Jeanine Pirro

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Jeanine Pirro
District Attorney for Westchester County
In office
Chairwoman of the New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities
In office
1997 – TBD
Governor George Pataki
Westchester County Court Judge
In office
Personal details
Born Jeanine Ferris
(1951-06-02) June 2, 1951 (age 65)
Elmira, New York, U.S.[1]
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Albert Pirro (m. 1975; div. 2013)
Children 2
Alma mater Albany Law School
University at Buffalo
Occupation Fox News anchor, attorney, district attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Jeanine Ferris Pirro (born June 2, 1951) is a former prosecutor, judge, and elected official from the state of New York,[2][3][4] who is a legal analyst and television personality. Pirro is the host of Fox News Channel’s political commentary television show Justice with Judge Jeanine which premiered in January 2011. She is also a contributor on other Fox News shows and NBC's Today. She previously hosted a television court program, Judge Jeanine Pirro, later known simply as Judge Pirro.

A Republican from Chemung County, Pirro served as a county court judge before serving as the elected district attorney of Westchester County for 12 years. As a district attorney she gained considerable visibility, especially in cases regarding domestic abuse and crimes against the elderly. She was the first female judge on the Westchester County Court bench. Pirro was the Republican nominee for New York Attorney General in 2006, losing to Democrat Andrew Cuomo (a fellow Albany Law alumnus).


Early life[edit]

Pirro was born in Elmira, New York, to Nasser “Leo” and Esther (née Awad) Ferris. Her father was a mobile-home salesman; her mother a department-store model.

She graduated from Notre Dame High School in three years rather than the usual four.[5] She then graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University at Buffalo. She received her J.D. degree at Albany Law School in 1975.


Jeanine Ferris married Albert Pirro, a lobbyist, in 1975. The couple had a son and a daughter. In 2000, Pirro’s husband was convicted of federal tax evasion and conspiracy of over $1 million,[6] which was seen as possibly hurting her legal and political career prospects.[7] The conviction was so damning to her political career that she seriously considered resigning from her position as a state D.A. and taking a more lucrative post in the private sector.[8] In the midst of her 2006 state attorney general campaign, Pirro revealed she was the subject of a federal investigation into whether she illegally taped her husband’s conversations to catch him committing adultery.[9] The couple announced they were separating in November 2007 and finalized their divorce in 2013.[10][11]

Pirro received significant political contributions from her husband’s associates—after his release from prison[12]—throughout her numerous unsuccessful attempts to hold higher office.[12] These include numerous contractors and realtors who had done business with her husband.

Legal career[edit]

Westchester County positions[edit]

"In 1975, Judge Jeanine Pirro was appointed an Assistant District Attorney in New York’s Westchester County. During her career as an ADA, Jeanine Pirro established a reputation as a fighter and an extremely skilled prosecutor with a 100% conviction rate, including murder, rape and violent felonies. Jeanine Pirro created one of the first Domestic Violence Units in the nation recognizing the needs of women and children crime victims.

In November 1990, Jeanine Pirro was elected Westchester County Court Judge, becoming the first female county judge elected in county history. In November 1993, Judge Pirro was elected Westchester County District Attorney. Jeanine Pirro broke another gender barrier with that win, becoming the first woman in Westchester County history to hold such a position. She was re-elected in 1997 and 2001. She became the first female president of the New York State District Attorneys Association. As District Attorney, Jeanine Pirro was appointed by then Governor George Pataki to chair the New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. Its findings resulted in legislation being passed that increased protections and safeguards for domestic violence victims and their families.

