Skip to main content
Historical Biography

Attorney General: Michael B. Mukasey

Mukasey, Michael B.
81st Attorney General, -

Michael B. Mukasey was born on July 28, 1941 in the Bronx, New York. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1963 and his law degree from Yale University in 1967. At Yale he was a member of the Board of Editors of the Yale Law Journal.

After graduation from law school, Mr. Mukasey entered private practice with the firm of Webster, Sheffield, Fleischmann, Hitchcock & Brookfield in New York City where he remained until 1972. At that time, he took a position as assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. In 1975, he became Chief of the Official Corruption Unit of the assistant US attorney’s office. Mr. Mukasey returned to private practice in 1976 as a partner with the New York law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler and remained in private practice until 1987.

President Reagan nominated Michael B. Mukasey to the bench of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and he was confirmed in that position in November 1987. Mr. Mukasey became the chief judge of the court in 2000 and served in that capacity until his retirement from the bench in 2006. During that time, Judge Mukasey presided over hundreds of cases, including the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 co-defendants charged with conspiring to blow up numerous sites in New York. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he was widely praised for the speed with which the federal courthouse, located just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, returned to normal operation.

Judge Mukasey has received numerous awards including the Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence from the Federal Bar Council and an honorary degree from the Brooklyn Law School.

In addition to his many other professional and civic activities, Judge Mukasey has served as a lecturer in law at Columbia University, director of the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation and as a director of the Jewish Children’s Museum.

After his retirement from the court, Judge Mukasey returned to private practice at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler until he was nominated by President George W. Bush to become the Attorney General on September 17, 2007. The Senate subsequently confirmed his nomination on November 8, 2007.

About the Artist: Joyce Zeller

Joyce Zeller studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Student League. Her portraits have won many awards including the Thora Jensen Memorial Portrait Award presented by the Salmagundi Club and the Katherine A. Lovell award presented by the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club at the National Arts Club in New York. Ms. Zeller’s many prestigious commissions include various federal court judges, physicians and attorneys.  Ms. Zeller created the portrait of Michael Mukasey while he was the Chief Judge for the U.S District Court in the Southern District of New York prior to painting his official portrait as Attorney General. Ms. Zeller resides in Harrison, New York. 

Updated October 24, 2022