Giuliani: The Passionate Prosecutor

Attorney Rudolph Giuliani snares mobsters and headlines

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Rare is the day that Giuliani's name does not appear in the papers. He is media savvy, not overtly calculating. He loves to talk (he does so with unselfconscious self-absorption), to expatiate in professorial detail (with the slightest hint of a lisp). He is also a modern haiku master who can distill a complicated answer into a crisp, 15-second sound bite. When necessary, he can be circumspect. After Giuliani testified at a recent hearing in New York on medical malpractice, one reporter tried to engage him in debate about the Mafia. He smiled mischievously. "Remember the rules. You ask the questions, I say, 'No comment.' "

Such discretion is an anomaly, say some critics. In his highly publicized indictments of organized-crime figures, some have been reminded of the Alice in Wonderland dictum: "Sentence first; verdict afterwards." They suggest that he is a glutton for publicity, and that his press conferences are part of a political campaign, the office to be determined later. But Giuliani responds that it is not a crime to want to go into politics; anyway, that is for the future. For him, publicity is a necessary weapon in his crusade against organized crime, and a way to dispel cynicism about law enforcement: "The only way to deliver a deterrent effectively is to publicize it. I want to send a message."

Giuliani believes that the legal system has come to favor the rights of the victimizer over the victim. "During the '50s and '60s," he says, "we socialized the responsibility for crime. We broke down the line between explanation and excuses, and explanations became excuses." The individual, he stresses, not the group, must be held morally responsible. "For purposes of ethics and of law," he says fervently, "we elevate human beings by holding them responsible. Ultimately, you diminish human individuality and importance when you say, 'Oh, well, you're not really responsible for what you did. Your parents are responsible for it, or your neighborhood is responsible for it, or society is responsible for it.' In fact, if you harm another human being, you're responsible for that."

The Commission trial will consume most of Giuliani's time in the coming months, except when he is overruled by his wife Donna Hanover, an anchor on a local TV station, and their first child Andrew Harold, who was born last week. But Giuliani takes time out for the unexpected pursuit. Not long ago, he attended a memorial Mass for Roger Maris at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Giuliani was that rare thing, a fan who preferred the saturnine Maris over his more popular teammate Mickey Mantle. "Mantle was a better natural hitter," Giuliani explains. "But Maris, a team player, always went for the long ball, for home runs." The scouting report on Giuliani would say the same thing.

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