Globe photo/Dina Rudick
They met 30 years ago when he was a junior lawyer in the US Justice Department in Washington and she was a George Washington University Law School student with a summer internship in his unit.
Today, Eric H. Holder Jr., the nation's first black attorney general, officially swore in Carmen Milagros Ortiz as the first woman and Hispanic US attorney in Massachusetts. The ceremony was held at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse before hundreds of judges, dignitaries, lawyers and supporters of Ortiz.
"Have we come a long way, huh?'' Ortiz said to Holder, drawing loud applause and laughter in the packed courtroom.
Holder, for his part, praised Ortiz as a well-rounded lawyer and natural leader, and said the appointment of the first Latina US attorney in Massachusetts made it a ``great day ... an historic day.''
"Latinas have done pretty well over the last few months, and deservedly so,'' he said, an apparent reference to appointees such as Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Ortiz, who rose from humble roots in New York City's tough Spanish Harlem neighborhood and raised two daughters alone after her husband died of cancer in 2000, told the audience that "preventing acts of terrorism remains the first priority of this office.''
But she pledged to do so without violating anyone's civil liberties.
Her prosecutors, she said, will continue to target the mainstays of federal criminal cases: financial crimes, public corruption, violent crime and organized crime. She also wants to more vigorously go after other criminal activity such as computer and environmental crime.
Ortiz, who succeeded Michael J. Sullivan as US attorney and had been on the job for about two months, had another bit of good news this year. She became engaged to Thomas Dolan, an IBM employee, on New Year's Day, about seven weeks after US Chief District Judge Mark L. Wolf swore Ortiz in in a small, quiet ceremony in Boston.
Wolf, who presided over today's official swearing-in, quipped about Dolan's timing for getting engaged to Ortiz: "He knows an even better thing when he sees it.''
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