Zachary W. Carter, New York City’s corporation counsel, has been recognized with the 2016 Honorable George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award, given by the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association. Carter, who oversees New York City’s 700-attorney law department, was honored for his commitment to legal excellence and increasing diversity in the profession.
“The choice was clear. Not only has he worn many important hats as a lawyer— namely, judge, U.S. attorney, private practitioner, and provided unparalleled service to the mayors of New York City—Zachary Carter has always strived to promote equal justice for the citizens of New York,” said James M. Wicks (Farrell Fritz), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section. “He has dedicated so much of his life to public service in the very spirit of Judge Smith.”
The award is named for former Court of Appeals Associate Justice George Bundy Smith, who, in 2007, was the first recipient of the award.
Carter received the award on April 19 during the section’s Smooth Moves program, “Decade of Celebrating Diversity in the Profession,” at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan.
Carter was appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District—the first African-American to hold that office—by President Bill Clinton in 1993. His office prosecuted federal criminal cases, including narcotics, securities fraud and human trafficking.
Most notably, Carter oversaw civil rights prosecutions against police officers in the Abner Louima torture case and against rioters who killed Yankel Rosenbaum during the City’s Crown Heights riots in 1991.
Carter was previously a partner in the firm Dorsey & Whitney, where he oversaw the Trial Group at the firm’s New York office and was co-chair of its White Collar Crime and Civil Fraud practice.
He served as a magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and as a judge of the New York City Criminal Court. He has served as chair of the New York City Mayor’s Committee on the Judiciary from 2002 through 2013. He graduated from Cornell University in 1972 and New York University School of Law in 1975.
The New York Bar Foundation also presented the Section’s Minority Fellowship at the event to Simonne Isaac. She will begin a summer fellowship in the chambers of Justice Anil Singh of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court of New York (New York County) on June 9.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.
Contact: Christina Couto
Senior Media Writerccouto@nysba.org