Eric Schneiderman’s Work Despite His Disgrace

New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, with Associate United States Attorney General, Tony West, at a press conference announcing a civil lawsuit against investment bank JPMorgan Chase. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Isaac Simon

What started off as shock for New Yorkers quickly turned into sadness and anger as the news of Schneiderman’s private violent encounters with several women became public. Schneiderman, who has since resigned, has defended himself, telling both the public and the press that all of the acts in question were consensual. While the four women that came forward to The New Yorker tell a different story, there is no doubt that his actions and behavior are beyond troubling.

Although his supporters expected better of him, their collective response quickly filtered into frustration, carrying with it a sense of lingering hopelessness. Now that the forces of justice have come knocking at Eric Schneiderman’s door, New York’s former Attorney General is without a job and his supporters, without a plan. But before outlining what lies ahead, it would be unfair to gloss over the accomplishments that proceeded his downfall.

He was successful in suing Trump University, a case that was built up and won over three years of litigation and resulted in $25 million in damages paid out by President Trump himself.

The status of what Schneidermanwas in the process pursuing is now in question. His office was at the forefront of fighting for justice against the president, with more than thirty active lawsuits against him, spanning everything from immigration to the environment. But his work for the state went beyond Trump too. As Attorney General and top Litigator, his tenure included the sponsorship of Rockefeller Drug Law which focused on reducing extended mandatory minimum sentences and rates of prison recidivism.

At the time of his resignation, Schneiderman was putting pressure on the New York State legislature to change the state’s double jeopardy law concerning issuing of federal pardons. As it currently stands, New York State’s double jeopardy law prevents a person from being charged for the same crime in the same act, even if the trial took place in Federal court. If this specific exception to the law is added, that would allow Schneiderman and others to go after aides connected to the president who have committed state crimes even if they were issued a pardon for federal crimes.

The use of the presidential pardon does not extend beyond the realm of federal law even though Trump has curiosity with this power. As Schneiderman awaits indictment for his own bad behavior, the office’s investigations into Trump’s charges of racketeering, foreign embezzlement, and sexual assault have reached a standstill.

Barbara Underwood is the acting Attorney General. New Yorkers will vote in upcoming election this fall. But as many have pointed out, New Yorkers should vote in someone who has a strong background in both state and constitutional law.

During the height of his popularity, Schneiderman was accurately labeled a firebrand politician, often known by many as someone who did their homework and didn’t go down without a fight. While no one except himself could have imagined that his toughest battle was lost from within, the fight against Trump is not only ongoing but unrelenting. The president’s long track record of bad behavior, his connection to Michael Cohen, and a series of non-disclosure agreements have put him at the center of a scandal he has proved immune to.

Although it is ironic certain issues of importance came in the form of supporting certain laws, such as the Strangulation Prevention Act; acts of violence which he publicly spoke about preventing but ended up privately perpetuating, the deeper frustration lies in our society’s continued inability to bring down the man at the top and the administration officials that stand by his side.

It is unclear if the investigation into Schneiderman will yield prison time. While there is no arguing over the severity of his crimes, the future of New York’s Attorney General’s office serves as a continued question mark. One can only hope that the work Schneiderman carried out during his tenure is continued by his successor.

About Isaac Simon 8 Articles
Isaac Simon is a senior at Umass-Amherst where he studies journalism and Judaic Studies. A columnist for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Isaac’s main area of interest resides in the history of the Holocaust and its various forms of representation in both Europe and the United States.