Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mass. first Hispanic U.S. Attorney is female

State’s first female, Hispanic U.S. attorney
Lawyer takes historic step
By Laurel J. Sweet, Boston Herald, January 12, 2010

All guts, grit and glamor, Carmen Milagros Ortiz of Milton was sworn in yesterday with the double-barreled distinction of being the state’s first female and first Hispanic U.S. attorney.

And safe to say - with a star-studded welcoming that was the legal community’s equal of Academy Awards night - this successful woman had more than a few good men happy to stand behind her.

Extolling the “characteristic charm and energy” of the widowed mother of two daughters U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has known Ortiz, 53, since he was a trial lawyer and she a law student interning for the public integrity section of the Department of Justice, said, “Carmen is a natural leader.”

A beaming Ortiz told Holder, “Boy, have we come a long way, huh?”

Holder’s presence at the federal courthouse in South Boston brought with it disconcerting scores of homeland security officials armed with machine guns.

Ortiz, who was a federal prosecutor for 12 years until she was nominated last fall by President Obama, was sworn in by the always mischievous Mark L. Wolf, chief judge of U.S. District Court in Boston.

Wolf playfully warned Holder of Ortiz’ appointment, “To prevail in front of me, the evidence has to be persuasive,” then let the overflow crowd vote on whether he should accept it. They obliged with a cheering, standing ovation.

Wolf said he hopes Ortiz will serve as an inspiration to youth who “desperately need” role models.

Ortiz, a product of hardscrabble Spanish Harlem, said Obama “has given me the opportunity of a lifetime,” and she hopes to have shown her children that “with hard work and perseverance, you can have a happy and fulfilling life, and you can have it all.”

Ortiz said her office’s “top priority” will be to thwart acts of terrorism.

Attorney Sharon Hanson, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis’ chief of staff and Ortiz’ friend of 25 years, told the audience that with Ortiz in office, “You are about to embark on a high quality, innovative and energetic ride.”

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