The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) often handles nationally prominent cases. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York frequently brings these high-profile criminal and civil cases.
“Sovereign District” has been a nickname for the “Southern District” since at least March 12, 1986, when the nickname was used in the New York (NY) Times,
Wikipedia: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is the chief federal law enforcement officer in eight New York counties: New York (Manhattan), Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan. Preet Bharara, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2009 is the U.S. Attorney for the District. Bharara took over the post from Lev L. Dassin, who was acting as the interim U.S. Attorney after Michael J. Garcia, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, stepped down in December 2008 to join the partnership of New York law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has jurisdiction over all cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney. The New York Times has called the office “one of New York City’s most powerful clubs.”
The Office is organized into divisions handling civil, criminal, and civil rights matters. The Southern District of New York also has two offices: one in Manhattan, and one in White Plains. The office employs approximately 220 Assistant U.S. Attorneys.
Wikipedia: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (in case citations, S.D.N.Y.) is a federal district court. Appeals from the Southern District of New York are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit).
Its jurisdiction comprises the following counties: New York (Manhattan), Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York represents the United States in civil and criminal litigation in the court. The current U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is Preet Bharara, a graduate of Columbia University School of Law. Courthouses are located in Manhattan, White Plains, and the Federal Building and Post Office in Brooklyn.
The court shares geographic jurisdiction over New York City with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, which manages Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, and Richmond (Staten Island) counties, along with Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island.
The Southern District is one of the most influential and active federal district courts in the United States, largely because of its jurisdiction over New York’s major financial centers. According to Louis Freeh, the U.S. Attorneys for the S.D.N.Y. have traditionally exhibited such an aggressive prosecution style that there is a joke around the U.S. Department of Justice that S.D.N.Y. stands for the “Sovereign District of New York.”
12 March 1986, New York (NY) Times, “Suddenly, prosecutors find flood of tips on corruption” by Maureen Dowd, pg. A1:
In the best of times, according to other city and Federal prosecutors in New York, the United States Attorney’s office for the Southern District is, as one put it, ‘’not the easiest office in the world to deal with.’’ Its mocking nickname - ‘’the Sovereign district’’ - has been particularly apt under Mr. Giuliani’s swashbuckling stewardship, they say.
13 March 1996, Washington (DC) Times, “Watch, as Justice doesn’t work”:
The Southern District of New York, for example, covering Manhattan, is often referred to at Main Justice as the “Sovereign District of New York.”
The Men and Women Who Enforce the Nation’s Criminal Laws and Guard Its Liberties
By James Mcgee
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is responsible for prosecutions for federal crimes in what is known as the Southern District of New York. Such was its reputation that federal prosecutors in Washington and across the nation refer to the Manhattan office as the “sovereign district” office.
New York (NY) Times
A Worthy New York Prosecutor
Published: December 1, 2001
The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan has long been a magnet for some of the nation’s top legal talent, in part because it handles complex cases arising from New York’s status as the nation’s financial capital. Since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the office has also built an unparalleled expertise in terrorism cases.
Ms. White’s finest moment came when she obtained four convictions earlier this year in the 1998 bombing by Al Qaeda terrorists of two American embassies in Africa. Because of her reputation for integrity and independence—hers is jokingly referred to in Washington as the ‘’sovereign district’’—the Bush administration has also allowed Ms. White to pursue inquiries into Senator Robert Torricelli’s relationship with a fund-raiser, as well as former President Clinton’s 11th-hour pardons.
The Bureau and the Mole:
Yhe unmasking of Robert Philip Hanssen, the most dangerous double agent in FBI history
By David A Vise
New York, NY: Grove Press
The prodigious legal talent in the Southern District has enabled the government to win complex, high-profile cases with regularity, and those successes have in turn kept Justice Department brass from cracking down on the staunchly independent office, joking referred to as the “Sovereign District.”
Bringing down the Mafia, investigating Bill Clinton, and fighting the War on Terror
By Louis J Freeh with Howard B Means
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press
(At DOJ, it’s jokingly known as the US Attorney’s Office for the Sovereign District of New York.)
New York (NY) Times
For Federal Prosecutors, Politics Is Ever-Present
By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: March 18, 2007
Mary Jo White, who served as United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, in the Clinton administration and the current one, said there was a great value in autonomy. United States attorneys, she said, must be trusted to understand local problems and to work with their state and local counterparts without interference from Washington.
“The Southern District is the sovereign district of New York,” Ms. White said. “You know how I come out on that.”
Google Groups: alt.politics
From: “Joe S.”
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 18:42:50 -0400
Local: Sun, Apr 15 2007 4:42 pm
Subject: Nailing Gone-zales, Rove, and the rest of the White House criminals: Here’s how a real attorney works
The Southern District, which is based in Manhattan and is often called the “sovereign district of New York,” has long had a reputation as one of the most independent of the 93 U.S. Attorney districts.
The Remaking of American Justice
By Eric Lichtblau
he had first made a name for himself prosecuting gun crimes in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in RIchmond, Virginia, in the late 1990s, and he was elevated in 2001 to one of the most important prosecutors’ jobs in the country: head of New York’s Southern District, or the “Sovereign District,” as it was nicknamed in deference to its famed autonomy and arrogance.
Google Groups: alt.autos.toyota
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 14:33:46 -0500
Local: Mon, Jan 12 2009 1:33 pm
Subject: Re: OT - Madoff judge
In that book I recommended, “My FBI”, Freeh says the NY judicial district is often referred to in law circles as the “sovereign district” instead of “southern district”.
Corporate Crime Reporter
Henning on the White Collar Watch at the New York Times
24 Corporate Crime Reporter 6, February 7, 2010
“At one time, everything ran through New York. It was nicknamed the Sovereign District of New York. It was always a little bit problematic. Or it depended on personalities.”
Law Blog - Wall Street Journal
February 12, 2010, 4:47 PM ET
SDNY Prosecutors, Alumni Sitting Preet-ty
By Amir Efrati
It’s a good time to be a prosecutor at the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, and it’s an even better time to be an alumnus of the “Sovereign District,” as the office is nicknamed.
24 March 2019, New York (NY) Times, “With Mueller’s Report In, Interest Turns to New York” by Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman, pg. A1:
“The important thing to remember is that almost everything Donald Trump did was in the Southern District of New York,” said John S. Martin Jr., a retired federal judge who was the United States attorney in the Southern District during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
The Southern District’s reputation for nonpartisanship—and history of autonomy from the Justice Department in Washington, giving it the nickname “Sovereign District”—may make it less vulnerable to attacks from the president and his allies. The president’s lead lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, led the office from 1983 to 1989 and later became New York’s mayor.