Leslie Crocker Snyder

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Leslie Crocker Snyder (born 1942) is an American lawyer and former judge, most notable for her challenge of Robert Morgenthau in the Democratic Party primary for the Manhattan District Attorney election in 2005. Morgenthau did not seek re-election in 2009. Snyder ran again. Once again she finished second, this time losing to Cyrus Vance, Jr. by a wide margin. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but has spent most of her life in New York City.

Legal career[edit]

After attending Radcliffe College (now Harvard) and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law on scholarship, Snyder was admitted to the Ohio State Bar in 1966 and the New York State Bar in 1967, Snyder has worked in the New York criminal justice system for over thirty-five years, both as a prosecutor and as a judge. She was the first female to try felony and homicide cases as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's office under Frank Hogan and Robert Morgenthau. During her nine years in the office, Snyder founded and led the Sex Crimes Prosecution Bureau, which was the first in the nation and co-authored New York State's Rape Shield Law.

After leaving the New York County District Attorney's Office, Snyder was named the Chief of Trials at the Office of the Special Prosecutor against Corruption. She re-entered the public sector after three years as a defense attorney for indigent clients and became Deputy Criminal Justice Coordinator and Head of the Arson Strike Force at the Office of the New York City Criminal Justice Coordinator. Soon after, she was appointed to the position of a Judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York in 1983 by Mayor Ed Koch. She was reappointed to the Criminal Court Judgeship by Mayor David Dinkins in 1993

While serving as a Criminal Court Judge, Snyder was designated by the state courts administration to serve as an Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Criminal Term. This is a common procedure done in New York in order to provide more judges to handle felony criminal cases. It is easier to designate Acting Supreme Court Justices than to create more judgeships on the Supreme Court.[citation needed] Most Acting Justices come from either the New York City Criminal Court or Civil Court of the state Court of Claims bench. In June 2000, Judge Snyder was appointed by Gov. George Pataki, and confirmed by the New York Senate to a seven year term on the New York Court of Claims. While she was a Court of Claims Judge, Snyder continued to serve as an Acting Supreme Court Justice and continued to handle criminal cases in New York County, New York.[citation needed]

While on the bench, Snyder presided over such trials as those of the "Gheri Curls", the "Wild Cowboys", the "Young Talented Children" and the "Natural Born Killers", among others, including those of murderers, rapists, as well as many white-collar, stock fraud and mob cases. [1]

She resigned from the Court of Claims in 2004 in order to prepare for her run for District Attorney. Snyder became a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP in 2003. She has since left the firm. [2]


Leslie Crocker Snyder is also a board member of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, DARE, Abraham House, Federal Drug Agents Foundation, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Personal life[edit]

Snyder has been married to her husband for forty years; they have two grown children. She is the author of 25 to Life, a memoir of her legal experiences, both as a prosecutor and as a judge.[1]

She has appeared on numerous television programs including 60 Minutes, The Today Show, and The Charlie Rose Show. She has been featured on news, cable, and Court TV programs regarding crime, drugs and drug gangs, rape, women and the law, criminal law, and law enforcement.[1]

Running for Manhattan District Attorney[edit]

In 2005, Snyder challenged incumbent District Attorney Robert Morgenthau in the Democratic Party primary for election to the position of Manhattan District Attorney. Snyder garnered 42% of the vote, while Morgenthau took 58%. Morgenthau was eventually elected to his ninth term. The New York Times, a long supporter of Morgenthau, endorsed Snyder in its August 30, 2005 editorial, "When To End An Era", citing Snyder's "unquestioned ability and broad experience", "impressive energy", and "new ideas".

In 2008, Snyder renounced her support for the death penalty.[3] She said she had done so after learning more about wrongful convictions in capital cases.

On February 27, 2009 the New York Post reported[4] that Morgenthau would not seek reelection. After the announcement, she, along with Cyrus Vance, Jr. and Richard Aborn announced their candidacy for the district attorney race. The New York Times this time did not endorse Snyder but chose to endorse Cyrus Vance Jr., who won by a wide margin.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Leslie Snyder official website
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Leslie Crocker Snyder gets backing from law enforcement unions"
  4. ^ "Morgenthau opts not to run again"
  5. ^ "New York Times endorses Cyrus Vance, Jr."