Nominee to Succeed Holder Is Seen as Less Activist

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from The New York Times,

Loretta Lynch Said to See Her Role as That of Traditional Prosecutor.

While interviewing aspiring prosecutors for jobs in the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, Loretta E. Lynch, an African-American Democrat who grew up in the segregated South, often poses a favorite question.

You are investigating a violent crime in a minority neighborhood. The crucial witness, a kindhearted grandmother, will not testify. The case hangs in the balance. What do you do?

Many applicants think they know the answer she wants. They offer thoughts on the challenges of policing troubled neighborhoods and the need for sensitivity to the concerns of witnesses. But in a soft voice bearing hints of North Carolina, Ms. Lynch tells them they are wrong.

“Nana’s going to jail,” she says.

Ms. Lynch, who is expected to face Senate confirmation hearings in the coming weeks to become the next attorney general, is easy to misread. President Obama predicted that she would carry on the legacy of Eric H. Holder Jr., an African-American who proudly declared himself an activist and became the administration’s most outspoken voice on race.

But while Ms. Lynch shares Mr. Holder’s views on issues such as the strained relations between the police and minorities, her friends and colleagues describe someone cautious and comfortable staying in the background who sees her role as that of a traditional prosecutor and not a civil rights advocate.

“She is not going to follow in the footsteps of Eric Holder. She’s going to be her own attorney general,” said Janice K. Fedarcyk, the former top F.B.I. official in New York, who worked closely with Ms. Lynch.

Ms. Lynch, now in her second stint as the United States attorney for an area that comprises Long Island and much of New York City, is certainly no stranger to activism. She was born in 1959 in Greensboro, N.C., a year before the city became one of the battlegrounds of the civil rights movement as protesters tried to integrate a Woolworth’s lunch counter there.

Her father, Lorenzo, a Baptist minister, supported the sit-ins and opened his church to protesters. Her mother, Lorine, a school librarian, refused to use public restrooms that were set aside for blacks and earned money for college by working in a laundry, a summer camp and a cotton field.

“When I turned up my 12-year-old nose, as only an adolescent can do, and said ‘Eew! Why would you ever want to pick cotton?’ she looked at me and said, ‘So that you would never have to,’” Ms. Lynch recalled in a speech in 2001.

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For Attorney General Nominee, a Career That Shied Away From Activism