Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: November 20, 1997

Release #699-97

Contact: Colleen Roche/Jack Deacy 212-788-2958


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today named Michael D. Hess as the City's Corporation Counsel. Mr. Hess will leave his current position as Senior Litigation Partner at the New York City law firm of Chadbourne & Parke early in 1998 to assume the leadership of the City's Law Department.

With a staff of 1300, including 600 attorneys, and an annual budget of $70 million, the Law Department represents the City of New York and each of its agencies in the conduct of all City litigation and legal business. Mr. Hess succeeds Paul A. Crotty, who resigned on November 6 after serving as Corporation Counsel for the past four years.

"I am delighted that Michael Hess has agreed to return to public service and share his time and talent to take charge of the City's legal business," Mayor Giuliani said. " I have known and respected Mike since we worked together as young Assistant United States Attorneys in the Southern District of New York. He is an outstanding lawyer, whose ability, judgment, and wisdom are highly regarded throughout the legal profession. I can think of no candidate better suited to take on the critical responsibility of Corporation Counsel and I look forward to working with him and benefiting from his counsel."

Michael D. Hess said,"I want to thank the Mayor for giving me the opportunity to lead the New York City Law Department. It is one of the most challenging and exciting legal positions in the United States and I look forward to working with the Mayor and the excellent staff at the Law Department. It is an honor to be able to serve the people of New York City in this position."

Mr. Hess began his legal career in 1965, as a Law Clerk to United States District Judge Thomas Croake. From 1966 to 1973, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he quickly was promoted to Chief Appellate Attorney of the Civil Division, before being appointed Chief of the Civil Division in 1970. Among the celebrated cases Mr. Hess personally litigated was Galella vs. U.S. Secret Service and Onassis, in which he defended the actions of the Secret Service in imposing reasonable limitations on the right of the paparazzi to photograph the Kennedy/Onassis family. Mr. Hess was also co-lead counsel with United States Attorney Whitney North Seymour Jr. in United States vs. New York Times, popularly known as the Pentagon Papers case.

Mr. Hess joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 1973, serving as the Administrative Partner of the Litigation Department for ten years. In this position, as he had done in the U.S. Attorney's Office, he supervised and trained a large legal staff. He continued in private practice as a litigation partner through his current affiliation with Chadbourne & Parke. Among the many civil and criminal cases Mr. Hess has litigated in private practice was his representation of the New York State Urban Development Corporation in an action that began the redevelopment and cleanup of Times Square through the building of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. In that case he worked closely with the Corporation Counsel's Office, which represented the City.

His talents have also been called upon by the Federal Court System, first in 1988 when Judge Mary Johnson Lowe appointed Mr. Hess a government trustee over certain corporate assets in the case of U.S. v. Salerno, and then in 1992 when Judge Shirley Wohl Kram appointed him a Special Master in the Integrated Resources case. Moreover, Mr. Hess has been a guest lecturer on various aspects of litigation at Columbia, Fordham and New York University Law Schools, as well as lecturer at New York Law School and the Practicing Law Institute. Mr. Hess graduated from Yale College, Magna Cum Laude and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from the Harvard Law School. Mr. Hess is married and has two grown children.

Since 1973 Mr. Hess has volunteered his time as a trustee of Horace Mann School, and has served as Chairman of the School's Board of Trustees since 1994. He is also currently the Vice-Chairman of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation and the Chairman of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Appointments. In addition to his busy litigation schedule and volunteer activities, Mr. Hess has provided wise counsel to such clients as the Board of Trustees of City University, the Battery Park City Authority, and Montefiore and its affiliated hospitals.

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