What does the Manhattan district attorney do?

New York Elections
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. speaks at a news conference in New York on Feb. 24, 2020.

NEW YORK — With the state’s primary just a few months away, the race for Manhattan district attorney is heating up.

While each borough in New York City has its own district attorney, only the Manhattan and Brooklyn DA seats are up for grabs in the June primary and November general election.

Incumbent Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is running for re-election and appears to be unopposed, according to state campaign finance records.

Meanwhile, current Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced in mid-March he would not seek re-election, opening the high-powered seat to a wide field of contenders.

Why is the race for Manhattan DA important? Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

What does the Manhattan district attorney do?

The Manhattan district attorney is the top prosecutor in New York County. They are responsible for holding those who violate state and local laws accountable.

The Manhattan DA also shapes criminal justice policy, including reforms and crime prevention strategy.

With over two dozen units and bureaus ranging from child abuse and cybercrime to tax crimes, human trafficking and hate crimes, the district attorney has help from dozens of assistant district attorneys who handle investigations and prosecutions. There’s also an expansive office support staff that assists the assistant district attorneys in their work.

How long is a district attorney allowed to stay in office?

Voters have the opportunity to elect a district attorney every four years, however, the role is not term-limited. An incumbent district attorney can run for re-election as many times as they want.

Vance’s predecessor, Robert Morgenthau, held the job for over three decades — from 1975 to 2009.

The Manhattan DA’s Trump investigation

Among countless open cases, the Manhattan district attorney’s office is currently examining former President Donald’s finances for possible fraud.

Whoever becomes the next Manhattan DA will be tasked with taking over the investigation.

When Vance announced he would not seek re-election, he stressed in a memo to staff that the Trump investigation would not stop after he leaves office.

“The work continues,” Vance wrote, echoing his short statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February that he could have Trump’s tax records.

Vance recently hired former mafia prosecutor Mark Pomerantz as a special assistant district attorney to assist in the wide-ranging probe of Trump’s finances.

The inquiry, according to court filings, includes an examination of whether Trump or his businesses lied about the value of assets to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits. The district attorney’s office also is scrutinizing hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf.

Who is running to replace DA Vance?

There are five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, according to state campaign finance records. An additional three Democratic candidates have publicly announced campaigns. One Republican candidate is also running, according campaign finance records.

Republican candidates

Democratic candidates

Who can vote?

Only registered voters who live in Manhattan can elect the borough’s next district attorney. Voters who live in Brooklyn will see candidates for that borough’s race on their ballot. The district attorney seats in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are not up for election in 2021.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.

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