Jeanine Pirro attended the University of Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Judge Jeanine Pirro graduated from Albany Law School of Union University where she was an editor of the law review."[13]

Pirro achieved considerable fame and media visibility, appearing on television programs such as Larry King Live and Nightline. People magazine named her as one of its 50 Most Beautiful People in 1997.[14]

On May 23, 2005, Pirro announced that she would not seek re-election as Westchester County District Attorney.[15]

Political career[edit]

In 1986, GOP gubernatorial candidate Andrew O'Rourke selected Pirro to be his running mate in the campaign.[16] However, 2 days later, Pirro withdrew without giving a reason and was quickly replaced by Michael Kavanagh.[17]

In 1997 she was appointed by then-governor George Pataki to chair the New York State Commission on Domestic Violence Fatalities, whose report and recommendations resulted in legislation passing that enhanced protections of, and safeguards for, the victims of domestic abuse.[18]

2006 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On August 10, 2005, in New York City, Pirro announced she would seek the Republican nomination to challenge first-term incumbent senator Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in the 2006 election for U.S. Senator from New York. Other Republicans who announced campaigns for the nomination were John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, William Brenner, an attorney in Sullivan County, and attorney Edward Cox, the son-in-law of former president Richard Nixon. In a widely publicised moment when she was declaring her candidacy, Pirro misplaced a page of her speech and went silent for 32 seconds, something that is widely considered to have damaged her campaign before it even started.[19]

During an appearance at the Crime Victims Resource Center, Pirro described herself this way: “I am red on fiscal policy. I am conservative and I support the Bush tax cut.” She added, however: “I have broad blue stripes when it comes to social issues.... I am a woman who is a moderate in New York.”[20] On gun control Pirro stated on her Fox TV show in December 2015, Justice with Judge Jeanine, "Get a gun, buy one legally, learn how to shoot it and be primed to use it. And, I don't care if you get a long gun, a hand gun, a revolver or a semi automatic. Get whatever gun you can handle and don't let anyone talk you out of it. The second amendment of the Constitution and the United States Supreme court confirm your right to have one."[21] She is also a supporter of affirmative action and staunchly in favor of a woman's right to an abortion, including being supportive of U.S. taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid.[22] Republican governor George Pataki's endorsement of Pirro caused Cox to withdraw from the race,[23] leaving Pirro as the likely nominee. Donors to Pirro's political campaign included designer Tommy Hilfiger (also a native of Elmira) and Donald Trump, as well as contractors and real estate executives who had done business with her husband.[24]

On December 21, 2005, after continuing pressure from party chiefs, a lagging fundraising effort, and polls showing she would be defeated by Clinton (a Quinnipiac University poll found Pirro would lose to Clinton 62 percent to 30 percent), Jeanine Pirro dropped out of the Senate race just two months after she started her campaign. “I have decided that my law enforcement background better qualifies me for a race for New York State attorney general than a race for the United States Senate,” she said in a statement.[25] Spencer was eventually chosen as the Republican Party's nominee for the U.S. Senate.[26]

2006 State attorney general campaign[edit]

On May 31, 2006, Pirro, unopposed for the GOP nomination, became the party’s official candidate for attorney general by acclamation at the GOP convention.[27] She also held the nominations of the New York Conservative and Independence Parties. However, in the general election, Pirro lost to the Democratic nominee, former Clinton Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo 58%–39%.[28]

TV/media career[edit]

Pirro was a regular contributor to The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. She is currently contributing to Today, Fox NY Good Day New York, is a Fox News legal analyst appearing on various shows, and has guest hosted shows such as Larry King Live, The Joy Behar Show, and Geraldo at Large. She is a frequent guest on Fox’s late-night satire show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld.[29]

In 2003 Pirro released the nonfiction book To Punish and Protect, describing life inside the criminal justice system. In 2012, with the assistance of author Pete Earley, Pirro wrote the novel Sly Fox based on her own experiences as a 25-year-old assistant district attorney in Westchester.[29] She appears in the HBO six-part serial The Jinx recounting her perspective on the 1983 disappearance of Kathie Durst, a high-profile case for which she was the investigating attorney.

Judge Jeanine Pirro on The CW[edit]

On May 5, 2008, The CW announced that Pirro would host a weekday television show to be named Judge Jeanine Pirro, part of the network's CW Daytime lineup and that featured two episodes airing daily. The show was distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television and was by default carried by all CW affiliates.[30]

Judge Jeanine Pirro was cleared for a second season beginning in fall 2009. Unlike its first season, the second season launching fall 2009 was not exclusive to CW affiliates.[31] In May 2010, the show received its first Emmy nomination, and in 2011, received the daytime Emmy Award. In September 2011, Judge Jeanine Pirro was canceled due to low ratings.

Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News Channel[edit]

Pirro is the host of Fox News Channel’s Justice with Judge Jeanine, which premiered in January 2011. It airs on weekends and focuses on the big legal stories of the week.[32]


  1. ^ Hu, Winnie (June 23, 2000). "Husband Is Convicted, But Jeanine Pirro Is Topic". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Women in the Practice of Law : Jeanine Pirro, Westchester County District Attorney". Columbia university Law Library. Jeanine Pirro is the first woman District Attorney in Westchester County, the first woman Westchester County court judge, the first woman to try a murder case in Westchester County and the first woman in New York State to be named "outstanding prosecutor." 
  3. ^ "THE LAW; Jeanine Pirro's Pursuit". The New York Times. February 3, 2002. 
  4. ^ "The Many Faces of Jeanine Pirro". The New York Times. November 12, 2000. 
  5. ^ "Pirro's second act". Archived from the original on November 2, 2005. 
  6. ^ "Federal Jury Convicts Pirro On All Tax-Fraud Charges". June 23, 2000. Retrieved 2016-07-11. 
  7. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (July 27, 2000). "Pirro Faces Questions About Future as Prosecutor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ By LISA W. FODERAROPublished: July 27, 2000 (2000-07-27). "Pirro Faces Questions About Future as Prosecutor - New York Times". Archived from the original on November 14, 2013. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  9. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (October 3, 2006). "Pirro Smiles for Cameras, Seeking to Repair Her Image". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  10. ^ Kathleen Lucadamo; Celeste Katz (November 18, 2007). "It's splitsville for Jeanine and Al Pirro". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. 
  11. ^ Finn, Robin (December 6, 2009). "Leniency for the Judge's Animals". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "'MY OWN WOMAN' Pirro defends her record in an explosive interview W'CHESTER DA SHOUTS: 'I'M NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY HUSBAND!' - NY Daily News". 3 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Jeanine Pirro". LinkedIn. [unreliable source?]
  14. ^ Gray, Kevin (May 10, 1999). "Pirro Mania". New York Metro. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Jeanine Pirro will not seek re-election as county DA". Archived from the original on May 25, 2005. 
  16. ^ Lynn, Frank (May 27, 1986). "A Prosecutor Is Picked To Run With O'rourke". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. 
  17. ^ Lynn, Frank (May 29, 1986). "Surprise G.O.P. Candidate Leaves Race". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Judge Jeanine Pirro". Fox News Insider. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Media Tip: How to Recover From a Brain Freeze". Political Wire. December 31, 2012. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  20. ^ "|". Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved January 5, 2011. [dead link]
  21. ^ Bumiller, Elisabeth (1999-01-28). "PUBLIC LIVES - In High-Profile Race of Maybes, Add Pirro". New York State; Westchester County (Ny): Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  22. ^ "Helping Hillary now will hurt the Republicans later". TheHill. Retrieved 2016-04-10. 
  23. ^ Raymond Hernandez; Michael Cooper (October 15, 2005). "Pirro's Path to Republican Nomination Is Clearer, but Obstacles Remain". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. 
  24. ^ Greg B. Smith (May 9, 2005). "'MY OWN WOMAN' Pirro defends her record in an explosive interview W'CHESTER DA SHOUTS: 'I'M NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY HUSBAND!'". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ CBS News Archived January 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  26. ^ "Spencer Wins Senate Nod, Pirro Accepts AG Spot At GOP Convention". NY1. May 31, 2006. Archived from the original on May 7, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Regional & NY State News on". Retrieved January 5, 2011. [dead link]
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b Sherryl Connelly (July 23, 2012). "TV judge Jeanine Pirro publishes her first novel, 'Sly Fox,' using some of her own history as inspiration". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on April 23, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Former NY DA Pirro gets TV show". Daily News. Associated Press. May 5, 2008. Archived from the original on July 3, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014. 
  31. ^ Paige Albiniak (February 9, 2009). "'Pirro' Preps for Fall Launch". Broadcasting & Cable. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
  32. ^ Alex Weprin (December 21, 2010). "Jeanine Pirro To Host Weekend Show for Fox News". Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dora Irizarry
Republican Nominee for New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.