Charles Hynes, 78, the district attorney who was Brooklyn's most powerful political figure and top law enforcement officer for more than 23 years, liked to say he would probably die in office, says the New York Times. As he instituted programs that changed New York City's criminal justice system and became a heavyweight in the borough's insular political world, there seemed to be no part of Brooklyn he had not touched and few members of the bar who had not worked with or against him.
On Tuesday, he accepted a stunning defeat as voters put a much younger man into his place, Kenneth Thompson, 47. He became the first district attorney in the city to lose a re-election bid since 1955. He took office in 1990, at a time when crime was rampant, racial tensions seethed daily and Irish-Americans like Hynes were still a potent political force in the borough. By the time he cast a vote for himself in his bid for a seventh term on Tuesday, crime in Brooklyn had dropped 80 percent, and the anti-domestic-violence and drug-treatment programs he pioneered had been imitated around the country.