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Subject: Judge Allen G. Schwartz, Corporation Counsel to Koch

New York
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Date Posted: March 24, 2003 9:43:20 EDT

Allen G. Schwartz, a federal court judge who was New York City's corporation counsel under Mayor Edward I. Koch, died Saturday. He was 68 and lived in Rye, N.Y.

Mr. Schwartz, who had bone marrow cancer, suffered cardiac arrest and was involved in an accident on Friday as he drove home from the federal court house in White Plains, his family said. His heart ailment was ruled the cause of death.

Mr. Schwartz was appointed to the federal bench in the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and his work on the bench continued in Manhattan and White Plains until his death.

Before he became a judge, he spent years in private practice and was Mr. Koch's first corporation counsel. He was in that post from 1978 to 1981.

Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Koch had long and close personal ties, formed in part when they were partners in the law firm of Koch, Lankenau, Schwartz and Kovner.

Because of his ties to Mr. Koch, Mr. Schwartz was able to swiftly revamp the corporation counsel's office, which was in disarray like many other city offices because of a fiscal crisis. His predecessor, W. Bernard Richland, wrote to the City Council in 1976, describing the office as "decimated" and "on the edge of disaster."

Mr. Schwartz moved the office from antiquated quarters in the Municipal Building to modern offices nearby, and dealt with a heavy backlog of cases by attracting dedicated young lawyers, hiring others from the private sector when specialized expertise was needed and instituting a pro bono program in which major law firms performed extensive free legal work for the city. One result was that money collected through various legal actions grew sharply, and the law department revenues under Mr. Schwartz began exceeding expenditures.

Mr. Schwartz advised Mayor Koch on a range of policy questions, including the ill-fated Westway highway project and the city's troubled public transit system.

After leaving City Hall, Mr. Schwartz returned to private law practice, but worked pro bono as the city's sports commissioner in 1982 and 1983. His interest in that post stemmed from a lifelong fascination with baseball.

Mr. Schwartz was born on August 23, 1934, in Brooklyn, and graduated from City College in 1955. He received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1958, and married the former Joan Teitel in 1965.

Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, David, of Manhattan; two daughters, Rachel, of Washington D.C., and Deborah Meer, of Manhattan; and a brother, Robert Schwartz, of Los Angeles.

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