By Shayna Jacobs
CENTRAL HARLEM — Cyrus Vance Jr. was sworn in as Manhattan's first new district attorney in nearly four decades Monday night at City College.
At an assembly hall filled with 900 city dignitaries and other guests, Vance promised to prevent wrongful convictions and honor the legacy of his legendary predecessor.
"Around the country we still see injustice in our court system," Vance said in his inaugural speech. "I am mindful of our dual responsibilities as prosecutors to protect the innocent from wrongful conviction, as much as the victims who have been wronged."
The new DA said there is a "delicate and important balance" that must be met between vigorously prosecuting cases and dropping charges when evidence is lacking.
Vance paid homage to legendary district attorney, 90-year-old Robert Morgenthau.
"When Robert Morgenthau arrived in 1975, it would have been impossible to predict the impact he would have on the city," said Vance, who was an assistant district attorney under Morgenthau in the 1980s.
"His message to the staff was always simple and clear: to prosecute without fear and without favor," Vance said. "His name was, is and always will be 'the Boss.' "
During the campaign, Morgenthau endorsed Vance, who was in a tight match against Leslie Crocker Snyder, a former judge, and Richard Aborn, an attorney and anti-gun activist.
Caroline Kennedy, Sen. Chuck Schumer, former mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch, Rev. Calvin Butts, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio were among those who attended.
Dinkins said he was sold on Vance when he heard the candidate "would make a higher priority of the prevention of crimes than the prosecution of criminals."
Touting his readiness for filling the "big shoes" of Morgenthau, Vance said his father, secretary of state under President Jimmy Carter, taught him that teamwork is the key to earning respect as a newcomer.
That, and carrying on the legacy of those who came before him, including "gangbuster" Thomas Dewey, Manhattan's first elected DA, and Frank Hogan, who took office in 1941 and was known for his "honesty and incorruptibility."
"The foundations that they so carefully built, I will faithfully preserve," Vance said.